Corbett Opens Door to Shale Drilling Fees
By Josh Goodman, Staff Writer
SHALE SHIFT: While he remains steadfastly opposed to imposing a severance tax on natural gas drillers, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett says he'd consider allowing local governments to charge fees to the companies to offset infrastructure costs. "The communities have to be taken care of, I understand that," Corbett says, according to the Morning Call . Corbett's announcement comes as Joe Scarnati, President Pro Tempore of the state Senate, is considering legislation to allow local governments to pursue the fees. Corbett was elected with strong support from drilling companies that want to tap the abundant natural gas reserves in the Marcellus Shale rock formation without paying severance taxes.
CARBON SETBACK: California 's landmark law to curtail greenhouse gas emissions has suffered a blow in court, but the full impact remains to be seen, the Los Angeles Times reports . A state judge ruled in March that the state pursued a cap-and-trade system for large industrial carbon emitters without adequately considering alternatives such as a carbon tax. That means the state will need to conduct a new environmental review before the cap-and-trade system goes into effect — something that was supposed to happen in January 2012. What remains undecided is whether the judge's injunction will also block implementation of other measures that come from the law, known as AB 32, that's intended to reduce California's greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. Those include regulations of tailpipe emissions from cars and trucks.
TAX CUT DOUBTED: Alaska Governor Sean Parnell's bid to cut taxes on oil production enjoys strong support in the state House, but is struggling in the Alaska Senate, the Anchorage Daily News reports . Parnell has made the oil-tax cut his top priority this year, arguing that its necessary to reverse production declines on Alaska's North Slope. However, senators of both parties say they aren't persuaded that lower taxes will boost production. "The question has always been, show us," Senate President Gary Stevens says. "What is the proof, what do we get if we give away $2 billion a year."
RECYCLING REVERSAL: Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has a fight on his hands as he tries to end a state mandate that local governments run recycling programs and cut state support for those programs, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports . Four of Walker's fellow Republican legislators have come out against the change, which Walker introduced as part of his proposed budget. A coalition of local governments and outside groups are fighting against the proposal, too. Walker's plan is to redirect the $32 million a year that the state spends on recycling to an economic development fund.
STARTING OVER: The Montana legislature is considering a wholesale rewriting of the Montana Environmental Policy Act, the state's key environmental law, the Great Falls Tribune reports . The changes would adjust standards for environmental reviews and legal challenges in ways that supporters hope would boost economic development. The proposal has drawn predictable battle lines, with many business interests in favor and environmentalists opposed.