After years of deliberation on the issue, Pennsylvania legislators passed a bill overhauling the state’s natural gas drilling laws on February 8, 2012.
The legislation places an impact fee on every well drilling for gas in the Marcellus Shale formation. The levy will change from year to year based on natural gas prices and the Consumer Price Index, but in 2012, drillers will pay $50,000 per-well. (Smaller, vertical wells will pay $10,000 this year.)
The bill’s authors estimate the fee will generate around $180 million, when payments are turned in on September 1. 60 percent of the revenue will stay at the local level, going to counties and municipalities hosting wells. The rest will go to various state agencies.
While the fee is administered and collected on the state level, counties will decide whether or not to enact it. County commissioners have until mid-April to enact a fee. If any county chooses not to collect the money, its municipalities will have a 60 day window to override the decision. When more than half of the county’s townships and boroughs pass a resolution calling for a fee, the levy will automatically be adopted.