WYSOX TOWNSHIP - At a recent meeting of the Bradford County Council of Republican Women, state Rep. Matt Baker talked about the future of the natural gas industry in the area, and he and other local GOP officials also discussed their re-election campaigns.

Baker, R-Wellsboro, said: "Although we do see a ratcheting down of activity (in the natural gas industry), I think that's going to come back. It's just a matter of time.

Baker noted that in the local area, there are twice as many permitted wells as wells in production, and he said he expects more wells to go into production when certain conditions change.

"Over the next three years, the pipelines (that transport natural gas from wells in the local area to market) are probably going to be deployed and finished," said Baker, who has family members who have worked in the natural gas industry. "I was talking to a major pipeline operator the other day, and he thought that within three years most of the pipeline infrastructure will be completed. Once that's completed and the price of natural gas increases, and the utilization of natural gas increases, you're going to see even more wells come into production.

"We may see a softening in the market right now, but obviously that's going to change," Baker said. "Eventually, down the road, you'll see more compressors (installed in the local area)," he said. "I think eventually, we're going to be looking at underground storage as well.

"The markets (for natural gas) are going to open up, once the utilization increases, whether it's (from) fleet vehicles, truck tractors, trucks ... We've already seen in my area a 19 percent reduction in natural gas prices. That's tremendous.

"I think you're going to see a lot of exciting things happen (related to natural gas) over the next three to five years," Baker said at the meeting, which took place at the Towanda Country Club in Wysox Township. "I think you'll continue to see some growth, hopefully in the next year or two, depending on the price and the markets and supply and demand and utilization of natural gas. We are in a very exciting position here in the Northern Tier."

Sen. Gene Yaw said he had supported Act 13, which established the impact fee on natural gas drilling companies. Yaw said he believes that Act 13 is "the most significant piece of legislation for rural Pennsylvania that's occurred in at least the last 50 years."

Yaw said the district he represents is receiving over $42 million in revenue from the impact fee this year, the most of any district in the state.

"And that's only (the amount for) this year," he said. "The projections are that we'll get that amount or more next year and the year after that."

Yaw, who is running for another four-year term in the state Senate, also discussed his accomplishments during his first term.

One of the accomplishments that Yaw mentioned affects family farms.

"We passed a bill that eliminates the inheritance tax (on family farms) and the transfer tax on family farms," Yaw said. "That's a major accomplishment."

Marino, who is also running for another two-year term in Congress, talked about a number of things, including how he would help the economy.

"Downside the government, which is so over-reached, eliminate job crushing regulation, keep the taxes low, and put that money back in the pockets of hard-working, middle-class taxpayers - and then you'll see the economy grow," he said.

State Rep. Tina Pickett discussed legislation she had authored, which requires that government agencies consider the impact that new regulations could have on small business when new regulations are being created. At the ceremony in September when Gov. Tom Corbett signed the legislation into law, Corbett said he intended to do more things to help small businesses, Pickett said.

James Loewenstein can be reached at (570) 265-1633; or email: jloewenstein@thedailyreview.com.