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Friday, May 8, 2009

Clean & Green Rollbacks Subject Of House Hearing

Hearing addresses Marcellus Shale land and tax issues

By MIKE REUTHER - mreuther@sungazette.com
Sun Gazette

Two pieces of legislation targeted at limiting the amount of roll-back taxes paid by landowners for activities related to energy production received mostly positive responses from various officials testifying Thursday before the state House Agricultural and Rural Affairs Committee.

The hearing, co-hosted by state Rep. Rick Mirabito, D-Williamsport, and state Rep. Mike Hanna Sr., D-Lock Haven, included comments from lawmakers, agricultural and social service officials, and at least one business owner.

"It raised a lot of issues for us to consider," Mirabito said following the two-hours of testimony at Pennsylvania College of Technology's Klump Academic Center.

Mirabito said with the drilling for natural gas from the Marcellus Shale in the area, it was important to hear perspectives from

many different people, which at least one of the bills addresses.

House Bill 1394 clarifies the status of land leased for exploration of oil and gas, coal bed extraction and commercial wind energy production. Under the bill roll-back taxes would be imposed on land subject to the actual activity, not the entire tract of land. It also would prevent roll-back taxes from being imposed retroactively.

House Bill 984 amends the state Farmland and Forest Land Assessment Act, or Clean and Green, to limit the imposition of roll-back taxes when a property owner leases land enrolled in the program for a wind power generator system.

State Agricultural Secretary Dennis M. Wolff said it's his belief that both bills reflect the spirit of the law and also work toward protecting farmers. More...

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