The Pennsylvania Supreme Court on Friday, December 28, rejected the legal position of PIOGA and its producer member Snyder Brothers, Inc. that the word “any” in the Act 13 impact fee stripper well definition (“during any calendar month”) is unambiguous in this context and means “one,” which meant that Snyder Brothers’ unconventional vertical wells that did not produce an average of more than 90,000 cubic feet of natural gas per day during only one calendar month were stripper wells exempt from the impact fee for that calendar year.

In response to the Court’s decision, PIOGA General Counsel Kevin Moody stated, “We are extremely disappointed that the majority ignored the unrebutted evidence of the PUC’s consistent interpretation of the word ‘any’ to mean ‘one’ and instead agreed with the PUC that the meaning of the word in this context is ambiguous. This disappointment extends to the majority’s ignoring other unrebutted evidence that the PUC reversed many of its initial impact fee interpretations in finding that the PUC’s interpretation at issue in this appeal is entitled to deference. The majority also ignored legislative debate showing that the General Assembly intended to exempt stripper wells from the fee even though these wells had impacts intended to be mitigated by the fee. Finally, while the majority found ‘nothing about the peculiarities’ of the stripper well definition’s ‘incapability’ requirement that affected its interpretation of the word ‘any,’ the majority nonetheless relied upon the notion that producers might ‘manipulate’ production to avoid the fee to support its interpretation – even though that notion implicates the ‘incapability’ requirement.”

PIOGA is evaluating asking the Court to reconsider its decision.

For more, see the January 2019 issue of The PIOGA Press.