Reinforcing his strong support of the environment and the 66 conservation districts across the Commonwealth, Sen. Joseph Scarnati (R-Jefferson) proposed a vital, permanent source of revenue that aims to protect and serve Pennsylvania’s communities, local governments and environment for years to come.
“The new impact fee proposed by the Senator sends a clear message to his colleagues in the Senate and House that a new stream of funding from the valuable Marcellus Shale resource is indeed the right thing to do for Pennsylvania, its communities and environment,” said Robert B. Maiden, Executive Director of the PA Association of Conservation Districts. “If Pennsylvania is to develop this industry responsibly, organizations like the Conservation Districts and local governments must have the essential tools and capital available to continue to protect, preserve and enhance our environment. Senator Scarnati’s proposal does just that.”
Sen. Scarnati’s plan provides a base $10,000 fee per gas well, with mechanisms in place for the fee to be raised depending on the life of the well and the price of natural gas. An estimated $121.2 million in fees would be collected by March 1, 2012, including a retroactive $45 million generated from wells drilled in 2010. Most of the revenues would be distributed to local governments through a Local Services Fund, with smaller portions of the fee distributed to county conservation districts and statewide environmental and infrastructure impacts.
As the Marcellus Shale development continues and expands, so does the responsibility of the Conservation Districts to the region’s they serve. The proposed fee would allow the District’s to continue to provide vital services from permitting to improving water quality, open space, farm land preservation, air quality and streambank erosion programs. These programs, in addition to the myriad of other services that the District’s offer to their communities, will be guaranteed to expand and grow with the implementation of an impact fee.