Bill Providing For Drilling On Other State Lands Goes To Governor
Senate Bill 367 (D.White-R-Indiana) allowing the leasing of property owned by the state and the State System of Higher Education for mining or removal of valuable coal, oil, natural gas, coal bed methane, limestone and mineral resources received final legislative approval Tuesday and is headed to the Governor for enactment into law.
Rep. Matt Baker (R-Tioga) introduced similar legislation in the House.
“I appreciate my colleagues’ support of this bill. This legislation does not require the state or SSHE to lease or sell any property rights,” Sen. White said. “It simply provides a new opportunity to generate revenue, while helping students, supporting Pennsylvania’s environmental protection efforts and boosting our state economy through the creation of new jobs.”
Senate Bill 367 would give the Department of General Services the option to make and execute the contracts or leases. Currently, only a few state agencies such as the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Game Commission and Fish and Boat Commission are authorized by law to enter into leases for resource development. Those agencies and their leases are not affected by Senate Bill 367.
Proceeds from drilling on State System of Higher Education lands would remain with the state universities. Proceeds from drilling on other state lands (not including those owned by the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and the Fish and Boat and Game Commissions) would be allocated according to this formula: 60 percent to the Oil and Gas Lease Fund; 25 percent to the PA Infrastructure Investment Authority with language authorizing the funding of non-point source best management practices to implement the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Implementation Plan or TMDL watershed plans; and 15 percent to the drilling agency.
“This distribution formula provides equitable funding and promotes our efforts to maintain and improve Pennsylvania’s environment and infrastructure improvement efforts,” Sen. White said. “Perhaps the best component of the formula is the requirement that 15 percent be set aside for scholarships, which will allow students and their families to directly benefit from this as well.”
“Our universities are more financially strapped than ever with decreasing state funds and mounting educational costs,” said Rep. Baker. “This legislation will provide a way for the universities to benefit from the lands on which they are located. Several of the schools are positioned well for the extraction of coal or natural gas in particular, and the universities are in favor of the proposal.”
“Our local economy has benefitted greatly from the development of the natural gas industry and, in fact, Mansfield University is now offering a program to help train prospective employees for work in the industry. In fact, 6,000 people have already completed the program offered by the Marcellus Institute at Mansfield University.,” said Rep. Baker. “It only makes sense that the university should also be able to take advantage of the mineral rights associated with their property.”
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