An area does not have to have natural gas wells to reap the benefits of the bounty. This is the case in Lancaster County where the newly established Marcellus Shale impact fees have the potential to bring in a nice chunk of money.
The Lancaster County Planning Commission estimates a first installment could add up to $2.2 million. The money would have to be used for bridges and parks and preservation of natural lands under Act 13.
Act 13 of 2012 enacted stronger environmental standards, authorized local governments to adopt an impact fee and built upon the state’s ongoing efforts to move toward energy independence as unconventional gas development continues. Among the Act’s provisions are increased setback requirements for unconventional gas development; enhanced protection of water supplies; and strong, uniform, consistent statewide environmental standards. It was established to help offset impacts to roads and services in communities where drilling is taking place.
Drillers are required to pay a fee per well, based on natural gas prices and the Consumer Price Index. In 2012, that amounts to $50,000 per well.
An estimated $180 million is expected to be generated when payments are due to the state Public Utility Commission by Sept. 1. Sixty percent of the money will go to the 37 counties where Marcellus Shale wells have been drilled. Forty percent will go to various state agencies—county conservation districts, Fish and Boat Commission, Public Utility Commission, Department of Environmental Protection, Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, Office of State Fire Commissioner and Department of Transportation—to address statewide issues. Lancaster County’s share would come from this allotment.
Lancaster County officials have not been informed of any specifics on amounts or when they might get the money. At least one local conservation group has given its wish list to the commissioners.
Though Lancaster County is not located on top of the Marcellus Shale formation, natural gas extraction has had an impact there. A $1 billion pipeline planned by UGI Energy Services and two partners is expected to pass through a portion of the county and other county businesses are part of the supply chain.