State Senator Gene Yaw (R-23) is making natural gas availability one of his main objectives for the 2013 session as the Senate is planned to reconvene on Feb. 11.

Yaw, who was re-elected to his second term in November, believes that Pennsylvanians should have the opportunity to take advantage of the Marcellus Shale, one of the largest gas deposits in the world.

The motivation to pursue this issue came primarily from a public meeting held in Wysox in April which discussed residential and commercial gas distribution.

During an interview with The Daily Review on Thursday, Yaw spoke of a 1955 article published in Web Weekly which outlined the same lack of natural gas availability.

Part of the problem, he said, was that the predictions of that time were based on incorrect information which predicted gas deposits would dry up within 20 years. This caused gas lines to never get built, and subsequently brought us to current time where 50 percent of Pennsylvanians do not have access to natural gas.

In order to increase natural gas availability, Yaw supports gas company incentives to promote gas line expansion. Yaw says there are various ways this could be accomplished, some as simple as changing how rates are calculated with the Pennsylvania Utilities Commission.

Yaw spoke of the philosophy seen in Pennsylvania stating the entire rate base should not have to pay for a private extension, but cited road taxes as an example.

Everyone has to pay road taxes, he said, but a lot of the money collected goes to roads that the tax payer will never use.

Yaw will also be monitoring a bill he introduced which standardizes the information which appears on gas royalty forums.

According to Yaw's website, "Senate Bill 259 requires companies producing natural gas to show on each royalty check stub, attachment to a payment form, or other remittance advice a detailed itemization of all royalty deductions from royalties paid to a leaseholder."

The inspiration for the bill came from numerous complaints the senator was receiving on how information varies depending on which gas company is involved.

The bill was passed last week by the Senate unanimously, 50-0, and is now moving to the House of Representatives for consideration.

In addition, the senator talked about the possibility of Pennsylvania turning liquor sales over to the private sector. The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board has been a topic of debate for years now, with many calling for the privatization of liquor sales.

"I don't think people want privatization so much as they want the convenience and accessibility that privatization would bring," Yaw explained.

Yaw believes Pennsylvanians simply want liquor purchases to be more convenient, such as availability on Sunday and allowing sales to be made in convenience stores.

"It is not an issue of privatization," Yaw said.

Yaw also noted a need for pension reform, a need to look into lottery privatization, and made clear his support for the second amendment in the wake of the Newtown, Conn. school shooting.

Tim Zyla can be reached at (570) 265-1634; or email: tzyla@thedailyreview.com.