Governor Tom Corbett today announced that county and municipal allocation amounts from the Act 13 natural gas impact fee are now available for review on the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission’s (PUC) website.
“These dollars are helping local communities all across Pennsylvania meet their critical obligations to their constituents without the need to raise local taxes,” said Corbett.
In early April, Corbett announced that impact fee revenue totalled over $225 million for the calendar year 2013, an increase in revenue of over 11% from 2012. To date, the impact fee has generated a total of $630 million in new revenue for the citizens of Pennsylvania since its enactment in February 2012. This revenue is in addition to nearly $2 billion in corporate and personal income tax revenue paid by oil and gas companies since the onset of significant Marcellus Shale activity in Pennsylvania seven years ago.
“With this new revenue, we are making significant investments in conservation and environmental protection projects throughout the commonwealth, including the first infusion of new money into the Growing Greener program since 2002,” continued Corbett.
Under Act 13, county and municipal governments can use their shares of the money on various expenses related to natural gas development, including:
- 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, responder recruitment;
- Preservation and reclamation of surface and subsurface water supplies;
- Records management, geographic information systems and information technology;
- Projects which increase the availability of affordable housing to low-income residents;
- Delivery of social services, including domestic relations, drug and alcohol treatment, job training and counselling;
- Offsetting increased judicial system costs, including training;
- Assistance to county conservation districts for inspection, oversight and enforcement of natural gas development; and
- County or municipal planning.
Additionally, state and county agencies with responsibility and oversight of natural gas development will receive $17 million in funding for this round of impact fee revenues, including the Department of Environmental Protection, Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, the PUC, the Office of the State Fire Commissioner, and the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission.
Approximately $123 million will be distributed to county and municipal governments in over 40 counties that host shale gas activity. Another $82 million will be distributed through the Marcellus Shale Legacy Fund to counties for parks, recreation, greenway trail and bridge improvements, as well as competitive grants awarded to local governments and non-profit organizations for environmental improvement projects.
In 2013, Pennsylvania became the second-largest natural gas producing state in the nation. The abundance of low-cost natural gas has driven electric and natural gas prices down nearly 40 percent since 2008, saving the average Pennsylvania resident nearly $1,200 annually in lower energy costs. After importing 75 percent of its natural gas just five years ago, Pennsylvania has become a net exporter of gas for the first time in more than 100 years.
“Pennsylvania is leading the way toward energy security and independence, while creating new jobs for our citizens and setting the stage for a manufacturing renaissance,” Corbett said. “I am proud to have partnered with the members of the General Assembly as Pennsylvania sets the standard for safe and responsible shale gas development.”
Act 13, signed in February 2012, also significantly enhanced the state’s environmental standards, with new protections for surface and groundwater; increased setback distances between drilling activity and critical resources and facilities; citizen notice of permitting activity; increased fines and enhanced penalties; increased well bonding; mandatory inspections and chemical disclosure, and a host of other environmental and public safety improvements. Corbett noted that last fall, the commonwealth was invited to present its success story on improving environmental protections to the National Governors Association shale gas seminar.
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