DUNCANSVILLE - Juniata Township supervisors are taking a wait-and-see position before speculating how the township will benefit from recent state legislation creating a Marcellus Shale impact fee.
"It's looking good that we're going to get something, whereas before we weren't going to get anything," Supervisors Chairman David Rimbeck said.
Gov. Tom Corbett signed legislation in mid-February to amend the state's Oil and Gas Act, providing for the levy of fees on gas-producing wells through ordinances adopted by counties or municipalities.
Blair County commissioners have begun the process of putting an ordinance in place, thereby sparing municipalities from having to handle the task.
Rimbeck said he participated in a recent online seminar about the newly adopted law and learned that the fee applies only to gas-producing wells and reflects production in the previous year.
"It's just like with the windmills," Rimbeck said. "We don't get anything until they start producing."
The state Department of Environmental Protection indicates on its website that eight Marcellus Shale wells have been drilled in Blair County: five in Juniata Township, one in Greenfield Township and two in Logan Township.
Supervisors said they think one of the five wells in Juniata Township is generating natural gas, but they have no information about it or the others.
"We really don't know what they're producing," Supervisor David Kane said. "We can ask questions, but we really have no say. It's all regulated by DEP."
DEP has started posting gas-well production reports on its website that are available for downloading. The available time frames show no reports posted by well operators in Blair County.
Rimbeck said he won't make any plans for spending the revenue until he has a check in hand. Under the legislation, the township can use it to build and maintain roads, improve water, stormwater and sewer projects and to reduce taxes.
"This is a good thing," Kane said.
The governor announced in October that he would accept some recommendations from his Marcellus Shale Natural Gas Commission, including an impact fee for use by local governments, counties and state agencies that respond to issues and concerns linked to Marcellus Shale gas drilling. He distinguished the fee from a tax by pointing out that revenue from a tax would have gone to the state's general fund.