Washington County to receive largest share of gas impact fees

Scott Beveridge

Washington County will receive the largest share of more than $200 million that was collected from drillers across the state last year in Marcellus Shale natural gas impact fees.

The county itself will get $6.6 million, the most among Pennsylvania’s 67 counties, and its municipalities will receive $11.5 million. That combined $18.1 million likewise ranks first in Pennsylvania.

The fund also is known as Act 13, the state Public Utilities Commission said.

Greene County placed fourth in the state with a payment of $4.7 million, and its Center Township was first among Pennsylvania municipalities with an award of $1.1 million. Greene and its municipalities, combined, will receive a total of $12.8 million, also fourth statewide.

Meanwhile, Amwell Township in Washington County came in fourth in the state with its sum of $793,670.

The state is expected to distribute the money in early July.

“This is certainly welcome news for our communities and our counties, especially in light of the economic challenges we’ve been facing due to the current pandemic,” said state Rep. Pam Snyder, D-Greene. “These funds will go a long way to support several valuable highway, water and sewer projects throughout our district.”

The Southpointe-based Range Resources paid $26.5 million in such fees last year, the largest amount among drillers doing work in Pennsylvania.

Washington County also led the state in the number of wells. It had 1,837 of them in 2019, state records indicate. Greene placed third with 1,423 wells.

Washington County Commission Chairman Diana Irey Vaughan said the county was in the planning stages for how its share of the Act 13 money will be spent.

“Once we have a handle on what the county’s immediate needs are, we will be able to look beyond,” she said.

The 2019 collection of fees was about $42 million lower than the previous year, with the loss attributed to a lower average price of natural gas, the PUC said.

The fees are designed to reimburse counties and municipalities for road wear caused by drilling rigs, and it also can be used for expenses such as infrastructure and social services.

Staff writers Barbara S. Miller and Rick Shrum contributed to this story.