Empty promise: A state gas tax

Date: February 28, 2011

PENNSYLVANIA SO far missed out on an estimated $121 million in revenue from theMarcellus Shale natural gas industry, and the tally spurts higher with each day that drillers siphon the resource from below our forests and farms.

How much more money will we lose? 250 million? A billion?

How much can we afford to lose?

A recent survey suggests that most state residents favor a so-called severance tax on natural gas drillers, a levy that is common in major gas-producing states. And those states don\’t offer the geographical advantage of Pennsylvania, which is close to the lucrative East Coast cities where natural gas is piped, saving gas producers big bucks in transportation costs.

The state Legislature last year promised as part of its belated budget deal to enact a severance tax by October. It broke that promise.

Results of the survey conducted after Christmas by Susquehanna Polling & Research show widespread support for a gas tax from people in most parts of Pennsylvania – except in Gov.-elect Tom Corbett\’s house. Corbett, whose campaign tallied more than $1 million in gas industry contributions, steadfastly parrots the industry spin, suggesting a tax would be a drag on the industry\’s growth and stymie job gains.

His contention is unlikely; these are not mom-and-pop drilling outfits. Unless you consider Exxon Mobil Corp (whose stock ticker symbol is XOM) a mom or a pop.

Debated for much of 2010, the gas tax is no longer solely a political issue. As the range and number of new wells grows, it is a matter of public safety for people who live – and will continue to live – in drilling territory. It also is becoming a financial imperative for this cash-strapped state.

The tax should be collected from drilling companies to pay for possible short- and long-term environmental damages and to compensate communities such as those in Wyoming County where the industry\’s impacts are seen and felt.

A majority of Republican respondents to the recent survey conducted for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review newspaper say they favor the tax. If you do, too, express your thoughts to state Sen. Lisa Baker, R-Lehman Township, state Sen. John Yudichak, D-Nanticoke, or Shavertown resident Dan Meuser, Corbett\’s newly appointed secretary of the Department of Revenue.

Someone needs to get Corbett\’s ear and to convince him to change his foolhardy, holdout stance on the gas tax.

Copyright: Times Leader

Joe Price
Attorney Joe Price is a seasoned Trial Lawyer serving Northeast, Central and Southeast Pennsylvania for the past forty (40) years. He has handled serious personal injury cases in courts throughout the Federal system including New Jersey and New York. Attorney Price is A.V. Rated by Martindale Hubble. He is Board Certified in Civil Practice by the National Board of Trial Advocacy since 1996.