News Release: Marcellus Shale Report
Township Association Applauds Actions of State’s
Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission
The Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors has been asking lawmakers to impose an impact fee on natural gas drillers and deliver much of the revenue to municipalities dealing with the side effects of the growing industry.
In recent weeks, the Association has also urged Harrisburg to keep land use decision making where it belongs: at the local level.
Now, it’s one step closer to those goals.
On Friday, the state’s Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission, a group of 30 government and natural gas industry leaders, delivered its final report to Gov. Tom Corbett. Among the 96 recommendations, the commission unanimously supported an impact fee, saying that it would help communities on the front lines cover the costs of roads and bridges, emergency response, fire and police protection, public water and sewer systems, natural resource oversight, and permit review and enforcement, to name a few.
The commission also agreed that the state should maintain local land use controls that are reasonable and based on common sense.
PSATS Executive Director David M. Sanko served on the commission and applauded the hard work of his colleagues.
“We were tasked with coming up with a common-sense blueprint for Pennsylvania’s future that demonstrates that we have learned from our past (coal, timber, and steel expansions). And with an eye to the future, the commission crafted a balanced, smart, and safe plan for Pennsylvania that protects our precious natural resources (air, water, and land), helps spur economic development and job creation, makes us an energy player, reduces our national dependence on foreign oil, and imposes tougher civil and criminal penalties on violators,” Sanko said.
“Most important, though, the report recognizes the significant role that local government plays in preserving Pennsylvania’s quality of life,” he added. “By embracing a local impact fee, the commission is helping to avoid potential property tax increases. At the same time, the commission endorsed the preservation of local common-sense zoning over a state-mandated, ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution. This ensures that our local leaders and citizens maximize the benefits of natural gas exploration and minimize the negative impacts.”
Since its formation in May, the commission has held five public hearings and 16 public work group meetings, heard testimony from 100 citizens, and received more than 600 emails and letters.
“Many ideas, including those from people of all walks of life and previously introduced legislative proposals, have been incorporated into this ‘next-step’ document that sets the stage for a final solution to be crafted by the governor and legislature for the benefit of Pennsylvania’s future,” Sanko said.
In addition to praising the commission’s work, Sanko also recognized those lawmakers, including Sen. Joe Scarnti, who in recent months have introduced legislation to address the impact of drilling on the state’s land and water. Scarnati, for instance, developed Senate Bill 1100, which would impose an impact fee on drillers and comes the closest to addressing the commission’s overall recommendations, Sanko said.
“Along the way, the natural gas industry has done its part, too: In particular, it has spent millions of dollars rebuilding and improving local roads,” he said. “This is an exciting new chapter for Pennsylvania, and I’m confident that we are headed in the right direction.”
The Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors represents Pennsylvania’s 1,455 townships of the second class and for the past 90 years has been committed to preserving and strengthening township government and securing greater visibility and involvement for townships in the state and federal political arenas. Townships of the second class represent more residents — 5.5 million Pennsylvanians — than any other type of political subdivision in the commonwealth.
Ginni Linn, PSATS Director of Communications