Lancaster-Based Group Weighs in on Impact Fee Bill
Although I have been in support of a gas severance tax or impact fee that would support municipalities being drilled, I have huge concerns about Sen. Scarnati’s SB 1100 (also co-sponsored by Sen. Yaw). It seems to be the only bill that Governor Corbett will consider signing, but at its core it is actually a gas industry kickback. It would raise about $200 million over the next two years, and almost 60 percent would go to municipalities where there is drilling. But there is a stipulation that kills it—or should kill it.
In order to receive any funds, municipalities must give up their own zoning ordinances related to drilling, and adhere to a statewide “model ordinance.” This is the kickback part. The industry has been complaining about municipalities tightening their ordinances—adding restrictions about traffic, noise and locations of well pads. This is inconvenient for them. Scarnati introduced a bill that would take care of that pesky problem—bullying municipal-ities into compliance by withholding funds for damaged infrastructure.
Their plans for the “model ordinance” are very clear: to allow wells, processing plants and compression stations as a “permitted use by right” in most districts and, by special exception, in residential districts, and to not limit hours of operation, noise, light, height, fencing, vehicular weight, erosion or storm water run-off. If a municipality enacts anything more stringent than the “model ordinance,” they will not receive any funding. To give up zoning rights for the equivalent of a three percent tax? I don’t see how that helps Pennsylvania.
Elaine Lapp Esch
Community Action Forum on Marcellus Shale Gas