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Natural-gas impact fees since 2012 to top $630 million

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Pennsylvania expects to collect $224.5 million in impact fees from gas drilling in 2014, bringing the total received from such fees since 2012 to $630 million, according to Gov. Tom Corbett's office.

The impact fees, part of Act 13, which modernized the state's oil and gas law, are assessed on each natural-gas well that is drilled.

There were 7,041 active unconventional gas wells in the state in 2013, said Morgan Wagner, spokeswoman for the state Department of Environmental Protection. There were 6,489 wells assessed in 2013, said Patrick Henderson, Corbett's deputy chief of staff and energy executive.

Each well is assessed at a decreasing rate over three years and depending on whether it is horizontal or vertical. A horizontal well is usually longer than a vertical, Henderson said.

In the year the well is drilled, horizontal wells are assessed at $50,000 and vertical wells are $10,000. In 2013, there were 1,187 wells in their first year. Of that, 1,129 were horizontal and the rest vertical, Henderson said.

In the second year, horizontal wells are assessed at $40,000 and vertical wells are $8,000. In 2013, there were 1,320 wells in their second year, and of that, 1,288 were horizontal, Henderson said.

In the third year, horizontal wells are assessed at $30,000 and vertical wells are $6,000. In 2013, there were 3,982 wells in their third year. Of that, 3,798 were horizontal, Henderson said.

The funds are distributed through certain formulas to municipal and county governments, the governor's office said in a news release. Money also goes to the state Department of Environmental Protection, the state Emergency Management Agency, the state Public Utility Commission, the Office of the State Fire Commissioner, and the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission to strengthen their oversight of drilling activities, according to the governor. County conservation districts also receive significant new funding under Act 13, as well as conservation programs such as Growing Greener and the Marcellus Legacy Fund.

What each municipality or agency will receive will be announced and distributed in mid-June, Henderson said.

"We are building a stronger Pennsylvania by harnessing our abundant resources to create jobs for working families, reinvest in our local communities, and protect our environment for generations to come," Corbett said in the release. "Through Act 13, we are protecting public health and safety, safeguarding our environment, and making sure our world-class energy industry grows in a responsible way."

In 2013, wells in the state produced 3.1 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, said Lisa Kasianowitz, DEP spokeswoman. In 2012, wells produced about 1.9 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

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