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Marcellus shale gas-drilling site along PA Route 87, Lycoming County. (Image: Nicholas A. Tonelli via Flickr)

Pennsylvania counties see less money from gas drilling fee

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Pennsylvania counties and municipal governments will see less money from a state fee on Marcellus Shale gas wells, as expected.

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission said Wednesday that impact fee revenue from Marcellus Shale wells dropped by $36 million to about $188 million. That’s the lowest annual payment in the five-year history of the impact fee, and it’s the second year of decline.

A persistent slump in natural gas prices and the aging of Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale wells have reduced the value of the fee, according to the utility commission, which collects the fee and distributes it. Checks will go out before July 1.

Most of the money, about $102 million, will go to county and municipal governments where the gas wells are drilled. About $68 million will be earmarked for environmental programs, roadway repairs, water and sewer infrastructure upgrades and other projects. The rest, about $18 million, goes to state agencies.

Among counties, the biggest recipients will be Washington County at $5.7 million, down more than $800,000 from the year before, Susquehanna County at $5.3 million and Bradford County at $4.9 million.

Among municipalities, Morris Township in Greene County will receive the most, at $848,000, followed by Auburn Township in Susquehanna County, at $805,000, and Cogan House Township in Lycoming County, at $799,000.

Under the impact fee law, counties and municipalities can choose to use the money in more than a dozen ways. Typically, they put most of it in rainy-day funds or spend it on infrastructure projects and public safety and emergency preparedness.

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