2019-02-09 / Viewpoints

Don’t penalize shale gas drillers

By Mike Butler

(Mike Butler is Mid-Atlantic executive director of the Consumer Energy Alliance, an advocacy group for the gas and oil industry.)

Pennsylvania lawmakers should hail the continued development of our state’s energy sector. Instead, some keep talking about imposing a job- and growth-killing severance tax on natural gas production.

It might sound like a simple and effective solution to Pennsylvania’s budget challenges, but there’s another side of the story that many have not been hearing.

Because of efforts from certain lawmakers to make production harder and more expensive to undertake and ship, the state continues to lack the pipeline capacity it needs to deliver the energy we produce safely and affordably.

Pennsylvania’s energy industry has generated thousands of jobs with family-sustaining wages and billions in tax revenue. This money goes to bettering schools, roads and vital public services, including emergency personnel.

The use of our state’s bountiful natural gas also carries an environmental benefit, since it is cleaner-burning than coal.

Any suggestion that the shale gas industry is under-taxed is false. According to the Pennsylvania Independent Fiscal Office, shale gas drillers paid just under $219.4 million in “impact fees” in 2017.

That is a $46 million increase from 2016. Overall, they’ve paid $1.5 billion in impact fees since 2011 – more than the severance taxes of Ohio, West Virginia, Arkansas and Colorado combined.

Increased taxes would be passed down to households, manufacturers and petrochemical companies via price increases. This would make those businesses less competitive in an increasingly cost-sensitive global market and hinder their ability to expand jobs.

Following news that national demand for natural gas hit an all-time high at the start of 2018, lawmakers should ignore the misguided cries to needlessly increase costs on families and businesses.

They should instead expand opportunities for energy development and address ways to transport it efficiently to households on tight budgets, farmers harvesting crops, and factories that employ our friends and neighbors.

What is ‘My Side?’

Endeavor News believes the free exchange of ideas benefits the community.

My Side is a column for you, the reader. People with information to share, strong opinions on public issues or tales to tell are encouraged to submit essays.

Endeavor News reserves the right to edit submissions for grammatical errors, misspellings, poor taste, vituperative or actionable material.

Electronic submissions are preferred, sent to news@zitomedia.net.

Return to top