DEP disputes claims on missing drilling fee data

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HARRISBURG -- State Department of Environmental Protection secretary Michael Krancer has sent a letter disputing claims in a recent journal article that Pennsylvania is missing out on drilling impact fees due to faulty data.

Researchers from University of Alberta in Edmonton and McGill University in Montreal contend in a December journal article that DEP officials failed to include thousands of older gas wells in its tally of wells liable for the new state drilling fee.

State environmental regulators responded at the time that such wells did not fit the definitions outlined in Act 13, the new law creating that fee.

In a letter dated today to Joel Gehman, a University of Alberta business professor, Mr. Krancer writes that the researcher "seriously misunderstood or misrepresented" key provisions of the law, leading them to an incorrect tally of liable wells.

Some wells included by Mr. Gehman involve a sandstone formation, rather than one of the shale formations defined by the statute and others produce too little gas to be liable, Mr. Krancer said. He added that ensuring data accuracy is a top priority for his agency.

"That you would respond to our criticisms about your report by stating in the press that my department 'remains out of compliance [with Act 13] to this day' shows that you have really failed to do your homework or that you are more interested or that you are more interested in publicity for yourself than the truth, or both," Mr. Krancer wrote.

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Harrisburg bureau chief Laura Olson: lolson@post-gazette.com or 717-787-4254.


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