Gov. Tom Corbett today announced that Act 13 has generated more than $204.2 million through the new impact fee.
Most of this money will be distributed directly to local communities across the state—except for in the case of Cecil Township, Mount Pleasant, Robinson and South Fayette.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported those communities will have their share of the local impact fee witheld until their ordinances governing drilling have been reviewed by the state and deemed in compliance with Act 13.
In all four instances, residents lobbied the Public Utilities Commission to review those ordinances. In addition, Range Resources also filed a request for South Fayette's ordinance to be reviewed.
Reached Monday afternoon, Cecil Township Manager Don Genusso said, "The board is certainly concerned."
Reached Monday, state Rep. Jesse White, who represents Cecil, South Fayette, Mount Pleasant and Robinson, said, "This is blatant extortion and it is beyond outrageous."
"There are two critical points that people need to understand. First, not one word of the Act 13 challenge dealt with the impact fee in any way," the lawmaker continued. "They are totally unconnected."
White continued: "Second, the municipalities in question have never denied a drilling permit application so any claim that their ordinances are illegal have no basis in fact or law."
White noted that the four municipalities whose ordinances are under review are also ones involved in the challenge to the zoning portions of Act 13—and the news comes just two days before oral arguments are set to be heard before the state Supreme Court regarding the state's appeal to portions of the state law that were struck down in Commonweath Court.
"Let's call this what it is: This is Range Resources and a handful of their leaseholders holding the people of this municipality hostage for their own short-sighted and selfish agenda," White said. "This money belongs to the taxpayers and it should be used for roads, police and fire departments and parks, and by using it as a tool to divide our communities, it becomes plain to see they are not the good neighbors they claim to be."
Range Resources Spokesman Matt Pitzarella could not immediately be reached for comment.
State Sen. Tim Solobay, D-Canonsburg, who also represents the area, could not immediately be reached for comment.
Corbett said that counties and municipalities may use these funds on various
expenses related to impacts from natural gas development, including:
· Construction, repair and maintenance of roads, bridges and other public
· Water, storm water and sewer system construction and repair;
· Emergency response preparedness, training, equipment, responder
· Preservation and reclamation of surface and subsurface water supplies;
· Records management, geographic information systems and information
· Projects which increase the availability of affordable housing to low-income
· Delivery of social services, including domestic relations, drug and alcohol
treatment, job training and counseling;
· Offsetting increased judicial system costs, including training;
· Assistance to county conservation districts for inspection, oversight and
enforcement of natural gas development; and
· County or municipal planning.
Under Act 13, state agencies with responsibility and oversight of natural gas
development will receive $25.5 million in funding, including the Department of
Environmental Protection, the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission, the
Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, the Office of the State Fire
Commissioner, and the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission.
In addition, 60 percent of the remaining funds will be allocated directly to counties and local municipalities that host Marcellus Shale natural gas development. All told, 35 counties and 1,485 municipalities will share in $108.7 million.
The remaining 40 percent of the revenue—or $72.5 million—will be distributed to all 67 counties and their municipalities across Pennsylvania, and set aside for competitive grants for projects such as water and sewer, local bridge improvements, local community park and recreation, Growing Greener and other municipal projects.
Today’s announcement comes at a time when nearly 240,000 Pennsylvanians are employed directly and indirectly within the oil and gas industry. The $204.2 million in impact fee revenue is also in addition to the over $1.6 billion in corporate, sales and personal income taxes generated by the industry since 2006, including $420 million last year.
To see detailed distribution information, please visit www.puc.pa.gov