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Drillers pay $200 million under Pennsylvania's impact fee

By Bob Downing Published: September 11, 2012

From Tuesday's Philadelphia Inquirer:

Natural-gas companies have paid nearly $200 million to Pennsylvania's Public Utility Commission to meet the requirements of the impact fee imposed by Act 13.

The PUC released the numbers Monday, 10 days after the deadline for companies to send checks.

When the legislation was being debated, lawmakers came up with an initial estimate of $180 million in revenue. The current tally, however, shows $205.9 million owed and $197.6 million paid.

Some companies are disputing the amount they owe; others have not responded to letters and reminders from the commission, PUC spokeswoman Jennifer Kocher said.

The Marcellus Shale Coalition, an industry group, termed the amount "staggering by any measure."

"At a time when budget shortfalls are stretching state and local governments to their limits, responsible American natural-gas production is helping to support tens of thousands of good jobs and providing enormous, much-needed revenues for critical services," said Kathryn Klaber, coalition president.

Nevertheless, she said, the amount "serves as a stark reminder that we must ensure that we have commonsense policies in place, especially local zoning uniformity, at the center of Act 13, which encourage economic growth, job creation, and additional revenue."

George Jugovic Jr., president and CEO of the environmental group Citizens for Pennsylvania's Future, said the roughly $200 million "doesn't look like that much" if all of the potential impacts of gas drilling are taken into account.

Considering an estimated $3 million to $8 million per mile to build a two-lane rural road, he said, the amount "doesn't seem to be such a large pot from which to draw money to compensate for impacts of the industry."

"Of course, that assumes that the real intent of the fee was to address many of the impacts, and I don't think that was the real intent," Jugovic said. "The end game was a political compromise."

Statewide, 4,034 horizontal wells and 419 vertical wells fell under the Act 13 provisions, signed into law Feb. 14.

The fee is based on the number of wells drilled, the types of wells, and how much they produced. The PUC will distribute the money to counties and municipalities, with additional money going for statewide projects.



 

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Ohio Department of Natural Resources' Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management State agency Web site.

ODNR Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management. State drilling permits. List is updated weekly.

ODNR Division of Geological Survey.

Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.

Ohio State University Extension.

Ohio Farm Bureau.

Ohio Oil and Gas Association, a Granville-based group that represents 1,500 Ohio energy-related companies.

Ohio Oil & Gas Energy Education Program.

Energy In Depth, a trade group.

Marcellus and Utica Shale Resource Center by Ohio law firm Bricker & Eckler.

Utica Shale, a compilation of Utica shale activities.

Landman Report Card, a site that looks at companies involved in gas and oil leases.FracFocus, a compilation of chemicals used in fracking individual wells as reported voluntarily by some drillers.

Chesapeake Energy Corp,the Oklahoma-based firm is the No. 1 driller in Ohio.

Rig Count Interactive Map by Baker Hughes, an energy services company.

Shale Sheet Fracking, a Youngstown Vindicator blog.

National Geographic's The Great Shale Rush.

The Ohio Environmental Council, a statewide eco-group based in Columbus.

Buckeye Forest Council.

Earthjustice, a national eco-group.

Stop Fracking Ohio.

People's Oil and Gas Collaborative-Ohio, a grass-roots group in Northeast Ohio.

Concerned Citizens of Medina County, a grass-roots group.

No Frack Ohio, a Columbus-based grass-roots group.

Fracking: Gas Drilling's Environmental Threat by ProPublica, an online journalism site.

Penn State Marcellus Center.

Pipeline, blog from Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Marcellus shale drilling.

Allegheny Front, environmental public radio for Western Pennsylvania.