Governor Signs Major’s ‘Clean And Green’ Bill Into Law

Wayne Independent

A bill introduced by Rep. Sandra Major (R-Susquehanna/Wayne/Wyoming) will enable Pennsylvania bluestone mining operations to be assessed under Clean and Green, a state program that offers substantial tax incentives for enrolled properties.

The bill was signed into law by Gov. Tom Corbett July 7. It allows eligible non-coal surface mines to be taxed based on the value of the land’s use, rather than on its market value, which can be much higher.

Bluestone mines are not the only operations to be affected by the new law, but they are by far the most numerous in our region.

Bluestone — an unique sandstone found only in Northeastern Pennsylvania — is a high-quality stone used extensively as a building material and for adding architectural details to structures all over the world.

“I drafted this bill in response to concerns from the bluestone industry, county commissioners and county property tax assessment offices on how to properly assess land used for noncoal surface mining,” said Major. “I am pleased members of the General Assembly realized the importance of this bill and gave it their full support, and that the governor was able to sign it into law so swiftly.”

The Clean and Green program was created in 1974 to encourage preservation of agricultural land. Under the law, if the use of the property changes, owners may be assessed roll-back taxes on all or part of the land.

Major says the main concern for the bluestone operators was that rolling back taxes on the entire parcel of land — as opposed to only the portion of land being used — was cost prohibitive to the industry.

Major said, simply put, the new law will make sure land that is used for small noncoal surface mining will be treated the same as land used for wind energy or for oil, gas and coal bed methane exploration and extraction under the Clean and Green program.

“The Pennsylvania bluestone industry is an important job creator in the northern tier,” said Major. “My legislation will help level the playing field when it comes to assessments doled out under the Clean and Green program and support future growth of the industry.

“Currently, landowners who conduct small noncoal surface mining on their properties could face paying roll-back taxes on their entire tract of land,” Major said. “My bill will make sure that these landowners are now only assessed roll-back taxes on the portion of the land being used, which is the same as other landowners whose land is used for similar purposes. In addition, only one small noncoal surface mining permit may be active at only one time per Clean and Green parcel of land.”

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