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State clarifies impact fee for Pike

April 4, 2012

At a meeting on March 21, the Pike County Commissioners stated their intention to adopt the new Act 13 Impact Fee Gas Drilling law, saying, however, that it wasn’t clear whether they should adopt it or not.

“The question was could we or should we adopt it, despite the fact that we had no gas well drilled within the county’s borders,” said commissioner Karl Wagner.

At that time, Wagner, who is an attorney, advised his commissioner colleagues to vote in favor of the law. “If we did not sign it, it appeared that we couldn’t receive any of the impact fees paid for by the gas drilling companies,” he said.

“Since our roads could suffer from large gas drilling truck traffic and our land be crossed by long pipelines carrying the gas to market, we would wish to be reimbursed for any expenses we incurred in order to make any necessary repairs,” said Rich Caridi, chairman of the commissioners.

After the vote, the commissioners attended a conference in Harrisburg held by the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania (CCAP). Although CCAP holds its annual convention in November, it organizes legislative meetings several times a year for county commissioners to meet with state officials and
learn of legislation that may affect their county.

At the meeting on March 28, Wagner said, “We learned from state officials who attended that the county was not able to adopt the law since it had no gas wells dug in the county. We now have a clear statement from the state that we cannot and should not adopt the law until a gas well is drilled in the county, at which time we can adopt it and begin to receive some of the funds from the impact fees,” he said.

Pike County officials learned about another giant deposit of gas, called the Utica Shale, which lies beneath the much talked about Marcellus Shale, which could possibly be tapped in the future, depending on the arrival of new technology that would make it possible.

If drilling for the Utica Shale ever happened, then the county would at that time adopt the law and be eligible for impact funds, officials said.