MSC Calls PA 250% Hike in Shale Permit Fees “Excessive”

Industry trade associations are not impressed with a proposed 250% hike in shale permit fees in Pennsylvania and they’re saying so. PA 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 in February 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. Yes, the DEP has fewer people working there than it once did, and needs to hire more help. However, the DEP wants to slap this insanely high fee on shale drillers to (in part) cover the expenses associated with non-shale activities! The shale permit fees will, “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? The DEP is trying to steamroller the increase through. DEP’s own Environmental Quality Board has already approved the increase and published an official notice in the Pennsylvania Bulletin (see PA Seeks Comments on Boosting Shale Permit Fees 250%). Publication in the Bulletin triggered a 30-day public comment period which just ended. Among those commenting on the plan were the Marcellus Shale Coalition (MSC) and the Pennsylvania Independent Oil & Gas Association (PIOGA). Neither had good things to say about the dramatic increase. MSC’s David Spigelmyer called it “excessive and not proportional to the costs incurred by the oil and gas program to oversee the unconventional natural gas industry.” Making the same point we’ve made: It’s not fair for shale drillers to fund the whole darned program that includes conventional and other aspects of the oil and gas program not related to shale…

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