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Senate Moves Marcellus Bill Out of Committee

This week, the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee voted out an amended version of House Bill 1950, the House Marcellus Shale impact fee bill. The amendment, sponsored by Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati (R-Jefferson) replaces the language that recently passed the House with the language approved by the Senate in Senate Bill 1100.

With a limited number of session days on the calendar for both the House and Senate before their Holiday break, unless a deal is struck this week, it is virtually impossible that an approved bill will be in the hands of the Governor before the legislature adjourns for 2011.

During the committee meeting, Scarnati told the committee members that the Senate is “working diligently to move this process along.” He went on to say, “Although I very much recognize there are things in this amendment and the ultimate bill that do not necessarily meet everybody’s total support, it is a process here today to move the bill out of committee and be prepared next week to continue the process.”

Some committee members stated that they intended to vote for the bill, however, they have ongoing concerns regarding distribution of funds and local zoning issues. While these legislators have been working with leadership to try to find a compromise, Senator Mary Jo White (R-Mercer) summed up the issue by stating that Marcellus Shale is an issue that “we will be revisiting for years to come.”

Governor Corbett had previously stated that his vision for the natural gas industry is more closely aligned with the House bill. So far, the Governor’s office has not indicated whether or not he would approve the Senate’s version of the bill if it makes it to his desk.