Pennsylvania: Marcellus Shale legislation goes into effect for fees, but not zoning portion

SALEM, Ohio — Most of Pennsylvania’s Marcellus shale impact fee legislation is now official, but a state appellate judge blocked part of it with an injunction April 11.

The final bill is dubbed Act 13. The legislation went into effect April 16 and requires well drillers to pay fees based on the number of Marcellus shale wells they have producing and the price of natural gas.

Injunction

The part of the legislation that would breach local zoning laws is raising ire among some municipalities and townships.

A lawsuit filed by seven townships including Robinson, Peters, Cecil and Mount Pleasant townships in Washington County, Nockamixon Township and the borough of Yardley in Bucks County, and South Fayette Township in Allegheny County, in addition to the Delaware Riverkeeper Network and Dr. Mehernosh Khan was responsible for the injunction being ordered.

The lawsuit was filed because the townships and other municipalities feel the language in the legislation limits the local governments’ ability to zone and regulate drilling.

The municipalities will use the 120-day injunction to set new zoning regulations. Another court date in the matter has not been set yet.

Background

As part of the legislation, impact fees are being levied. This portion of the legislation will carry on for now. Each county will be gaining more money in its coffers with the payment from the drilling companies for each well.

For example, Washington County has 550 wells and it could receive up to $23 million for state and local budgets. State legislators estimate the fee will generate around $180 million for the state.

The Public Utility Commission will regulate the fee and be the decision maker in deciding whether or not local governments’ drilling rules are reasonable, according to the legislation.

Sept. 1, 2012

The next big date to remember is Sept. 1, 2012. That day will be the due day for retroactive 2011 fees.

About the Author

Kristy Foster Seachrist lives in Columbiana County raising sheep and horses. She earned her degree from Youngstown State University and has worked in both print and broadcast journalism. You can follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/fosterk96. More Stories by Kristy Foster Seachrist

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