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Major gas-drilling bill awaits Pa. gov’s signature

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) – A major bill to impose a fee on natural-gas drilling in Pennsylvania and toughen regulations over the booming industry is on its way to Gov. Tom Corbett’s desk.

The state House voted 101-90 on Wednesday after two days of debate. The Senate passed it Tuesday. Corbett, who negotiated it with Republican legislative leaders, is expected to sign it.

Democrats weren’t included in negotiations and were strongly critical of provisions to limit the ability of municipalities to control drilling activity.

Pennsylvania is the largest gas-producing state that doesn’t tax it.

Several conservative groups say the fee is really a tax, while exploration company Range Resources says it’ll provide strong, more predictable regulations that are more costly.

Local governments would decide whether to impose the fee on their local wells.

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