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Marcellus Shale Impact Fee Makes More Than $14 Million Available For Conservation; Environmental Protection

HARRISBURG, Pa., Feb. 25, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Corbett Administration announced today that the Commonwealth Financing Authority (CFA) has begun accepting applications for five programs established by the Act 13 Marcellus Legacy Fund to support conservation projects and environmental protection measures.

"Governor Corbett is committed to ensuring the Marcellus Shale industry continues developing responsibly, balancing job growth and environmental protection," Department of Community and Economic Development Secretary C. Alan Walker said.  "Act 13 funding directed to the CFA will provide important resources to local governments and state regulatory agencies to address environmental impacts."

The new CFA programs provide $14 million in funding available for abandoned mine drainage, abatement and treatment, watershed restoration and protection, water quality data, greenways, trails and recreation, and orphan and abandoned well plugging programs in the state.  

Act 13, which Gov. Corbett signed into law on Feb. 14, 2012, created an impact fee based on wells drilled in the state. Last year, the fee generated more than $204 million that is benefitting every Pennsylvanian. The majority of the revenues are distributed to local governments where drilling is taking place, with the remainder of the money used for statewide programs or distributed to counties based on population.

The $14 million in CFA funding is in addition to $10.9 million in impact fee funding for conservation and recreation programs that has already been distributed to counties, as well as $7.2 million to the state's Growing Greener fund.

The program guidelines establish eligibility requirements for five separate programs:
  • Abandoned Mine Drainage Abatement and Treatment Program provides grants to restore and maintain stream reaches impaired by abandoned mine drainage and ultimately, to remove these streams from the Department of Environmental Resources Impaired Waters list.
  • Baseline Water Quality Data Program provides grants to use the scientific principles and practices for water sample collection and analysis to document existing groundwater quality conditions on private water supplies. 
  • Greenways, Trails, and Recreation Program provides grants for the planning, acquisition, development, rehabilitation and repair of greenways, recreational trails, open space, parks and beautification projects. 
  • Orphan or Abandoned Well Plugging Program provides grants to provide mechanisms to plug abandoned and orphaned wells that have the potential to cause health, safety or environmental concerns. 
  • Watershed Restoration and Protection Program provides grants to restore and maintain stream reaches impaired by the uncontrolled discharge of nonpoint source polluted runoff and ultimately to remove these streams from the Department of Environmental Protection's Impaired Waters list.

Applicants can begin applying immediately under the new guidelines for the Act 13 Programs through DCED's electronic single application system.  Applications are currently being accepted through July 31, 2013 for consideration at the Nov. 13, 2013 CFA meeting. 

The programs are administered jointly by the Department of Community and Economic Development, the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR), and the Department of Environmental Protection, under the direction of the CFA and DCNR.

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