Snyder readying bill to safeguard gas well impact payments

Measure would restore payments to municipalities, counties and programs

HARRISBURG, April 19 – State Rep. Pam Snyder, D-Greene/Fayette/Washington, today said she is drafting legislation that would clarify fees from low-producing natural gas wells and ensure fuller payments to communities and programs.

“A recent Commonwealth Court ruling put the impact fees in disarray,” Snyder said. “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.”

Snyder said her bill would amend Act 13 of 2012 and its unconventional gas well impact fees to stipulate that impact fees would apply to any well that produces 90,000 cubic feet of gas a day in any month of the year.

“The court exempted marginal, unconventional ‘stripper’ gas wells if they failed to produce 90,000 cubic feet of gas a day in every month of the year,” Snyder said. “This interpretation would reduce payments by an estimated $16 million a year and harm the communities that support and host the Marcellus Shale 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.

“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,” Snyder said. “My bill would reinstate valid thresholds for paying impact fees and protect the communities that are home to such a vital industry.”