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Pa. House passes Marcellus bill

The state House this afternoon passed a bill rewriting the state’s regulations for Marcellus Shale natural gas drilling and imposing an impact fee.

The vote on the legislation, House Bill 1950, was 101-90. The state Senate passed it Tuesday night by a vote of 31-19. The bill now goes to Gov. Tom Corbett’s desk for his signature.

The bill imposes an impact fee based on the average yearly price of natural gas. The bill’s backers said the fee works out to roughly a 3 percent effective rate; opponents said it was closer to 1 percent. Counties would be responsible for collecting the money.

The bill also limits municipalities’ ability to regulate the drilling industry, which has long argued it needs uniform statewide rules rather than a patchwork of local ordinances.

A statement on the bill’s passage from the Marcellus Shale Coalition was not immediately available, but a spokesman said the industry group is working on one.

Environmental groups denounced the bill.

H.B. 1950 constitutes “a major giveaway of the people’s legal rights, natural resources and money to the Marcellus Shale drillers,” said Harrisburg-based PennFuture.

Tim Stuhldreher

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