PETERS TOWNSHIP (KDKA) — Shale gas drilling sites have sprouted up throughout the region in recent years, and now the towns that host them – like Peters Township – are getting back a piece of the action.
“We’re very happy to receive the money,” said Michael Silvestri, the manager of Peters Township. “We think it will go a long way to address current and future impacts.”
Despite calls for a severance tax on drillers, the Corbett administration settled on an impact fee instead.
The money goes directly to towns like Peters, which will get a quarter of a million dollars this year, which Silvestri says will go primarily to road repair and road maintenance.
“I think if it became a tax it could have easily been dispersed for other uses and may never have gotten to municipalities,” he says.
The impact fees have raised more than $200 million; $4 million is being dispersed in Washington County, but not everyone’s on the list.
Some local municipalities, which have seen the most drilling activity, are getting nothing.
That’s because Cecil Township, Mt. Pleasant, Robinson Township and South Fayette have challenged Act 13, the impact fee law.
These towns want the right to zone drilling away from residential areas and schools, like in South Fayette, and the state is withholding their allocations.
“The very towns that have been impacted the most are not getting the money merely because they’ve chosen to exercising their rights and to try and protect their Constitutional right to establish zoning district in their towns,” said attorney Jonathan Kamin.
On Wednesday, Act 13 opponents and the Corbett administration will square off in front of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.
So, with these impact fees, there are the haves and the have nots. While the haves are happy, the battle over shale gas drilling is going all the way to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.