Senator Hughes Says Republican Marcellus Shale Plan Gives Industry a Pass

“Plan is a Missed Opportunity That May Never Come Again”

PHILADELPHIA – State Sen. Vincent J. Hughes (D-Philadelphia/Montgomery) strongly opposed the Republican Marcellus Shale plan that was approved by the Senate yesterday.

Hughes stated that the shale tax plan will make Pennsylvania’s rate the 5th lowest effective rate in the country.

“Pennsylvania has one of the largest reserves of natural gas in the country and as a result of the Senate’s actions today, it will have one of the lowest extraction tax rates in the nation,” Hughes said.  “This is a missed opportunity that we may never happen again.”

“This Republican plan for Marcellus Shale falls woefully short,” Hughes said.  “It is short on generating revenues, providing environmental protections and protecting local communities.”

“It gives a pass to the most lucrative industry in the world and fails to live up to our expectations of what a reasonable plan should look like.”

During floor debate, Hughes offered an amendment that would have generated more than $560 million in additional revenues from shale drillers.  The amendment was turned aside by a 24-25 vote.

“While we should do what we can to help this promising industry flourish, the economic boost that comes from shale should not mean that we relinquish our responsibility to our citizens, environment, local communities and future generations,” Hughes said.

“If we fail to do our jobs now and protect the environment, we run the risk of future generations experiencing the same type of mess that we inherited from the coal industry.”

Democrats offered amendments to provide more funding for environmental protection and remove provisions that preempt local zoning.  These were rejected by Senate Republicans.

“We must ensure that this economic opportunity – this Pennsylvania resource – is managed safely and responsibly.  We must generate real dollars and generate real protections for our citizens and our environment.”

Yesterday, Senate Democrats offered an amendment it the Senate Appropriations Committee that would have:

  •  Provided a higher impact fee of $75,000 per well in the first year, raising to $150 million in 2011, $260 million in 2012, $380 million in 2013 and $491 million in 2014;
  • Improved setback requirements to measure distances from the edge of the well pad, rather than from the well head;
  • Totally preserved local zoning power as it relates to natural gas drilling so that no state agency could override the power to provide for appropriate placement of wells.

This amendment was rejected by Senate Republicans.

“The Marcellus Shale plan should do three things: protect Pennsylvania’s environment and its people; generate adequate revenue; and give local government the ability to protect their communities,” Hughes said. “Anything less than that is unacceptable.”

The legislation now goes to the House for its consideration.

Hughes serves as Democratic Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

For more information, visit www.senatorhughes.com or Facebook and Twitter (SenatorHughes).