Simmons Supports Marcellus Shale Impact Legislation
HARRISBURG – State Rep. Justin Simmons (R-Lehigh/Northampton) today voted in favor of the conference committee report on House Bill 1950, which establishes impact fees and environmental safeguards for the Marcellus Shale natural gas drilling industry in Pennsylvania. House Bill 1950 was approved by the House of Representatives by a vote of 101 to 90.

“For the past five years we’ve heard about the need for some sort of impact fee, but one was never passed,” said Simmons. “However, this Legislature was able to do so and it was accomplished through hard work and compromise.”

The bill gives counties the option of imposing a fee on Marcellus Shale gas wells in their communities to help mitigate the local impacts of drilling. The fee that is established fluctuates depending on the price of natural gas and the rate of inflation. The estimated revenues from the fee are projected to reach $94 million in 2011 and $155 million in 2012 respectively, and revenues could be as high as $295 million in 2015.

The legislation also directs a portion of the revenue to a variety of statewide infrastructure and environmental initiatives including:
  • Commonwealth Financing Authority.
  • Environmental Stewardship Fund (Growing Greener).
  • Highway Bridge Improvement Restricted Account.
  • Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority (PENNVEST).
  • Hazardous Sites Cleanup Fund (HSCF).

“I believe this is a very fair piece of legislation,” said Simmons. “It allows counties to impose an impact fee, if they so choose, while giving our local municipalities the power to make zoning decisions.”

In addition, House Bill 1950 brings regulations up-to-date by addressing new technology in oil and gas development and provides greater protection and accountability.

“I think it is important to note that this legislation has the support of the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Association of Township Supervisors, the Pennsylvania Association of Boroughs, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and Renew Growing Greener,” said Simmons. “The endorsements of these local government and environmental groups helped convince me to support the bill.”

House Bill 1950 now goes to Gov. Tom Corbett for his signature.

State Representative Justin Simmons
131st District, Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Contact: Andy Briggs