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Another reminder of importance here of gas industry

The natural gas industry isn’t quite as readily noticeable in local communities as it was when drilling began in the Marcellus Shale here more than a decade ago, when fleets of white trucks filled our parking lots and roads, when hotels were in huge demand and a housing shortage began.

But then the money from the Impact Fee began to flow into local government coffers.

The most recent distribution totals more than $27.8 million to be spread among county and municipal governments in the five-county region served by state Sen. Gene Yaw, R-Loyalsock Township.

That includes $2.2 million for Lycoming County government and another $3.98 million for municipal governments countywide.

Our region has benefitted from the Impact Fee over the past decade, as it should. Since 2011, Lycoming County government has received $38.9 million. Lycoming remains among the top receiving counties for this money.

In that same period, municipal governments, from the City of Williamsport to the county’s nine boroughs and 42 townships, collectively have received $58.7 million.

That’s not to be taken lightly.

Even though some serious money is headed this way, it may be less than what some local officials were anticipating. Low natural gas prices and little new drilling during the pandemic resulted in the 2020 impact fee collections to drop to a record low of $146.2 million statewide, compared with a high in 2018 of $251.8 million, according to the Public Utility Commission.

Expectations are that the dollar amounts will rebound this year as we come out of the pandemic, good news for projects that this money could fund — and more.

“The Impact Fee not only funds critical projects here locally but also a wide variety of important environmental projects in communities throughout the state,” said Yaw, who serves as chairman of the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee.

The industry has served Lycoming County and north central Pennsylvania well. It provided good-paying jobs at a time when the local economy was struggling, and the Impact Fee has helped to keep taxes down while also providing funding for infrastructure projects, emergency preparedness and public safety, water preservation and reclamation, storm water and sewer systems, social services, environmental programs, housing, judicial services, technology information — the list is far greater than the average person might perceive.

“This week’s announcement is another reminder of the importance of this industry in Pennsylvania,” Yaw said.

We agree.

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