Ray Warriner is the Chairman/Farm Director of the Susquehanna County Conservation District and is a fourth generation farmer at Agawam Farms at Elk Lake. Below is a letter written to legislators in northeastern Pennsylvania regarding the funding received from the Act 13 Impact Fees established on the oil and gas industry.
June 26, 2015
Pennsylvania is the only oil and gas producing state that imposes a carefully crafted impact fee on the development of these resources. It’s generated over $850 million since 2012. The Susquehanna County Conservation District has been a beneficiary of that legislation.
We’re concerned this highly workable impact fee program will gradually disappear if it is blended into a severance tax program with wholly different objectives. Simply put, the Impact Fee works and shouldn’t be “fixed.” The impact fees being collected needs to stay in the impacted areas.
Susquehanna County, of course, has been one the most prolific Marcellus Shale gas producers and has benefited enormously by the industry. Moreover, thanks to the Act 13 Impact Fee, those benefits include a very intensive commitment to environmental protection and enhancement.
Our District conducts watershed assessment and improvements projects. We also operate numerous programs revolving around erosion and sedimentation pollution control, waterway and wetland protection, Chesapeake Bay protection, dirt and gravel roads pollution prevention and numerous others. The natural gas development has done so much to assist with our programs with ACT 13 monies and is a huge net positive for our area.
If Act 13 funds were not available to the Susquehanna County Conservation District it certainly would have a negative effect on our staff hours adversely impacting our programs. All of our programs focus on trying to ‘keep clean water clean and treat dirty water’. Trying to accomplish this task with less staff is not likely. We will be no longer able to effectively accomplish our mission of protecting our counties natural resources.
Many of your fellow legislators are probably not aware of just how important Act 13 funds are to impacted counties, not only to a rural county such as ours, but also to their own urban interests such as protecting the Chesapeake Bay. They need to know.
Please ensure the Act 13 Impact Fee is not “fixed.” We like it just the way it is and so do the residents of our county.