Contentious as the issue is, drilling in the state's Marcellus Shale formation has been big money for York County — one of the counties that gets a share of impact fees regardless of the fact that it doesn't have a single natural gas drilling well.
The state's impact fee law allocates a share of the money to all counties, even those beyond the boundaries of the lucrative geological formation.
This marks the third year the pot of money paid by drillers is being divvied up, and York County will get its largest amount to date: $419,572.
That compares to $365,000 last year and $369,000 the first year. The amount of allocations is determined by factors beyond York's influence, such as the number of new wells being drilled in other parts of the state.
President York County Commissioner Steve Chronister said he has no qualms about using the money to improve York County even though the county doesn't have to deal with any of the infrastructure and environmental issues raised in areas where there's drilling.
"There's no guilt here," he said. "It just makes for a better community for everybody to live in."
How it's used: York County only budgeted for $350,000 from the fund this year, so the higher allocation means even more projects, Chronister said; he invited community groups to submit requests.
Under the law, Marcellus Shale Legacy Fund allocations must be used for recreation and open space projects.
In York, projects receiving funding to date include rail trail extensions in several municipalities and along the York County Heritage Rail Trail, agricultural and conservation land purchases, public parks in numerous municipalities, including a riverfront project along the Susquehanna River in Wrightsville, Steam Into History historic train attraction, Indian Steps Museum and the Revolutionary War prisoner of war camp called Camp Security.
"The money gives us surplus funds to help small boroughs that aren't rich with funds," he said. "It gives small groups an opportunity to do things they otherwise could not."
— Reach Christina Kauffman at firstname.lastname@example.org.