State Rep. Jesse White on Tuesday introduced legislation that would preserve the Marcellus Shale local impact fee if a severance tax on natural gas production is enacted.
The impact fee, which was enacted in 2012 as part of the state’s natural gas drilling law, Act 13, brought in an estimated $225.7 million in 2013.
The lion’s share of the impact fee goes to municipalities and counties most heavily impacted by drilling to mitigate road and infrastructure damage, and other effects from natural gas development.
White, D-Cecil Township, said that according to current law, if a severance tax is enacted the impact fee will go away by operation of law:
(a) Notice.–The Secretary of the Commonwealth shall, upon the imposition of a severance tax on unconventional gas wells in this Commonwealth, submit for publication in the Pennsylvania Bulletin notice of the imposition.
(b) Date.–This chapter shall expire on the date of the publication of the notice under subsection (a).
White’s legislation, House Bill 2403, would repeal that section of law to ensure any severance tax enacted would not eliminate the local impact fee.
“Like with any industrial operation, local communities and residents feel the impact of natural-gas development, whether it is damage to roads or increased demands placed on emergency-service providers and other resources,” White, whose district includes portions of Allegheny, Beaver and Washington counties. “The Marcellus Shale impact fee is essential for our municipalities dealing with these impacts, and we need to be absolutely certain the impact fee remains available to help lessen those burdens when Pennsylvania finally joins every other gas-producing state by enacting a reasonable severance tax.”
White said that with increased discussion and support from both Republicans and Democrats for a severance tax on natural gas drilling, the only way to be certain the impact fee remains in place is by amending or repealing the language within current law.
“This is a manufactured crisis created by Gov. Corbett and those in Legislature who voted for Act 13, and it must be fixed to ensure the communities impacted by natural gas drilling activity continue to receive the Local Impact Fee,” White said. “Instead of using the threat of losing the Impact Fee as an election year scare tactic, we need to put policy over politics and do the right thing by passing H.B. 2403 without delay.”
“I urge local municipal officials to make sure their voices are heard on this important topic,” White said.