Gov. Corbett has proposed a novel solution to the higher education funding crisis: drilling for dollars.
Not a gas tax, mind you but gas rigs, right on campus.
Corbett told the Pennsylvania Association of Councils of Trustees today that schools could address revenue shortfalls by tapping into the riches of the Marcellus Shale beneath their campuses.
Corbett said six campuses in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education sit on the lucrative Marcellus shale natural gas formation, The Erie Times reported.
Today the Pennsylvania State Senate passed Senate Bill 367:
Short Title: An Act providing for indigenous mineral resource development; and imposing powers and duties on the Department of General Services and the State System of Higher Education.
Prime Sponsor: Senator D. WHITE
Last Action: Signed in Senate, Sept. 25, 2012
Text of Senate Bill 367 (excerpt)
Section 3. Development of resources on State-owned land.
(a) Authority.–The department has the following powers:
(1) To make and execute contracts or leases in the name of the Commonwealth for the mining or removal of valuable coal, oil, natural gas, coal bed methane and limestone which may be found in or beneath State-owned land and to convey Commonwealth rights to coal, oil, natural gas, coal bed methane and limestone.
(2) To grant a right-of-way through State-owned land to any individual or corporation that applies if the department determines that the grant will not so adversely affect the land as to interfere with its usual and orderly administration.
Between the years 2000 to present, Senator Donald C White has received $94,150 from the Natural Gas Industry.
HARRISBURG, PA–The natural gas industry and related trade groups have now given nearly $8 million to Pennsylvania state candidates and political committees since 2000, according to new research by Common Cause Pennsylvania and Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania. Top recipients of industry money given between 2000 and April 2012 were Governor Tom Corbett (R) with $1,813,205.59, Senate President Joseph Scarnati (R-25) with $359,145.72, Rep. Dave Reed (R-62) with $137,532.33, House Majority Leader Rep. Mike Turzai (R-28) with $98,600, and Sen. Don White (R-41) with $94,150.
Newly passed bill will allow mining and drilling near state-owned institutions | September 26, 2012|By Andrew Maykuth, Inquirer Staff Writer
Excerpt (emphasis added): Rep. Greg Vitali (D., Delaware) said state institutions were forced to support the bill because they are desperate for funds after their budgets were cut.
“My feeling is that college campuses are improper places to drill,” said Vitali. “A highly industrial activity is not conducive to a learning environment.”
The House approved the bill by 136-62. The Senate approved it in June by 46-3. Gov. Corbett, who endorsed the bill last year, is expected to sign it.
Half of the fees and royalties generated by leases of State System of Higher Education lands would be retained by the university where the resources are located. Thirty-five percent would be allocated to other state universities. The remaining 15 percent would be used for tuition assistance at all 14 schools.
For nonuniversity leases, 60 percent of the revenue would be allocated to the Oil and Gas Lease Fund, which supports conservation efforts. The Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority would receive 25 percent of the funds. The host agency, such as the Department of Transportation, would receive 15 percent.
“This distribution formula provides equitable funding and promotes our efforts to maintain and improve Pennsylvania’s environment and infrastructure improvement efforts,” said the bill’s principal sponsor, Sen. Don White, a Republican whose district includes Indiana University of Pennsylvania.