The state House passed a bill recently that will allow Pennsylvania to lease mineral rights on some state-owned lands.
State universities could soon have gas drilling in their backyards. The bill will allow natural-gas exploration, coal mining, and limestone quarrying around universities, prisons, and other state institutions. The Senate approved the legislation before the House.
Supporters say it will provide new revenue for state agencies. It was announced that some of the funds will be used for scholarships.
Opponents claim that industrial activity such as drilling in not appropriate in areas of learning. They also have said that the institutions were forced to support the bill because of budget cuts.
The House approved the bill by 136-62. The Senate approved it in June by 46-3. Gov. Corbett is expected to sign it.
Several state agencies such as the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Game Commission, and Fish and Boat Commission are already allowed to enter into leases for resource development.
The fees and royalties generated by the leases would be split three ways: 50 percent of the fees would be retained by the university where the resources are located, 35 percent would be allocated to other universities, and 15 percent would be used for tuition assistance at all 14 of the State System of Higher Education schools.
For other state institution leases (like prisons), 60 percent of the revenue would be allocated to the Oil and Gas Lease Fund, 25 percent of the funds would go to The Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority, and the agency where the resources are located would receive 15 percent.
Several universities are directly atop the Marcellus Shale. Mansfield, Lock Haven, Indiana, and California Universities are directly over the shale, and Clarion and Slippery Rock are on the edges of the Marcellus.