PA Strippers Back in News, Supremes to Hear Synder Bros Case

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court said last week it will accept a case about strippers–stripper wells, that is. In brief, in 2012 Pennsylvania passed the Act 13 drilling law that includes a fee on wells targeting shale layers, including the Marcellus. Snyder Brothers, headquartered in Kittanning, PA, drills mostly conventional (vertical only) wells in southwestern PA. In 2011-2012 they drilled 45 vertical-only wells, but targeting the Marcellus, all of the wells fracked. Initially those wells produced more than 90 Mcf/day, but by December of the year they were drilled, they produced less than 90 Mcf/day. The way the 2012 Act 13 law is written, if a well produces less than 90 Mcf/day during “any” month it is considered a stripper well and exempt from paying the impact fee. The state’s Public Utility Commission (PUC) assessed the fee anyway because for 11 months the wells produced more than 90 Mcf/day. Snyder Bros. sued and after an appeal of the case, Snyder Bros. won their case in March, exempting those wells from paying impact fees (see PA Court Says Snyder Bros Wells are Strippers, No Impact Fees Due). That sent the state Public Utility Commission (PUC) into a tizzy with claims the Act 13 impact fees are now in jeopardy. The PUC is not letting it alone. They conscripted a sympathetic ally in the PA legislature to introduce a bill to “fix” the “loophole” (see PA Lib Dem Introducing Bill to “Fix” Strippers Once and for All). At the same time the PUC kept pushing on the legal front, and last week the PA Supremes agreed to hear an appeal of the case. Looks like those strippers just won’t go away…

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