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House Co-Sponsorship Memoranda

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House of Representatives
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session


Posted: June 1, 2017 01:42 PM
From: Representative Michael K. Hanna
To: All House members
Subject: Public Natural Resources Trust Fund
In the near future, I intend to introduce legislation that amends Title 58 (Oil and Gas) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes for the purpose of establishing a Public Natural Resources Trust Fund that would gradually build a natural resources legacy for future Pennsylvania generations.

My proposal would allow the commonwealth to responsibly carry out its duties under Article 1, Section 27, of the Pennsylvania Constitution which directs the commonwealth to conserve and maintain the environment for all people.

The Public Natural Resources Trust Fund would receive income from oil and gas developed on public land and direct it as follows: First, investments will be made through existing, highly successful programs such as public natural resources and public land conservation and recreation under the purview of the Pennsylvania Departments of Conservation and Natural Resources, Environmental Protection and Agriculture. These investments would benefit state parks and forests, county and municipal land, organizations that hold land for public benefit and non-profit organizations that work on environmental conservation, restoration, protection and recreation.

Second, a portion of royalty income would be invested by setting it aside in a special account managed by the State Treasurer. Deposits will only be made when royalty payments to the Oil and Gas Lease Fund exceed $70 million per year. This provision takes into consideration budget realities while at the same time setting up the mechanism to build the Public Natural Resources Trust Fund when gas production and prices are robust.

As you may know, the commonwealth has leased a total of over 385,000 acres of state forest land for oil and gas development. Substantial royalty payments are flowing into Pennsylvania’s Oil and Gas Lease Fund from these existing leases. These payments will grow as production and the price of gas increase.

When carefully designed and managed, the Public Natural Resources Trust Fund will enable both the investments and the principal to continue to grow even in the absence of new royalty income - providing conservation investments in Pennsylvania for generations to come.

I believe this Public Natural Resources Trust Fund presents an opportunity to write a new chapter in Pennsylvania’s rich conservation history. Please join me in co-sponsoring this legislation.

Should you have any questions, please contact Samantha Lockhart at 717-772-2283 or by email at SLockhart@pahouse.net.

Introduced as HB1601