July 7, 2010

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Rendell signs budget, sets standards for Marcellus Shale Development

TOWANDA - During a visit to the most active county for Marcellus Shale drilling this year, Governor Edward Rendell outlined the state's commitment to enacting a severance tax on natural gas extraction, saying such a levy should give a fair share to communities where drilling is taking place.

The Governor made his remarks as he signed Senate Bill 1042, the state's fiscal code. The bill allows for transfers into the General Fund to balance the state's fiscal year 2010-11 budget. The bill also contains language that affirms the commonwealth's intent to enact a severance tax by Oct. 1.

"The rich natural gas deposits in the Marcellus Shale represent a tremendous opportunity in the form of new jobs and economic stimulus to mostly rural communities across the commonwealth," said Governor Rendell. "We have a responsibility to ensure that the economic benefits are balanced with the need to protect the local environment and the residents of communities where the work is being done.”

To date this year, 1,164 natural gas wells have been drilled in Pennsylvania. Of that total, 564 have been drilled to access gas deposits in the Marcellus Shale, with 143 of those wells being drilled in Bradford County-the most of any county in the state this year.

The Department of Environmental Protection has also issued nearly 2,900 drilling permits this year, of which 1,172 were for Marcellus development. By comparison, 1,984 Marcellus permits were issued in all of 2009.

"Today's announcement represents a positive step forward”, said Marcellus Shale Coalition (MSC) president and executive director Kathryn Klaber. “The MSC has said from the start that it was going to take more than hard work and favorable geology to leverage the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of the Marcellus into jobs, revenue and long-term energy affordability for all Pennsylvanians. To do this, and do it right, we need an updated and modernized regulatory and legislative framework, and a fair tax strategy that keeps our state ahead of the curve in attracting the investment needed to bring these resources to the surface. Today, Pennsylvania announced its intention to compete for these opportunities.”


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