Pennsylvania State Senator Jim Ferlo (D-Allegheny), who introduced legislation to place a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing in September 2013, plans to introduce legislation to restrict provisions of Act 13 of 2012, which established impact fees for drilling and banned local governments from using zoning regulations to ban hydraulic fracturing.
The proposed legislation would replace Act 13’s impact fee with a severance tax on natural gas of $0.25 per thousand cubic feet of gas. This tax would be adjusted as the price of gas increases. The first $200 million of taxes collected would be divided between counties and municipalities (60%) and the state (40%); and thereafter, the monies collected would go into the state’s general fund.
Under the new provisions, prior to submitting a permit application to the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), the driller would be required to provide notice to landowners and municipal officials that are within 5,000 feet of the well site. Set-backs from the well pad would be increased, requiring 1,500 feet from buildings, 2,500 feet from drinking water sources, 1,000 feet from exceptional value water sources, and 500 feet from any body of water. These set-backs cannot be waived by the DEP.
The proposed legislation would place a moratorium on any additional leasing of state forest land for two years. As for trade secrets, the proposed law would allow doctors to have immediate access to any and all information (including trade secrets) needed to treat a patient, and doctors would be allowed to share this information with the patient and health agencies without signing a confidentiality agreement.
This last provision to allow doctors to obtain and share trade secrets is a direct result of a court dismissing a doctor’s lawsuit relating to Act 13’s “gag order.” See “Physician’s challenge to Pennsylvania’s “fracking gag order” dismissal.”
This post was written by Barclay Nicholson (firstname.lastname@example.org or 713.651.3662) from Norton Rose Fulbright's Energy Practice Group.