Thursday, September 29, 2011

Social Media Exclusive: The Chamber adopts a Marcellus Shale policy

As you may be aware, The Chamber's Public Policy Committee will periodically adopt public policy positions on important issues.  At Monday's Board of Governor's meeting, the Board formally adopted two public policy positions.  One of them was on Marcellus Shale in Pennsylvania, and the entire policy is below, but here's the summary:

  • The Chamber supports an impact fee for the extraction of Marcellus Shale.  However, the funding generated from that fee should be used only matters directly or indirectly related to the gas extracted.
    • Any fee should be imposed, managed and collected on a state-wide level.
    • Any fee should not be added to the state's General Fund.
  • The Chamber opposes practice of pooling in the extraction of the gas except in situations where property owners have legally assigned their gas rights.
For the entire policy, as well as the path that it took to become a formal policy position, read on:
Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce
Marcellus Shale policy

The Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce recognizes the economic benefits and opportunity for energy independence that shale gas formations, including Marcellus and others, can bring to Pennsylvania's businesses, commerce and communities, as well as the need to protect our environment, natural resources and infrastructure from adverse consequences from developing and extracting shale gas. 

We urge Pennsylvania lawmakers to enact legislation that will regulate the industries involved in extracting natural gas from Shale formations in a manner fair to all stakeholders; providing for transparency in governance and strong environmental stewardship.  We also urge Pennsylvania’s regulating bodies to regulate these industries in a manner consistent with the intent of the legislation, and that the Legislature establish and maintain proper protocols for regulator oversight.

The Chamber is against the practice of pooling in the extraction of the gas except in situations where property owners have legally assigned their gas rights.  The Chamber believes that the practice of forced pooling, which would give the drilling industry the right to drill under and take gas from a property owner who has not signed a lease to sell gas, amounts to a use of eminent domain for private business interests and is a violation of property ownership rights.

The Chamber believes that an impact fee on natural gas extracted from shale gas formations should be established, subject to the following conditions:

This fee should be used solely to address direct and indirect impacts, both present and future, associated with natural gas extraction.  This includes but is not limited to remediation of environmental contamination, infrastructure repair and maintenance, public safety issues, and increased regulatory agency costs associated with properly overseeing the associated industries and a reasonable fund to address non recoverable and unexpected costs that is not otherwise covered by responsible parties.

This fee should be imposed, collected and managed at the State level so that all impacts, including those that may occur ‘downstream’ from well locations, may be addressed in an equitable and consistent manner.

Funds raised through this assessment should not be added to the General Fund nor be available for any other purpose, but instead should be set aside in a trust fund and used solely for purposes outlined above.

The Chamber encourages its current and future members to explore the business opportunities Marcellus Shale presents to PA.

8/9/11 – E&E Committee passed unanimously (motion D.Scheel, 2nd J.McGeehin)
8/17/11- Public Policy Committee amended to add “public safety issues” and passed unanimously (motion K.Frazier, 2nd D.Dunn)
9/15/11- 2nd version passed by E/E Committee
9/21/11 - 2nd version passed by Public Policy Committee
9/26/11---passed by Executive Committee and Board of Governors

1 comment:

Jon Geeting said...

I think the idea that the fee should only pay for public expenditures related to gas drilling is seriously misguided. The gas companies are saying publicly that they won't leave the state even if PA's tax is 1% higher than the other big natural gas producing states. Harrisburg should take them up on that and use the money to reduce other more regressive taxes like the sales tax. It would be much better for most businesses to have high taxes on natural resource extraction and lower taxes on sales.