After years of debate, state lawmakers have approved a local impact fee for the extraction of natural gas from the Marcellus Shale.

 

The bill, which passed by a 101-90 vote in the state House, will head to Gov. Tom Corbett's desk for his signature after the Senate approved it on Tuesday. The "compromise" legislation allows counties to assess local impact fees to pay for infrastructure and public-safety costs and mandates the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission to collect and distribute the fee.

 

The bill, which avoids taxing the growing industry as Democrats wanted, moved quickly through the General Assembly this week. Corbett emphasized the thousands of jobs that will be created and that drilling will move the state toward energy independence.

 

"This legislation reaffirms our strong commitment to safe and responsible natural gas development here in Pennsylvania," said Corbett, who is expected to sign the bill.

 

Leading environmental groups called it a sweetheart deal for big oil and gas.

"It’s clear why the governor and the Republican leadership needed to ram this bill through," said Jan Jarrett, president and CEO of Citizens for Pennsylvania's Future. "It violates the rights of the citizens, and the wishes of more than three-quarters of the voters."