PA Gov. Corbett Says Municipal Fees (Not Taxes) for Marcellus Drilling May be OK

Tom CorbettGov. Tom Corbett has been a steadfast opponent of extra taxes on the Marcellus Shale drilling industry in PA. Such opposition was part of his platform when running, and now in office, he has remained opposed, even under withering criticism. In Corbett’s opinion, taxing the industry and dumping that money into the general fund to be used for whatever purpose politicians want to use it is a bad idea (politicians always find uses for other people’s money).

But on Wednesday, Corbett opened the window to the possibility that local municipalities could assess fees to cover expenses associated with Marcellus development in their communities.

Gov. Tom Corbett said on Wednesday that he’s not opposed to proposals that would allow communities or counties to impose fees on the booming natural gas industry, despite his continuing opposition to a new tax.

But the Republican governor called discussion of the topic speculative, because there’s no such proposal making progress in the Legislature, and he wants to see what his just-appointed Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission comes up with first.

Corbett said he would listen to such proposals and acknowledged that the state needs to finance road repairs and other work necessary to counter the effect of the rush to drill into the lucrative Marcellus shale formation.

"First off, I would have to see what they would propose and where the money would go," Corbett said in response to questions from reporters during a public appearance. "Money just to the (state government’s) general fund? No. Money to the locals? Money to the county? I’d sit down and listen to them."

Corbett took pains to draw a bright line between a local impact fee and a tax.*

Corbett’s comments immediately drew praise from both Republicans and Democrats.

*Pittsburgh Tribune-Review/AP (Mar 24, 2011) – Corbett opens up to Marcellus fees