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Pennsylvania Lawmaker Thinks Fees On Marcellus Shale Drillers Unavoidable

HARRISBURG, Pa. (CBS) - The top Republican in the Pennsylvania Senate has rolled out his long-awaited proposal to impose fees on natural gas drillers in the state's Marcellus Shale region.

scarnati joe portrait side
(Pa. Sen. Joe Scarnati, in file photo)

State Senate president pro tem Joe Scarnati says because it's a fee and not a tax, and does not provide for exemptions or deductions, it would actually raise more money than the natural gas extraction tax considered last year by the GOP.

On a conference call today with reporters, Scarnati (right) said he's tried to craft a bill that will fit the governor's no-tax parameters -- but also said this:

"I cannot see how we get a state budget done with the cuts that are coming, without bringing some dollars from this industry.  I can't see how we get the process done, and I don't know how we can be straight-faced (without imposing fees)."

Scarnati's proposal would designate revenue for counties and local municipalities impacted by drilling, for state conservation districts, and for roads and environmental clean-up.  Scarnati says he'd like to see counties and municipalities get 60 percent of the revenue pie.

Reported by KYW Harrisburg Bureau chief Tony Romeo

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