March 27, 2012 —
“The jury is out,” said Anthony Waldron, solicitor at Lackawaxen Township. Waldron spoke at the township meeting on March 21, and was referring to the Act 13 Impact Fee in Pike County. (Since then, county officials have indicated they will adopt the fee.)
Currently, there is no drilling in Pike County, according to Waldron. Pike County has until April 16 to vote on whether it will adopt the fee and how it will be regulated per well. If the county doesn’t set a fee for the wells in its borders, then no funding will be allowed for that calendar year.
Additionally, if a county chooses not to adopt the fee, then municipalities have until June 13 to vote on adopting the fee.
If at least 50% of the county’s total municipalities or municipalities representing at least 50% of the total county population vote to do so, the municipalities can override the county’s vote.
Under the law, the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) is charged with administering the collection fee and determining how the funds will be distributed to municipal and county governments.
In addition, Waldron said that local ordinances have to be amended by August to allow for gas drilling if they do not already do so, or there will be penalties. Local ordinances need only add a gas drilling section to comply, and a public hearing needs to be scheduled before the August 13 deadline.
There are currently no gas laws in any municipalities in Pike County. The law must define oil and gas operations and Act 13 requires that all local ordinances “must allow for the reasonable development of oil and gas resources.” The PUC will review the local ordinances and has 120 days to do so.
“There should be an example of an ordinance that we could follow from the PUC,” supervisor Bob Cocchi said.