Pennsylvania

Energy. Environment. Economy.

Ahead of Wolf’s budget plan, Republicans discuss Marcellus tax bills

State Rep. Kate Harper (R- Montgomery) holds up a copy of the Philadelphia Inquirer with a story about the downturn in drilling.

Marie Cusick/ StateImpact Pennsylvania

State Rep. Kate Harper (R- Montgomery) holds up a copy of the Philadelphia Inquirer with a story about the downturn in drilling.

A day before Governor Tom Wolf is expected to unveil another attempt at taxing Marcellus Shale drillers, House Republicans were discussing their own proposals.

The House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee held an informational meeting Monday to look at two Republican-backed severance tax bills. Rep. John Maher (R- Allegheny) chairs the committee. He says he wants to make sure any new tax won’t hurt the state’s business climate.

“This industry that was once in a boom, is now in a bust,” he says. “And ultimately, we need to have a safe environment, but we need to be the best place for the drilling and production of natural gas.”

One of Wolf’s central campaign pledges in the race for governor involved enacting a Marcellus Shale tax, but he was unsuccessful in getting one last year during protracted budget negotiations with the legislature. He is expected to renew the effort in his second budget address Tuesday.

Rep. Kate Harper (R-Montgomery) has one measure that would levy a 3.5 percent tax on Marcellus drillers, while keeping the current gas well impact fee in place.

“I believe that any budget discussion at this time must include a discussion of the severance tax,” she says. “I believe most Pennsylvanians understand this, and are prepared for it, as are the energy companies.”

When asked whether her plan would make the state less competitive, Harper said it wouldn’t.

“One reason we’re not Texas is that we’re the Keystone state. We are located next to great markets” says Harper. “Up and down the East Coast and into New England, they need fuel for heating, and other things, and manufacturing.”

Rep. Greg Vitali (D- Delaware) serves as minority chair of the committee and thought the hearing was long overdue.

“Ironically, I remember Tom Wolf sitting at that very table, as Governor Rendell’s Revenue Secretary and my asking him about the tax,” he says. “It’s a sad commentary on the influence of money in politics in this commonwealth that we don’t have a severance tax.”

Comments

  • bill

    Perhaps Rep Harper could help get the pipelines built to actually get the gas “up and down the East Coast and New England”. Seems her constituents have a different view of that.

    • Kate Harper

      We have a transcontinental gas pipeline in my district and have had it for thirty years with no problems.

      • bill

        So Kate Harper supported the PennEast pipeline through Bucks Co? And Kate Harper didn’t vote to ban drilling in Bucks Co.?

      • BobSchmetzer

        More education needs to be added to the conversation. The whole fracking matter has many legs. Very dangerous to those in the sacrifice zones. All water flows downstream into some ones drinking source. Polluted air goes wherever the wind blows it. Bomb trains go through cities. Pipelines prevent land use. They can explode or vent deadly gas. A pig brush is run through the pipes to break loose all of the radio-active scale inside. It is vented into population areas. Etc. Compliance to the Pa Constitution is not being adhered to as sworn in the public oath of office.

  • Cobbtown

    The boom and bust nature of the natural gas industry is not good for the long term business climate of Pennsylvania, but our legislators seem to keep forgetting that.

  • kenneth weir

    Bill, I thought you took your comedic commentary to the improve?

    • bill

      It’s Improv, not improve. BTW: I’m still waiting for specifics on your friend’s water contamination.

  • BobSchmetzer

    Pennsylvania should NOT base its tax dollars on the oil & Gas industry. What is happening to the industry will happen to the state. Renewable energy will sell to the electric grid. No pollution to make people sick and die early deaths. Act 13 is a unlucky Law bought by the O & G industry. It was enacted on St. Valentines Day. It was the massacre of Pennsylvania. Gag orders for your Doctor . Spilling and polluting of toxic chemicals and radio-active isotopes are now everywhere in Pa. The people responsible have to be prosecuted . Fines and no jail time never worked. The fines were added to the bill sent to the customers. This is not a good idea.

    • bill

      Don’t forget the weapons grade uranium that contaminated wells in Dimock.

  • crystalpoint

    marketAs I have said over,and over again, if you place a severance tax on Natural Gas, the Gas producers will pass the increase onto the consumer!

    In response to Rep. Kate Harper comment i.e. “One reason we’re not Texas is that we’re the Keystone state. We are
    located next to great markets” says Harper. “Up and down the East Coast
    and into New England, they need fuel for heating, and other things, and
    manufacturing” Yes, we do have abundant sources of natural Gas but, environmentalist’s and the Governor and Legislators in the Commonwealth of Pa. All have stood in the way of pipelines to transport the commodity to the above market locations!

    In a nut shell, at a time when the price of Natural Gas is at an all time low, it is not the time to place added costs onto the Gas Industry! Don’t all of you legislators and the Governor get the message, i.e., the Gas industry is hurting right now, and with your future actions, of placing additional taxes on the product, you could discourage further development in this field, and further, chase them away!

    Sincerely, Ray P. Smith, Sr.

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