The Association also expressed its appreciation to the Administration and to the Public Utility Commission, which has administrative responsibility for the fund, for their collaborative approach to implementing the fee and other administrative components contained in Act 13, amendments to the Oil and Gas Act adopted earlier this year.
According to CCAP President and Lebanon County Commissioner Jo Ellen Litz, “With the financial pressures facing our counties today, and particularly the pressures on our counties whose services are impacted by shale gas development, we truly appreciate the efforts of the Governor and the PUC to make the funds available on an expedited basis.”
While counties are appreciative of the economic development that has resulted from the shale gas industry, CCAP has documented local service impacts ranging from bridge infrastructure, emergency management, and record keeping through criminal justice, human services and affordable housing issues.
She continued, “The early release of the funds is a visible sign of the commitment of the state to help us address these issues.”
CCAP First Vice President and Berks County Commissioner Christian Leinbach concurred: “The early release of these dollars says two positive things: First that the Marcellus Gas industry is already having positive economic impact for our commonwealth and secondly that the strategy employed via Act 13 is providing critical financial support to impacted communities and counties while providing additional aid throughout the Commonwealth.”
He continued, “As counties we appreciate the responsiveness of state agencies to address county’s questions and concerns in implementing the act. We welcome the flexibility we’ve been given to administer funds based on local needs and the commitment of the commonwealth to full public accountability for the distribution and use of these funds.”
The impact fee is paid by producers of shale gas, based on a sliding scale that takes into account individual well production as well as market prices for the resource. The largest portion of the receipts is allocated directly to impacted county and municipal governments, with additional allocations to conservation districts and housing agencies as well as statewide programs to assist with county and municipal bridge infrastructure, local environmental improvement projects, fleet conversion and others.