While many pro-tax groups are pushing for a natural gas severance fee—or impact fee though no one can quantify impact costs that drillers are not addressing—local residents often have different view.
Last Wednesday, farmers and other local residents testified to Gov. Corbett’s Marcellus Shale panel, providing overall support for the industry’s development.
According to Pennsylvania Independent, Jim VanBlarcom, a Bradford County dairy farmer, acknowledged the industry’s part in allowing him to double his dairy herd size thanks to the royalty money from leasing farmland.
VanBlarcom also described how companies took responsibility when accidents occurred; like when a trucker took out an electric poll shorting out his compressor and causing 3,000-gallons of milk to spoil. The trucking company paid him the market value of the lost milk, money to fix his compressor and labor costs.
Regarding road damages, VanBlarcom stated, “All of them have been rebuilt better than ever, and all it took was a phone call to the gas company…The next day they had trucks in there resurfacing the entire roadway.”
Jacqueline Root, a farmer in Tioga County stated that she would only support a local impact fee if it did not change the industry’s current role in infrastructure improvement and work in the region. Root commented, “I see the roads being repaired in a much more timely fashion with the companies taking care of it, and in ways that our townships can’t necessarily cope.”
Drilling companies are providing transportation funding far above what drilling communities receive from the state—putting $200 million into improving local roads last year.
Overall, residents with drilling in their hometowns are having positive experiences with the industry. And its impacts are being paid for under the state’s current laws and regulations—the responsible way to hold companies accountable.
While the drilling industry won’t disappear if a severance tax/fee is enacted, there will be an impact—through reduced investment in the state, lower wages, reduction in job growth or a reduction in spending on things like road improvements.