Energy and Environment Reporting for Texas

Lawmaker Targets Natural Gas Drilling Exemption

Photo courtesy of Rep. Burnam

State Rep. Lon Burnam is going after a tax exemption for natural gas drillers.

Texas Lawmakers have already filed more than 400 bills for the upcoming legislative session. Only a fraction of those will end up making it to a vote.  But before the session begins, we thought it might be worthwhile to take a look at some environment and energy proposals.

Lon Burnam is state representative from Fort Worth, a Democrat. His House Bill 55 would end a tax exemption that benefits natural gas drillers in the state. The exemption was put in place to spur the gas industry in the late 80s, when many thought Texas had developed all of its gas resources. Critics like Burnam say now that the state has entered a new gas boom thanks to horizontal drilling and hydro-fracking, there’s no more need for it. He estimates closing the exemption would bring in an extra $1 billion a year in revenue for the state.

“This is a huge tax loophole at the expense of the rest of the people in Texas,” Rep. Burnam says. “Because they don’t need and economic incentive for this exemption.”

But closing it will probably be a hard sell. Many other lawmakers credit Texas relative economic prosperity to the oil and gas boom that the exemption has helped foster.  Burnam filed a similar bill last legislative session without success.


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