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Pennsylvania PUC Finalizes Act 13 Impact Fee Procedures

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) on Thursday finalized how the new unconventional natural gas drilling impact fee for Marcellus Shale operators enacted under Act 13, will be imposed, implemented and collected, but because of pending litigation, rules that govern oil and gas operations were not addressed.

Act 13, which was signed into law by Gov. Tom Corbett in February, amended Title 58 (Oil and Gas) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes (see Shale Daily, Feb. 9). The PUC is responsible for implementing the provisions contained in Act 13's Chapters 23 and 33 (No. M-2012-2288561). Chapter 23 provides rules on how to impose, collect and distribute the impact fee, while Chapter 33 governs local ordinances that impose conditions, rules or limits on oil or natural gas operations.

The law was to take full effect April 14, followed by PUC's implementation, but Commonwealth Court Judge Keith B. Quigley delayed the start date for a portion of the law to allow local governments more time to adopt the standardized zoning measures (see Shale Daily, April 12). Because of Quigley's ruling, the PUC in late April also delayed implementing the two chapters because of the "ambiguities" in Quigley's ruling (see Shale Daily, April 30).

With those questions partially resolved, the PUC voted 5-0 to finalize the impact fee procedures in Chapter 23. The commissioners' final order contains information on implementation plans; producer reports; municipal budget reports; and impact fee disbursement reports. However, because of pending litigation, the commissioners didn't address the provisions of Chapter 33.

For information about the rules, the PUC has created a page on its website for Act 13.

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