July 18, 2019
The numbers alone can speak for themselves.
Lycoming County received $10.5 million from the Natural Gas Impact Tax for 2018. North central Pennsylvania received $50.6 million. The state of Pennsylvania, in total, received $251.8 million. Since the impact fee was legislated in 2012, the state has received $1.7 billion from it.
The impact fee is clearly no insignificant revenue producer for the state, county and its municipalities.
And this year’s revenues are among the most bountiful of the seven years, bolstered by a resurgence in natural gas drilling.
What separates the impact fee from other state levies is the regulations attached to it. Most of it goes not to Harrisburg and the state’s General Fund — where who knows what happens to it — but to counties and municipalities impacted by natural gas drilling.
Lycoming County government will receive $4.1 million from the latest impact fee distribution and municipalities in the county will receive $6.1 million.
If the past is any indication, county government will use the money for purchasing capital items, helping to keep those costs out of the locally funded portion of the budget.
The local governments will use the impact fee revenues for flood mitigation and prevention, emergency response planning and equipment, improvement of wastewater treatment facilities, brownfield site remediation and plugging of abandoned wells.
And throughout the region, economic development is bolstered through use of the impact fee revenues.
That’s a much better bang for the buck than county government or any of the municipalities would get out of a severance tax.
As long as environmental regulations are being strictly and fairly enforced, the natural gas industry can continue to bolster the state’s economy and its employment rolls while giving Pennsylvania an energy asset with consumer and export benefits few states can boast.