Rep. Pam Snyder (D-Fayette) Wednesday announced she plans to introduce legislation to fix language jeopardizing Act 13 drilling impact fee collections.
The bill is in response to a Commonwealth Court decision in March interpreting language in Act 13 to say drillers could avoid paying the impact fee if they allow natural gas wells to produce less than 90,000 cubic feet in just one month a year to put it in the “stripper” well category.
Public Utility Commission Chairman Gladys Brown notified Gov. Tom Wolf in a letter last week the Commission intends to appeal the Court decision she said would cost the state at least $16 million in revenue annually.
At the same time, Chairman Brown said a legislative fix would be quicker.
“My measure would restore the fee structure so the municipalities and counties that host natural gas wells, and the programs that impact fees support, would not be short-changed out of millions of crucial dollars,” said Rep. Snyder.
“As reported, the state Independent Fiscal Office projects that shale gas companies will pay an estimated $175 million in impact fees on 8,200 wells for 2016, a record low even before the court ruling changed the calculations,” Rep. Snyder said. “My bill would reinstate valid thresholds for paying impact fees and protect the communities that are home to such a vital industry.”
Snyder said her proposed change to the fee language is supported by the chairman of the state Public Utility Commission, which collects and disburses fee revenues, and a PUC analysis projects that about 2,400 active wells could revert to stripper well status and not pay a fee based on the ruling.
Related Story:PUC Intends To Appeal Court Ruling Jeopardizing Act 13 Drilling Impact Fee Collections