Wheatley leads effort for gas drillers to help close budget hole

HARRISBURG, Oct. 18 – State Rep. Jake Wheatley, D-Allegheny, and members of the House Finance Committee today approved seeking a higher tax on the companies extracting record volumes of natural gas from shale formations deep under Pennsylvania.

“Pennsylvania is facing a serious budget crisis and this is one sensible step toward fixing it. We need to start collecting this recurring revenue from companies that can easily afford to pay it,” Wheatley said.

Currently, Pennsylvania is the second-largest producer of natural gas in the country, but is the only major gas-producing state that does not impose a drilling tax.

The bill (H.B. 1401) would impose a severance tax on natural gas extraction based on a well's production volume and the average annual price of natural gas. Drillers would be prohibited from passing the tax onto landowners.

Wheatley said the measure could be considered by the full House as early as next week, if Republican leaders permit it to happen.

“We’ve already wasted too much precious time arguing about a sensible tax that every other natural gas state already uses,” Wheatley said. “We’ve forfeited millions of dollars in untapped revenue that should have been used to pay for schools, health care and many other things the state is obligated to provide.

“I and most members of the House believe we should activate this new revenue stream and make the gas drillers carry their share of the load, rather than continuing to push those costs onto local homeowners and taxpayers.”