'Public Support For A Drilling Tax'
Speakers at a recent press conference said there is strong public support for a drilling tax that protects the environment and invests in Pennsylvania’s future including education.
As momentum builds for enacting a natural gas drilling tax in Pennsylvania, advocates for school children, the environment and struggling families joined state lawmakers today to call for drillers to pay their fair share.
At a Capitol press conference, speakers said there is strong public support for a drilling tax that protects the environment and invests in Pennsylvania’s future, including the education of our next generation.
“Multi-national gas companies like Exxon Mobil, Andarko, and Shell are reaping billions in Pennsylvania, and we can’t pay for math tutors in our schools,” said Yesenia Rosado, programs and policy coordinator for Education Voters PA. “This is no way to raise the next generation of engineers and scientists right here in Pennsylvania.”
After the press conference, several volunteers with the Better Choices for Pennsylvania Coalition delivered to state lawmakers a letter with nearly 700 signatures in support of enacting a responsible drilling tax or fee that “is commensurate with the scale of this burgeoning industry in Pennsylvania and that supports the investments the state needs for a prosperous future.”
At the press conference, lawmakers from both parties spoke in favor of enacting a responsible drilling tax that benefits all Pennsylvanians.
Republican Representatives Gene DiGirolamo and Tom Murt discussed their legislation to enact a drilling tax that would support shared statewide priorities like education and human services, as well as local impacts and environmental protection.
“When I joined Rep DiGirolamo to offer this legislation, a tax on natural gas, I was motivated not only by a desire to make sure our gas drillers pay their fair share but to make sure this thriving industry contributes to making Pennsylvania a better place,” Representative Murt said.
“Almost every other state that is taking Marcellus Shale gas out of the ground does already have some type of tax,” said Representative DiGirolamo. “We in Pennsylvania do not as of yet. … We’re trying to figure out what’s best for Pennsylvania.”
Democratic Representative Mike Sturla said the Murt-DiGirolamo bill “makes sense for all Pennsylvanians.” Limited drilling impact fee proposals, touted by the Governor and some lawmakers, “fails to recognize that water flows beyond municipal boundaries where drilling occurs and that air blows beyond municipal boundaries where drilling occurs,” Representative Sturla said.
At the press conference, Jan Jarrett, the President and CEO of PennFuture, outlined the strong public support for enacting a drilling tax like many other energy-producing states have.
“Poll after poll shows that people want a drilling tax that protects our environment and builds a stronger economy in communities across the Commonwealth,” Jarrett said. “Most states with a natural gas industry use drilling revenues to make these kinds of investments — Pennsylvania should not be an outlier.”
The Murt-DiGirolamo plan received support from families of people with intellectual disabilities, like Mary Saunders of Bradford County. She noted that their bill would help reduce the lengthy waiting list for such services by providing more resources.
This will allow people to get the help they need to live independently and contribute to their communities.
“Without it, families will fall apart under the strains of care giving,” Saunders said. “Families are forced to quit jobs and stay home to care for their loved ones 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”
Kim Patterson, Secretary-Treasurer of SEIU Healthcare PA, agreed that the Legislature needs to take action to enact a responsible drilling tax.
“Across the state our members — nurses and nursing home workers and other healthcare workers — have been taking action to educate our communities and tell the big gas companies and the state legislature that we need a real drilling tax in Pennsylvania, just like every other major gas drilling state,” she said.
“It’s time that Harrisburg listened to what people across the state are saying: 'Stop the free ride for gas companies!'”
Better Choices for Pennsylvania is a coalition of more than 30 groups statewide that support a responsible and balanced approach to the state budget. Learn more at http://betterchoicesforpa.com.