Washington, Greene to receive $14M in impact fees this year

Gideon Bradshaw
Observer Reporter

Washington and Greene counties will receive $14.4 million in total this year from impact fees paid by shale gas drillers.

Those allotments were part of $251.8 million in allotments under Act 13, the 2012 overhaul to the state oil and gas law, that the state Public Utility Commission announced Thursday.

Pennsylvania does not levy a severance tax on oil and gas, but – to offset the effects of industry on local infrastructure and services – assesses an impact fee on eligible fracking wells and distributes the money to counties and municipalities based on how many wells they host.

Local and county governments can use the money for purposes that include roads, storm and sewer infrastructure, emergency services and affordable housing programs.

Washington and Greene counties will receive $8.4 million and $6 million, respectively, from the impact fees, making them among the counties receiving the largest share of impact fees.

Last year, $7.3 million in impact fees went to Washington and $4.9 million went to Greene.

Of the 9,560 wells eligible for the fees last year, 1,655 were in Washington – more than any other county in the state – and another 1,184 were in Greene, which had the third-largest number.

The number of eligible wells statewide this year exceeds last year’s count, 8,518, by more than 1,000. The increase in wells contributed to a roughly $33.4 million jump in fee revenue statewide.

Municipal and county governments directly affected by drilling will receive a total of $134.7 million. Another $89.8 million will go to the Marcellus Legacy Fund, which provides money for environmental, highway, water, sewer and other projects throughout the state.

A final $18.4 million will flow to state agencies involved in regulating the industry.

Of the money being doled out this year, $8.9 million comes from fees at issue in litigation that prompted the state Supreme Court to rule in December that certain so-called “stripper wells” were in fact eligible for the fees.

Washington received $123,000 based on the ruling. For Greene, that figure was $180,000.

Those counties are also home to the only four municipalities in the state that will each get more than $1 million. Those were Greene’s Center, Morris and Franklin township, plus Washington’s Amwell Township.

The top two well operators paying the fees were Range Resources – $32.7 million – and EQT, which paid $24.8 million.

For more details on the Public Utility Commission’s report, visit act13-reporting.puc.pa.gov.