Even in a modest year, gas impact fee generates plenty

The gas drilling activity in the region leveled off in 2012 and that is reflected in the revenues generated from the Act 13 natural gas drilling impact fees.

The Public Utilities Commission announced the revenues recently and the amount going to Lycoming County dropped by about $1.73 million between 2011 and 2012.

But that’s only part of the story.

Lycoming County still received $10,613,467, with almost $6.3 million going to municipalities. The remaining $4.3 million is going to county government, with further distribution to be determined.

That’s a lot of money for local municipalities to meet the demands on infrastructure that result from gas drilling.

If the funds are used as they are intended road and bridge improvements, water and sewer system construction and repairs, housing needs and social service programs municipalities can keep up with the assignment list that comes with gas drilling.

Likewise, we count on Lycoming County government officials to make pragmatic decisions regarding the county’s share of the funding.

The best part, in our view, is that the county, rather than someone in Harrisburg, gets to make those decisions.

While we believe the local share of the impact fees should have been somewhat larger, the direct distribution to local people is far superior to leaving the decision making about the funding to state government.

Even in a down year, the numbers on gas drilling activity locally still were strong. There were 661 gas well in Lycoming County, ranking the county fourth in the state.

The gas drilling industry is here to say. And while the environmental monitoring needs to be strict, the economic impact is beyond question beneficial.