MSC in York Dispatch: Tax on Drillers Would Jeopardize Jobs

A Feb. 14 editorial endorsing Gov. Tom Wolf’s proposal for higher taxes on natural gas production fundamentally fails to recognize the basic economic realities associated with capital investment and continued job growth. Despite the paper’s claims, higher energy taxes would squander a tremendous opportunity and jeopardize the small business and union jobs, as well as the broad-based consumer, manufacturing and air quality benefits tied to shale.

A recent North America’s Building Trades Unions study found that shale development has created more than 45,000 jobs in our region’s construction industry. Recognizing the need for policies that encourage growth, the labor organization’s president, Sean McGarvey, encouraged lawmakers to “make sure they don’t kill (the shale) industry before it has the chance to make the largest impact in Pennsylvania and across the country,” adding, “I wouldn’t want to be on the wrong side of history.”

Further, the paper fails to acknowledge that the natural gas industry already pays significant taxes. In fact, the natural gas industry’s investments have helped generate more than $2.1 billion through 2013. And Pennsylvania is also the only state to levy a special shale impact tax, which will generate nearly $830 million by April. Just last year, natural gas impact tax revenues went directly to improve four bridges in North Hopewell Township and recreational park improvements in Windsor, as well as many other community improvement projects in York County.

And while the paper believes that cutting off this important local funding stream is “fine,” local government officials, including the Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors, are “very concerned about the loss of these local impact fee revenues, which are invaluable to our townships and their taxpayers.”

Labor leaders, small businesses, as well as local and county government share our deep concerns about the negative effects — especially as it relates to job growth and community investments from shale impact tax revenues — that even higher energy taxes will have on the commonwealth’s economy. Pennsylvanians are looking to their elected officials to help create new jobs, not higher energy taxes.

The residents of York County know best how to spend the revenue generated by the impact tax in their community, not Harrisburg. It would be unfortunate to see that go away.

Erica Clayton Wright
Marcellus Shale Coalition
Pittsburgh, Pa.

NOTE: Click HERE to view this letter online.