After initial denial, South Fayette will get money from state's impact fee

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HARRISBURG -- After initially being denied its share of this year's new gas drilling impact fee, South Fayette will soon receive its $1,491.94 check.

The township, along with several others in Washington County that are challenging the state's new Marcellus Shale drilling law, were told in October they would not receive any money this year due to complaints against their local ordinances.

Officials with the Public Utility Commission formally ruled against South Fayette's drilling rules that same week, determining that its ordinance conflicts with state law.

But a Commonwealth Court judge ordered a halt to those ordinance reviews late last month, stating that a July ruling prevented any judgment on local drilling rules while court appeals continue.

The state Supreme Court has not issued a ruling since its October hearing on the legal challenge to the state drilling law, known as Act 13.

In a letter sent last week, the PUC informed South Fayette that it is indeed eligible for impact fee funds, which are being sent to local governments.

Deron Gabriel, president of South Fayette's board of commissioners, says the letter wasn't a surprise given the latest court ruling.

He pointed to the township's 60 abandoned shallow wells as a top need for new revenues, saying officials plan to seek additional funds for capping those wells.

"We're hoping that we can begin to address this big problem," Mr. Gabriel said.

The Washington County townships of Cecil and Robinson also will be receiving their fees, which were initially withheld. Under revised figures released last week, Cecil is eligible for $245,000, and Robinson will collect about $225,000.

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Harrisburg bureau chief Laura Olson: or 1-717-787-4254.


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