Two weeks ago, the Public Utility Commission delayed a vote on an order implementing its Act 13-related responsibilities, due to confusion about what a Commonwealth Court-issued injunction meant for the agency.
The Commission is in charge of enforcing the new law’s restrictions on local zoning, as well as collecting and distributing impact fee revenue.
The PUC is still waiting for further explanation from the Commonwealth Court. “We are left to try and divine what it is we can go forward with at this point, and what, according to Commonwealth Court, we have to refrain from moving forward with, until there’s further action in the court,” Commissioner Pamela Witmer told a township supervisors’ conference this week.
But the PUC is nevertheless moving forward with part of its its implementation order, which it passed this morning on a 5-0 vote. As the PUC’s press release explains:
The Commission voted 5-0 to finalize the procedures the PUC will use to implement, collect and distribute the impact fee as directed by Chapter 23 of Act 13. Due to uncertainty surrounding pending litigation, the Commission did not address the provisions of Chapter 33, which governs local ordinances that impose conditions, requirements or limitations on oil or gas operations.
The Final Implementation Order adopted today contains information on the:
- Chapter 23 Implementation plans;
- Producer report;
- Municipal budget report; and
- Impact fee disbursement report.
On Feb. 14, 2012, Governor Corbett signed into law Act 13 of 2012, the Unconventional Gas Well Impact Fee Act, which amended Title 58 (Oil and Gas) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes. The PUC is responsible for implementing the provisions contained in Chapters 23 and 33 of the Act. Chapter 23 provides for the imposition, collection and distribution of an unconventional gas well fee (also called a drilling impact fee). Chapter 33 governs local ordinances that impose conditions, requirements or limitations on oil or gas operations. The PUC has created a page on its website for Act 13 information.