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Corbett: 'Still reading' shale report

Published by Laura Olson on .

corbettcloseupAfter his appearance at today's presser for "The Dark Knight Rises" in Pittsburgh, intrepid reporter Tim McNulty pulled aside Gov. Tom Corbett to ask him about that Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission report he'd been waiting so long for.

For all the inquiring minds eager to hear his thoughts (and who had to speed-report the document themselves in order to write about it), well, he's still paging through it.

"I'm still reading it," a reportedly upbeat governor said.

"I'm looking to see that which I agree with and there's maybe one or two things I don't agree with, and things I don't know if I agree with or not that I have to get some more information on. But I'm also looking at that which we can do as the executive branch and implement quickly, or is there something short-term medium-term or long term, but also that which we can give to the Legislature."

He declined to react on the two pieces that have drawn the most attention so far: a suggestion to "modernize" state laws in order to allow for pooling of gas rights, potentially against a landowner's wishes, and directions to enact an impact fee to allow local governments to recoup costs.

"I haven't taken a look at the forced pooling section yet, so it's really not fair to comment on that yet. I've indicated to many people I'm open to the issue of impact fees, depending on where the money goes, how it's determined. It can't be a tax -- it has to be a fee -- so we'll look at that."

That's little more than he's said previously on a drilling fee. He initially would say any fee should not go back to the state General Fund, which pays for the bulk of state programs.

As lawmakers pushed for a fee with the state budget, he revised that to a request for them not to consider any fee until the report was issued, and then a comment that he would veto a fee proposal if it prematurely reached his desk.

Now it's right at the top of the fall priority list for senators from both parties, and House Republicans even seem to be acquiesing that a fee may be needed. But Corbett noted that other policies are aggressively jockeying to gain attention too.

"We have Marcellus Shale, we have redistricting -- if you ask the Legislature that's going to be their number one -- you have school choice, you have transportation -- the transportation report is due next week -- you have [LCB] privatization," he said. "There are a number of priorities out there. There's no reason you can't work on them all."

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