PA DEP Wants to Boost Shale Fees 250% to Help Fund Non-Shale Work

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf’s Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP), the agency charged with overseeing oil and gas drilling in the state, “blindsided” the shale industry last week with a proposal to hike the fee required when submitting an application to drill a new shale well (see PA DEP Plans to Raise Marcellus Well Permit Fee by 250%). The current fee is $5,000. The proposed new fee is $12,500–or 2.5 times (250%) higher. The DEP Oil and Gas Technical Advisory Board (TAB) met yesterday to discuss the permit fee increase. It was DEP Deputy Sec. Scott Perry’s job to be the point guy, the spear catcher to stick up for this insane hike in fees. We understand…The DEP has fewer people working there than it once did and needs to hire more. (Although the DEP somehow found half a million bucks lying around to hire 92 interns to help out. See PA DEP’s Short-Term Solution to Get More Help – Hire 92 Interns). PA Gov. Tom Wolf wants to slap a new severance tax on shale drillers to give their money away to Philadelphia teacher’s unions. The DEP (an executive agency, part of the Wolf administration) is taking a page from Wolf’s playbook. The DEP wants to slap this insanely high fee on shale drillers to (in part) cover the expenses associated with non-shale activities. According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: “Mr. Perry said they [shale permit fees] fund the broad scope of the [DEP] office’s operations, including its oversight of traditional [i.e. conventional] oil and gas wells, gas storage wells, abandoned wells and earthmoving activities.” How is it, in any sense, fair to hike the fees of shale drillers so DEP agents can better keep an eye on non-shale wells? Kind of like robbing Peter to pay Paul…

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