PA House lawmakers have joined the Senate in approving their own version of legislation related to a natural gas tax and regulations. Reconciling the differences and developing a compromise bill to provide to Governor Corbett before the year ends comes next.
See an analysis of this outcome by PA Environment Digest's David Hess, who served as Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection from 2001 to 2003, as staff in the Pennsylvania Senate and in the former Department of Environmental Resources for over 30 years at http://paenvironmentdaily.blogspot.com/
A petition is being circulated by those who oppose the bill at signon.org/sign/petition-opposing-pa?source=s.em.cr&r_by=1548617&mailing_id=1157
PENNSYLVANIA — The state Senate on Tuesday, November 15, approved legislation to establish a statewide Marcellus Shale impact fee, and to hand over decisions related to local zoning ordinances and gas drilling to the state attorney general.
The Senate bill would levy a $50,000 per well fee in the first year that would decline to $10,000 during the 11th through 20th years. Approximately 55 percent of the revenue would go to local governments, with 45 percent allocated for statewide initiatives. Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati, R-Jefferson County, said the bill imposes an effective tax rate of 3 percent.
The House may vote today on legislation that would allow counties an optional fee.
PENNSYLVANIA — As a growing number of New York towns scramble to establish zoning protections against the industrialization that characterizes natural gas extraction in the Marcellus Shale, Pennsylvania residents may be seeing that opportunity traded away in exchange for a drilling impact fee as the PA legislature moves quickly on House Bill 1950. Read more
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Forest Service announced today that it will form an advisory committee that will provide advice and recommendations to the Secretary of Agriculture on the implementation of the new Planning Rule set for finalization this winter.
The Federal Advisory Committee – which could be formed early next year – will advise the Secretary on how the new rule is implemented. The U.S. Forest Service manages 155 national forests and 20 grasslands that will be affected by the new rule, which, if finalized later this year, will replace a 1982 version. Read more
HARRISBURG -- Although the Department of Environmental Protection’s regional offices will be closed Nov. 11 for Veterans Day, all state Disaster Recovery Centers (DRC) will offer normal operating hours, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., to serve residents in areas affected by flooding.
Because of the shelf life on well water samples, residents who need to drop off test kits for analysis at DEP regional offices and DRCs should wait until the week of Nov. 14 to do so. Test kits can be picked up at the regional offices and DRCs during posted operating hours. Read more
PennEnvironment, a statewide, citizen-based environmental advocacy organization has scheduled training to equip Pennsylvanians with the skills and information to “protect Pennsylvania's environment and communities from gas drilling.” Read more
Organizations from throughout the Delaware River Watershed cried “foul” today because the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) issued what it termed as “modified” natural gas development regulations on November 8, 2011 without any opportunity for public comment, input, or testimony concerning the changes to the draft regulations (www.drbc.net). DRBC released a draft of its proposed rules in December 2010 with a public comment period that closed April 15, 2011. A record number of comments were received by the agency on the draft - 69,800 comments - breaking all records for public involvement. Read more
Sullivan County District Attorney Jim Farrell is warning seniors and all residents of Sullivan County about a phone scam that has been making its way around the county recently. The homeowner receives a call from someone representing themselves as a representative of Publisher’s Clearing House and advises them that they have won a substantial prize. The caller directs the “winner” to a local Wal-Mart where they can purchase a green dot money package or money order, telling victims they must first wire and pay taxes or other fees out of the advance check, before they can claim the rest of the prize. Read more
YOUNGSVILLE, NY — A study co-sponsored by Catskill Mountainkeeper Research concludes that farming in the Catskills is poised for a resurgence that could help reverse decades of regional decline, as the area becomes a more significant supplier of fresh, local food to the New York City metro area. Read more
The Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) on November 8, published newly adjusted gas drilling regulations on its website, www.state.nj.us/drbc/. The new rules call for the development of a Natural Gas Development Plan (“NGDP”) “For Protection of High Value Water Resource Landscapes and Special Protection Waters.” Read more
The Pike County Economic Development Authority (EDA) and the Pike County Chamber of Commerce have formed the Pike County Economic Alliance, a collaborative working enterprise structure between the two. The project was spearheaded by the Alliance Taskforce Committee, whose members were appointed by each organization. The committee conducted an investigation of economic support organizations in comparable counties throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Drawing upon examples of other successful working alliances in these counties, the committee developed a plan that will focus on Pike County’s economic stimulus. Read more
Representatives from several local municipalities who serve on the Pike County Marcellus Shale Taskforce made their reports to the county commissioners on November 2 Read more
The Sullivan County Legislature voted on November 3 to sell the Smallwood Golf Course property and adjacent parcels to the Bethel Local Development Corporation (BLDC). The price tag on the deal is $54,000, which will cover back taxes and fines owed on the property. Read more
[Editor’s note: The Kennedys provided the following account of their recent involvement in a peaceful protest of the Keystone XL Pipeline. They will participate in a discussion on November 13, from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Tusten Branch of the Western Sullivan Public Library on Bridge Street in Narrowsburg, NY. Read more
“I’m running out of places to cut,” said Eldred Central School (ECS) District Superintendent Robert Dufour during a presentation about the 2012-13 district budget.
Dufour and school business administrator William Thornton recently went over all BOCES expenses and the entire contingency budget to look for line items they felt could be cut that wouldn’t impact instruction or cause any reductions in staff. “The key thing to remember is that 75% to 80% of our expenses are salaries and benefits,” Dufour said. “The other is what I’m playing with here, and it’s really not a lot to play with.” Read more
Ramsey Adams sees the production of beer, especially high-end craft beer, as a growing industry. There are no breweries in the seven counties that make up the Catskill Mountains, so Adams thinks it might be a good idea to start one in Sullivan County. Read more
NARROWSBURG, NY — An advertisement that appeared on page 12 of our print paper reads “Paid for by Tusten Concerned Citizens.” It was not in fact paid for by that group.
It is necessary to have a “paid for by” line on political advertising, and the individual who placed the ad revised the copy for this line in the final revision. We did not catch or question the change in the disclosure line. Read more
The first speaker at the public comment portion of the Sullivan County monthly meeting on October 20 stepped up to the microphone to address what he believed was a proposed improper arrangement regarding the Apollo Plaza. It had been reported in local media outlets that the Sullivan County YMCA was in line for a “sweetheart deal” to get space in a new building at little or no cost in the new mall being planned at the long abandoned Apollo location. Read more
Delaware announces tax decrease
HORTONVILLE, NY — The Delaware Township Board of Supervisors has announced a tax decrease for the 2012 budget. At the board’s October 26 meeting, the authorization to advertise the 2012 budget was given. The adoption hearing will be on Wednesday, December 14 at 7:15 p.m. Read more
Joe Martens, the commissioner of the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), said on October 25 that it is not clear if gas-drilling permits will be issued in 2012, because the High-Volume Hydraulic Fracturing Advisory Panel was going to miss a November 1 deadline to file a related report to Governor Andrew Cuomo. Read more