(Harrisburg) – The State Senate, Thursday, passed a bill sponsored by Senator Gene Yaw, R-Lycoming, which clarifies how farmland is assessed for alternative energies, such as: wind solar and natural gas, by eliminating the inconsistent interpretation of the state’s Clean and Green law. Senate Bill 298, which is designed to better define how the widely used program is administered, was concurred in the Senate and is headed to the Governor for enactment.
“I am pleased this important legislation has passed the Legislature and I am hopeful the Governor will sign it quickly so we it can get it on the books ,” Yaw said. “Farmers and landowners need this bill to become law because it provides counties across the state with a consistent interpretation of the Clean and Green Program. Ultimately, it will alleviate the financial pressure of having to pay roll-back taxes, interest and penalties on entire properties especially before any royalty payments are made to the property owner.”
Yaw said the bill would require a roll-back tax to be levied only on the portion of land filed under the well restoration report and land which is incapable of being immediately reclaimed for Agricultural Use, Agricultural Reserve or Forest Reserve as defined in the original statute.
The bill would allow for the development and use of Tier I alternative energy on any land use category of Clean and Green to be kept under preferential assessment as long as more than half of the energy annually generated is used for agriculture. Examples of Tier I include: solar photovoltaic, solar thermal, wind power, low-impact hydropower, geothermal energy, biologically derived methane gas, fuel cells, biomass energy and coal mine methane.
The bill had called for a similar exemption for non-coal surface mining land enrolled in Clean and Green, but in the end that language was eliminated from the legislation while in committee in the House of Representatives in order to get the bill passed. “We had originally wanted to allow for Bluestone Quarries to be a part of this amendment as they are quite prevalent in the Northern Tier and are in dire need of some help, but in the end were prevented from doing so. I plan to come back with an additional amendment next session which does exactly that because Pennsylvania Bluestone is such a significant product it is almost iconic nationally, yet suffering locally.”
Contact: Adam Pankake