Drilling impact fee bill heads to Pa. Senate floor

A Senate panel amended and sent to the floor a bill to impose an impact fee on natural-gas drilling in Pennsylvania, as members of both parties cited a desire to square off on the politically explosive topic.

The Environmental Resources and Energy Committee voted 11-0 Tuesday to adopt an amendment by committee Chairwoman Sen. Mary Jo White that would revamp the schedule of fees that would be imposed on the commercial drilling proliferating along the lucrative Marcellus Shale formation in northern and western Pennsylvania.

Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati, the sponsor of the original bill, called White's amendment "a good start." He said debate on the legislation could begin as early as next week, while state budget talks between Republican legislative leaders and GOP Gov. Tom Corbett are expected to intensify in the face of a June 30 deadline.

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