PITTSBURGH (AP) - A new fee on gas drilling has generated millions of dollars more in revenue than first projected, but other major gas-producing states tax the industry at higher rates, according to an Associated Press analysis.
And the state still won't be setting aside a share to track possible health impacts of drilling.
The state said this week that it has collected almost $202 million of the roughly $206 million in impact fees that's due from gas drilling companies. Projections this spring had been for about $180 million. A few drillers are disputing their bills.
Other states considered to be friendly to the oil and gas industry levy higher taxes on natural gas.
Texas imposes a 7.5 percent tax on the market value of gas produced, and West Virginia and Wyoming are at about 6 percent. Those states base taxes on actual production. Pennsylvania's fee is mostly based on number of wells, and the 2011 revenue works out to about a 5 percent rate.
Pennsylvania's 2011 production would have generated about $300 million at Texas' rate, and $240 million at the rate in Wyoming and West Virginia, the AP found.
The disparity could rise in the near future, since production is still soaring in Pennsylvania, but producers won't pay based on that. For example, at this year's output drillers should sell between $6 billion and $7 billion in gas - enough to generate $360 million to $525 million of taxes in the other states.
According to an analysis from Republican state Sen. Gene Yaw, Pennsylvania's revenues for 2012 are expected to rise by about $30 million. If that projection is accurate, next year's total here will be about $235 million.
The legislation that created the impact fee also originally gave Pennsylvania health officials a share of the revenue, but representatives from Republican Gov. Tom Corbett's office and the state Senate cut that to zero during final negotiations. The department still has some other funds to use, but not enough to create a registry of public health impacts, which had been a top priority.