Oil & Gas Journal: Helping Marcellus Communities

  • Marcellus Shale Coalition Pres. Kathryn Klaber said it further underscores that Marcellus production “is positively impacting every square inch of the commonwealth.” She said, “These critical resources will help ensure that local governments are equipped to make the most of this historic opportunity.”

By Nick Snow, Washington Editor

Pennsylvania’s impact fees have raised more than $204.2 million for distribution to communities affected by Marcellus shale natural gas development and state agencies overseeing it, Gov. Tom Corbett (R) said on Oct. 15. The assessments, which the state’s general assembly adopted earlier this year, are an effort to help counties and communities confronted with sudden growth and pressure to provide basic services.

Act 13 gave local governments authorization to impose an impact fee on producers to help pay for essential services. It also increased setback requirements for unconventional gas development, enhanced protection of water supplies, and established uniform statewide environmental protection standards, according to Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection.

“The Marcellus industry continues to create jobs and prosperity for our state’s working families,” Corbett said. “We are excited and encouraged by this growth, but we know that every leap forward has an impact. That’s why this impact fee is appropriate; millions of dollars will go directly to help the communities who need it.” Corbett noted that under Act 13, state agencies with gas development responsibility and oversight will receive $25.5 million in funding, including the DEP and its Oil and Gas Management Office, the Public Utility Commission, the Emergency Management Agency, the Fire Commissioner’s Office, and the Fish and Boat Commission.

Sixty percent of the remaining funds, or $108.7 million, will go directly to 35 counties and 1,485 municipalities near Marcellus shale gas development sites, Corbett continued. Possible uses include construction, repair and maintenance of roads, bridges and other public infrastructure; water, storm water, and sewer system construction and repair; emergency response preparedness, training, equipment, and responder recruitment; and delivery of social services, including domestic relations, drug and alcohol abuse treatment, job training, and counseling.

Other communities

The remaining 40% of the revenue—or $72.5 million—will be distributed to all of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties and their municipalities and set aside for competitive grants for water and sewer, bridge improvements, community parks and recreation, and other local projects, Corbett said.

“I’ve said it before: Energy equals jobs; not just in the industry itself, but in various fields all across Pennsylvania,” he maintained. “We’re ushering in a new industrial revolution, and we’re doing it responsibly with our world-class environmental standards and by providing the communities who are hosting and impacted by gas development with the financial resources they need.” Responding to Corbett’s announcement, Marcellus Shale Coalition Pres. Kathryn Klaber said it further underscores that Marcellus production “is positively impacting every square inch of the commonwealth.” She said, “These critical resources will help ensure that local governments are equipped to make the most of this historic opportunity.”

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