New Castle News

Marcellus Shale

February 29, 2012

County commissioners adopt gas fee ordinance

(Continued)

NEW CASTLE — THINK INNOVATIVELY

Don Dickinson of Washington Township echoed Hahn’s concerns about rushing into an ordinance.

“This isn’t your money,” he said. “This isn’t the state’s money. This belongs to the people.

“I think it’s easy for the commissioners to grab at the carrot that shale has dangled,” he said, adding that generally speaking, “politicians and bureaucrats are not good custodians of our money.”

He suggested the commissioners sit down with the gas company representatives and “think outside of the box,” and possibly get them to set up a trust fund for the county in lieu of an impact fee ordinance.

“Why take in 60 percent (of the impact fees) when you can have 100 percent?” he said. Forty percent of any county-approved fee goes to state coffers.

Commissioner Dan Vogler responded that the commissioners have had three or four meetings with Shell Oil Co. and invited the economic development corporation and the chamber of commerce executive directors.

The commissioners “made a pitch” to Shell and offered the company local office space with less traffic congestion and lower costs.

However, the company has opened its local offices on New Butler Road.

“We tried to roll out the welcome mats for them, and they aren’t the only company we’ve met with either,” Vogler said.

The public and the media were not included in those meetings.

WHAT’S THE RUSH?

 Jack Carlson of Slippery Rock Township, former owner of Carlson Mining, said he has leased his land for drilling.

He pointed out that the Patterson well in Little Beaver Township has the capacity to generate 9 milllion cubic feet of natural gas per day.

He wonders whether the drilling companies will continue drilling wells here if they are charged impact fees, he said.

Vogler said that the county through the ordinance would realize $21,000 the first year for the two wells already drilled on the Patterson site. That is the county’s portion of 36 percent of the 60 percent it would receive the first year.

 Hahn, who represents a citizens group called The Fracking Truth Alliance of Lawrence County, asked why the commissioners are moving so quickly to vote on the ordinance.

“Even a 60-day window is not long enough,” she said.

She urged the commissioners to postpone their decision until the municipalities all have a chance to study it.

(Email: dmorris@ncnewsonline.com)

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