Proposed Bill Allows PA Universities to Keep Marcellus Drilling Revenues for Building Projects

It’s not a done deal yet, but Pennsylvania may soon allow its state-owned universities to have Marcellus Shale drilling on their property—and keep the money from it.

There’s no gas drilling yet on the campuses of Pennsylvania’s 14 state-owned universities, but a new bill would earmark rents and royalties from any future wells to help pay for a backlog of building repair projects.

The measure by Rep. Matt Baker, R-Wellsboro, would divide gas and oil rents and royalties on property owned by the State System of Higher Education in two ways: 60 percent would go to the university hosting the wells for building and energy conservation projects. The other 40 percent would be allocated to universities that don’t host gas wells to use for the same purposes.*

Half of the 14 state-owned universities are located in the Marcellus Shale formation. Penn State is not a state-owned university and therefore not part of this plan.

Mansfield, Slippery Rock and Lock Haven are among universities in the Marcellus formation. Pennsylvania State University and its branch campuses would not be among the universities discussed in the bill. They receive substantial state aid but are not owned by the state and would not be subject to the Oil and Gas Fund Act.*

*Elmira Star-Gazette (Apr 4, 2011) – Pa. bill targets college campus gas lease royalties