Which County will be Duped into Imposing Marcellus Tax?

On Monday, Gov. Tom Corbett signed House Bill 1950, the Marcellus Shale impact tax, into law.

The funding formula funnels the first $23 million in revenue to statewide programs. Local communities get 60 percent of whatever is left, with the state getting the rest for additional programs. To see the revenue distribution chart, click here.

With Harrisburg politicians’ pet projects getting a large chunk of the initial revenues, county officials face a “Prisoners’ Dilemma.” The first county to enact the tax will send the funds to Harrisburg. If a county acts alone in imposing the tax, they risk reaping less than $23 million and getting nothing in local revenue.

About 460 Marcellus wells need to be taxed this year to feed the state its $23 million. According to State Impact PA, only three counties (Bradford, Tioga, and Washington) have enough producing wells currently to generate more than $23 million. And already, Bradford County commissioners – where the lion’s share of drilling is occurring – have said “no thanks” to a new tax. The commissioners note the county already received ample revenue from drillers in the form of taxes and road repairs.

The question remaining is which county will be first to tax its wells, knowing they may drive drillers away without receiving a nickel for local coffers?