A Tax by Any Name Should Still Smell Defeat

State Senator Gene Yaw is pitching a new natural gas tax. The idea is to allow local communities to include the value of natural gas in property tax assessments, creating more revenue for the communities where drilling is being done—unlike last year’s failed severance tax that attempted to send the majority of the revenue to Harrisburg.

However, state law holds gas companies responsible for unintended consequences of the drilling process such as damages to local roads. Plus, local communities are now generating revenue from the growing economy (hotel taxes, real estate taxes, records fees, etc.). If this is not enough to offset local government’s cost, then officials should be working with gas companies to appropriately direct their charitable donations.

We shouldn’t be targeting this industry for a tax simply because state and local governments want more cash. We didn’t create new taxes targeted at the solar industry when it entered PA. In fact, we give away millions of tax dollars every year to convince renewable energy companies to come to Pennsylvania; meanwhile, the natural gas industry isn’t looking for any handouts.

There is no guarantee the natural gas industry will continue to invest in Pennsylvania; Consol Energy recently announced it is reducing drilling in the Keystone State.  Higher taxes haven’t brought prosperity to Pennsylvania in the past and certainly won’t now.