Public Overwhelmingly Supports Marcellus Shale Natural Gas Production Tax
A new poll this week found the public overwhelmingly supported a Marcellus Shale natural gas production severance tax, regardless of which area of the state they come from.
75 percent of those in the Philadelphia and Pittsburgh regions supported the severance tax, while 84 percent supported the proposal in other parts of the state. Click here for complete poll results.
Unfortunately, Gov. Rendell has never proposed a severance tax to fund environmental programs like Growing Greener environmental restoration program that is now all but out of money.
Growing Greener is disappearing at a time when over 19,000 miles of rivers and streams in Pennsylvania do not meet federal Clean Water Act standards and the Commonwealth is mandated to significantly reduce nutrient and sediment pollution in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed covering two-thirds of the state.
"The Marcellus Shale gas industry is just getting started in Pennsylvania, so we have the opportunity now to ensure that adequate resources are available for local and state government to meeting growing demand for services and protect the environment," Gov. Rendell said. "To accomplish these goals, the gas companies profiting from this rapidly growing industry should be willing to pay a fair share levy."
"I share the view of the eight out of 10 Pennsylvanians who, in a recent poll, said that they favor a tax on gas companies to fund programs that will protect our environment and help local governments handled increased demand on their services," Gov. Rendell said.
Pennsylvania is the only major energy-producing state that does not levy a tax on natural gas extraction.
"To some extent, the drilling industry has helped Tioga County weather the recession better than most," the Governor said, noting that the county unemployment rate dropped more than one percent to 9.1 percent in the past year. "That's still too high, but it is headed in the right direction and is now below the statewide average.
"But these jobs and economic activity are definitely coming with a cost. Heavy truck traffic is putting pressure on local roads and bridges, leading to weight restrictions being imposed on three bridges in the past four months."
Of the 1,722 miles of roads covered by bonds posted by Marcellus Shale drillers statewide, 1,067 have been damaged. More than 500 miles of roads in PennDOT's District 3, which includes Tioga and Bradford counties, have been damaged by drilling vehicles.
Earlier this year, Gov. Rendell proposed implementing a severance tax on natural gas extraction that would be modeled after West Virginia's levy — straight 5-percent on sales, plus an additional 4.7 cents for each thousand cubic feet of gas produced.
As part of the state budget deal reached in July, the General Assembly agreed to enact a severance tax by October 1.
"Pennsylvania is the 15th largest natural gas production state, but is the only major fossil fuel producer that does not levy a tax on natural gas extraction," Gov. Rendell told a crowd in Tioga County. "That's just not fair. With your help, we are going to change that."
To date this year, 1,765 natural gas wells have been drilled in Pennsylvania. Of that total, 848 have been drilled to access gas deposits in the Marcellus Shale, with 171 of those wells being drilled in Tioga County.
The Department of Environmental Protection has also issued nearly 4,195 drilling permits this year, of which 1,915 were for Marcellus development. The department is on track to issue approximately 2,700 Marcellus permits this year — a 36 percent increase over permits issued in 2009.
NewsClips: Onorato, Corbett Differ On Marcellus Shale
Onorato Not Optimistic On Natural Gas Severance Tax
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