NEW CASTLE —
A Slippery Rock Township landowner with a gas lease fears a county impact fee will drive drillers away.
Robert Henry and his wife, Norma, were among several people offering comments and asking questions yesterday about a proposed impact fee on unconventional natural gas wells in the county.
Following the public hearing, the commissioners unanimously adopted an ordinance to impose the fee, despite a plea from Carrie Hahn of Fayette, Wilmington Township, to take more time to study the newly enacted state law.
The ordinance is in response to state Act 13 of 2013, which allows counties to enact impact fees on unconventional gas wells. The law also imposes statewide regulations and environmental controls on drilling.
Commissioners statewide have 60 days from the act’s passage — Feb. 14 — to enact impact fee ordinances for their respective counties in order to collect a percentage of money from gas wells that existed in 2011.
About 20 people attended the hearing.
The Henrys have signed a lease with Shell Oil Co. on their Center Church Road property in Slippery Rock Township.
Initially, they were told a well would be drilled this year, Henry said, but now Shell says there will be no drilling there this year at all. He said the company gave no reason.
“I know they are scaling back here,” he said.
He said after the hearing that the company did preliminary work on the property, water testing and environmental studies.
“They were to start building a road and a pad in December, but they just kept moving it back,” Henry said.
They moved it back to January, then the couple received an e-mail last week saying Shell is not going to do their well this year.
“They said maybe later on, maybe,” Norma Henry said.
The impact fee is not connected with that decision, Kimberly Windon, a Shell spokeswoman said yesterday afternoon, noting that a public presentation by Shell in Ellwood City recently had listed the Henry farm as a backup well site.