MSC in Delco Times: Pa. natural gas fees already helping state

To the Times:

Pennsylvania’s current tax on natural gas generates hundreds of millions of dollars annually for key infrastructure improvements, but it is a tax that Governor Wolf ignores in a March 17 column (“Tom Wolf has a vision to Restore Pennsylvania”).

The natural gas impact fee – or tax – is on track to collect another $247 million for 2018 and has generated nearly $1.7 billion since the tax was passed in 2012, adding new revenue that directly benefits communities in all 67 Pennsylvania counties.

This existing annual impact tax revenue, when combined with other business taxes paid by the industry, as well as lease bonuses and royalties tied to natural gas development on state land, has provided nearly $5 billion in revenue since unconventional shale gas development began.

Importantly the impact tax is structured to empower local leaders – rather than politicians in Harrisburg – with the ability to determine projects to fund, like flood mitigation, road and bridge improvement, park and trail upgrades, or first responder services.

Although Delaware County isn’t home to active unconventional natural gas wells, it’s still benefiting from impact fee revenue. Local leaders have invested this revenue toward several critical community projects, such as the Reservoir Park Stream Restoration, Springfield Township Stormwater Facilities Improvement, and the planning and construction of Upper Darby Recreational Trail. These are just a few critical infrastructure projects all made possible from the collections received from the current shale industry tax that was passed seven years ago.

Pennsylvania’s energy industry is committed to moving our state forward, and we share Governor Wolf’s goal of improving the Commonwealth’s infrastructure. The structure of the impact tax passed in 2012 is doing just that, investing in infrastructure. Unfortunately, however, adding a massive energy tax on top of the current tax is not the answer.

We will continue to work with leaders in Harrisburg on solutions to drive continued economic growth, environmental progress and a brighter future for the entire Commonwealth.

David Spigelmyer, Marcellus Shale Coalition, Pittsburgh

Click here to view this letter online.