Fracking impact fees’ revenue jumped 19% in a record-breaking 2022, new PUC data shows

HARRISBURG — The state collected almost $279 million in impact fees from the fracking industry in 2022, a 19% increase over 2021 and the most in any year since the state began collecting the fees over a decade ago.

Prior to 2022, the largest amount of impact fees collected in any year was in 2018, when the state brought in $250 million.

County and municipal governments directly affected by drilling will receive a total of $157.4 million for the 2022 reporting year, according to the Public Utility Commission. Additionally, $103.6 million will be transferred to the Marcellus Legacy Fund, which provides financial support for environmental, highway, water and sewer projects, rehabilitation of greenways and other projects throughout the state. Also, $17,889,950 will be distributed to state agencies, as specified by Act 13, according to the PUC.

The two counties receiving the biggest impact fee checks will be Washington and Susquehanna counties, PUC data shows. Washington County, with 1,963 wells, will receive a $9 million impact fee check. Susquehanna County, with 1,968 wells, will receive an $8.96 million check.

The PUC said the increase in impact fee payments was largely due to the increased price of natural gas and the addition of 574 new wells.

Depending on when a well was drilled, the impact fee ranges from $11,600 to $69,100 when the price of natural gas tops $6, as it did in 2022. That $6 threshold is key because it’s the upper-limit, meaning the impact fee won’t go up any more regardless of how much the price of gas increases, unless the PUC takes action to increase the fees.

The price of natural gas was $3.84 in 2021, meaning the impact fees collected that year ranged from $11,600 to $57,500.

The industry added 56 more wells in 2022 than it did in 2021, according to the American Petroleum Institute Pennsylvania.

“Pennsylvania-produced natural gas benefits families and businesses with access to abundant, reliable energy while injecting millions of dollars annually into environmental programs, infrastructure upgrades, public parks and public safety in both producing and non-producing regions alike,” said American Petroleum Institute Pennsylvania Executive Director Stephanie Catarino Wissman. “Our industry has long invested and operated in the Keystone State with the safety, health and economic growth of local communities in mind.”

Author: John Finnerty
Publication: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
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