HARRISBURG — Pennsylvania state agencies and local governments in places where drilling for natural gas is occurring learned Monday how much money they will get out from a fund that has already collected more than $200 million in "impact fees" from drillers.
Gov. Tom Corbett held a Capitol news conference at which he and other state officials disclosed the breakdown for counties, townships and boroughs. Checks should be going out from the state treasury over the coming 10 days, they said.
All 67 counties get a share of the money, as do the Fish and Boat Commission, the Transportation Department, the Department of Environmental Protection and other state agencies that have some role in regulating or dealing with the drilling industry.
But 60 percent of the $204.2 million fund will go to 35 counties and nearly 1,500 municipalities where drilling occurs, including many rural, sparsely populated areas. The Marcellus Shale drilling boom has been concentrated in a wide swath of the state that runs from the northeast, across the northern part of Pennsylvania and into the southwest corner that borders West Virginia.
"We are serious about becoming energy leaders in this country and the world," Corbett said, adding that the money will help local governments straining to provide services and maintain roads as drillers, their rigs and related activity have accompanied the shale gas boom.
"We know that growth is something that has to be managed," Corbett said.
The impact fee, passed in February for the Marcellus Shale, requires drillers to pay $50,000 for each horizontally drilled well and $10,000 for each vertical well drilled through 2011. The money being distributed was linked to nearly 4,500 wells and covers drilling through 2011. Payments for 2012 are due July 1.
State law restricts how the money can be spent, allowing for such uses as fixing roads and building or repairing water and sewer infrastructure in areas where drilling is being done.
In parts of the state without drilling, the money must be used to build or maintain greenways, recreational trails, open space, natural areas, conservation, beautification, heritage parks or water resource management. Philadelphia's entire $1.3 million share, for example, will go to those types of projects.
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