New Bill Would Fund High Hazard Dam Reconstruction From Oil And Gas Fund
Rep. Jaret Gibbons (D-Beaver) has introduced House Bill 2307 which would use revenue from oil and gas operations on state-owned land to fund the reconstruction of Fish and Boat Commission high hazard dams, such as the Hereford Manor Lakes in Franklin Township, Beaver County.
“Marcellus Shale drilling on state-owned land is generating millions of dollars for the state and creates a rare opportunity to repair and rebuild high risk dams, like Hereford Manor,” Rep. Gibbons said. “The extraction of our natural resources is generating the revenue and directing a small portion to address the critical needs of these dams is a wise and appropriate investment.”
Rep. Gibbons’ bill would annually transfer 5 percent of the revenue the state receives from leases and royalties from the Oil and Gas Lease Fund to the Fish and Boat Commission for the specific purpose of repairing and rebuilding high hazard dams owned by the commission. The maximum annual transfer would be $6 million.
“The Hereford Manor Lakes are important to our region’s economy and quality of life,” Gibbons said. “Lakes like Hereford Manor offer boating, fishing and hiking opportunities and boost local economies.”
A legislative hearing Rep. Gibbons hosted found that more than 120,000 licensed anglers live within 30 miles of the Hereford Manor Lakes and the average angler spends more than $600 annually on fishing.
“The Fish and Boat Commission has expressed interest in rebuilding the Hereford Manor Lakes, but it lacks the funding. This legislation would help address the funding needs at no additional cost to taxpayers,” he said.
The Oil and Gas Lease Fund has an estimated balance of $45 million. If Gibbons’ bill is enacted, more than $2 million would be available to repair the PFBC’s seven high hazard dams. Gas royalties are volatile, but the funds balance could rise significantly as Marcellus Shale exploration continues to expand.
The General Assembly created the Oil and Gas Lease Fund in 1955 to invest revenue from the sale of oil and gas resources owned by the state into conservation, recreation, dams and flood control.
“Rebuilding these dams is a wise use of these funds and consistent with the original purpose of the Oil and Gas Lease Fund,” Gibbons said.
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