PennFuture Will Say Anything to Get a Gas Tax

Here’s a letter to the editor I submitted in response to inflammatory claims made by PennFuture’s Jan Jarret and AFL-CIO’s Richard Bloomingdale about a severance tax:

A recent editorial titled, “A tax on gas drilling should be an easy call,” tries to drum up support for a severance tax by misleading readers.

The statistic that nearly 80% of voters support a severance tax came from a misleading poll financed by Gov. Rendell’s campaign. The question claimed the “specific purpose” of the tax was to help local governments impacted by drilling—this is a false premise, as the House proposal would send less than 6% of next year’s revenue to local governments, with the majority going to the General Fund.

A Penn State survey showed that support for drilling is highest in places where drilling is actually occurring. That’s because the industry has revitalized economically struggling regions. In addition to creating jobs and paying royalties to landowners, drilling companies pay for road maintenance and repair. 

Growing Greener, a $625 million debt obligation for taxpayers that won’t be paid back until 2029, isn’t related at all to gas drilling, but is a slush fund for “green” pork projects.  Natural gas companies should not be required to sustain programs unrelated to the industry.

The Senate is right to reject the House severance tax bill, which is too high, allocates the revenue inappropriately, and is probably unconstitutional. If a natural gas tax is enacted, 100% of the funds should go directly to the impacts of drilling, not to special interest projects.