Conservation Districts To Get Funding From Impact Fees
After years of discussion and scrutiny, and months of lively debate and negotiation, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett has signed a Local Impact Fee from the extraction of natural gas from underneath much of Pennsylvania.
“This is monumental for the commonwealth of Pennsylvania, its citizens, businesses and communities,” said Robert B. Maiden, executive director of the Pennsylvania Association of Conservation Districts. “The economic importance and significance of the Marcellus shale and other natural gas formations cannot be denied, but the environmental health, conservation and safety of our natural resources must be a priority now and well into the future.”
“This week, the majority of the legislature and Governor Corbett demonstrated tremendous leadership to insure that our local communities and regions are provided with substantial resources,” continued Maiden. “These resources will allow our county conservation districts and communities to keep pace with the growing need for environmental safeguards, education and protection as the exploration and development of the shale continues well into the future here in Pennsylvania.”
The local impact fee will provide a dedicated funding stream to conservation districts. This new, stable stream of funding will allow the districts the opportunity to:
Provide much-needed local support and expertise to conserve and protect our resources in counties with Marcellus shale development;
Support, protect and enhance the number one industry in Pennsylvania: agriculture;
Provide technical assistance to install numerous best management practices, such as riparian buffers and streambank stabilization, to reduce flooding and protect the quality of our water – sedimentation is Pennsylvania’s number one water pollution issue;
Provide important local support to help farmers meet the Chesapeake Bay total maximum daily load (TMDL) requirements without undue financial burden; and
Assist municipalities with floodplain ordinances and stormwater management plans that protect homes and businesses from being flooded.
The districts will also continue to work in communities throughout the state on existing and additional utility right-of-ways, roads, bridges, sewage treatment, and water treatment facilities will be expanded or upgraded along with the expansion of the natural gas industry. Conservation District involvement is constant and will be requested and required as this important resource is developed.
In addition to its efforts to protect the environment from any impacts from natural gas drilling, additional funding would continue the districts’ efforts to help Pennsylvania meet the goals outlined in the Chesapeake Bay Water Implementation Plan; improve and protect the state’s water and air quality; administer stream bank erosion programs; and preserve valuable farmland.