Pa.’s Natural Gas Impact Tax a Winning National Model

Pennsylvanians support keeping natural gas tax revenues in local communities, according to a new Indiana University study. The researchers, who polled nearly 500 Pennsylvanians, found that the Commonwealth’s natural gas impact fee tax serves as an effective national model, concluding that other states should consider “adopting targeted reinvestment policies for energy development that are similar to Pennsylvania’s impact fee structure.”

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Key study findings:

  • Local control: Pennsylvanians have “greater trust that the revenues will be spent by their municipal government in ways that benefit the local economy” instead of on a county or statewide basis.
  • Voters prefer current tax structure: The study confirms Pennsylvanians prefer the current natural gas impact fee tax structure that benefits local and county governments rather than shifting revenues to the state’s general fund.

Commenting on the study’s findings, MSC’s Dave Spigelmyer told the Beaver County Times this week that this research makes clear that Pennsylvanians oppose proposals for even higher energy taxes that will strip local funding and cost more jobs:

We hear this every day, as local communities – not Harrisburg – are empowered to put these hundreds of millions in natural gas tax revenues to work as they see best fit. This research, along with the painful and ongoing market conditions, should make clear to policymakers that even higher energy taxes that strip local funding will hurt jobs, our economy and communities across the Commonwealth.

Likewise, in an editorial this week, the Williamsport Sun-Gazette writes that Gov. Wolf and others’ push for even higher energy taxes “is a greedy tax grab by state government” that “makes absolutely no sense,” especially “given that the industry already is paying more than its fair share and has never asked for any government support.”

Here’s what else we’re saying about clean-burning natural gas:

Shale Benefits Local Communities

  • “Gas Industry Provides Good Jobs, Lower Energy Prices”: Oil and natural gas development has occurred safely and benefited the citizens of Pa. for generations. … has been a leader in adopting industry-leading environmental practices and standards, becoming a model not only for the nation, but for the world. … Pa.’s manufacturers are re-emerging and competing again in the global marketplace, thanks to our homegrown natural gas. In fact, a recent IHS research firm study confirms natural gas’ role in re-energizing domestic manufacturing, as the report concludes that expanding natural gas access will create more than 347,000 good-paying American jobs — including 60,000 in manufacturing. … With the clear economic and environmental benefits of natural gas, it’s a false choice that we can either produce the energy we need to keep our economy strong or we can protect our environment. (Erie Times-News column, 5/20/16)
  • “Methane Emissions Continue to Fall”: Thanks to Pa.’s natural gas producers’ continued investments aimed at protecting and enhancing the environment, shale-related methane emissions continue to drop. In fact, according to Pa. DEP data, methane emissions have fallen 13 percent since 2012 and, according to EPA data, emissions specific to hydraulic fracturing have fallen 81 percent. (Times-Tribune letter, 5/20/16)
  • Gas Drilling Regulations Among Strongest in U.S.: Pa. has a modern regulatory framework. Former Gov. Ed Rendell and former state Environmental Protection Secretary John Hanger have made clear that “Pa. has the strongest enforcement program of any state with gas drilling. Period.”… Natural gas development is a well-regulated process that’s delivering considerable energy savings for families throughout the commonwealth while helping to dramatically improve our air quality. (Morning Call letter, 5/18/16)

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