FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
State Rep. Mike Hanna
Hanna blasts secretly crafted Marcellus sham
HARRISBURG, Feb. 8 – State Rep. Mike Hanna offered the following statement regarding Wednesday's House passage of Marcellus Shale legislation.
"This bill is a sham. It’s nothing more than a sweetheart deal for the multi-billion-dollar oil and gas industry. It swindles Pennsylvania’s taxpayers and fails to make huge out-of-state corporations pay their fair share.
"At a ridiculous almost 1 percent effective tax rate, this fee would be among the lowest of any natural gas-producing state in the nation. Under this unreasonable fee, huge oil and gas companies will pay less than half the 3.07 percent that working Pennsylvanians pay in their state Personal Income Tax. That is unacceptable.
"This legislation privatizes the profits from the Marcellus Shale for the big oil and gas industry and socializes the costs of environmental cleanup on the backs of the hardworking Pennsylvanians living in the Marcellus Shale region.
"Regrettably, this bill will not protect our water, our air and our land from the dangers posed by drilling activities in the Marcellus Shale. This bill includes environmental buffers and setbacks that are completely inadequate and do not ensure that public water supplies are protected from potential pollution and contamination. The setbacks in this bill do not protect intermittent and ephemeral streams. In fact, this bill clearly states gas companies shall be given variances and waivers from setbacks providing loopholes to avoid these environmental safeguards.
"This bill imposes pathetically weak penalties for drilling companies that violate the token environmental protections provided in the bill. Under this bill, a general violation will be raised from $300 to a shamefully low $1,000. What is even worse; willful violations will remain unchanged at $5,000. This is nothing more than a slap on the wrist. We cannot accept this when in the past four years we have seen on average more than two violations per day by Marcellus drillers.
"This bill falls short on local zoning. Industrial operations like natural gas compressor stations will be nothing more than a nuisance to residential areas. Imagine a compressor station a mere 750 feet from your home that runs 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for 60 years. That’s what this bill does.
"This scheme puts a higher priority on increasing profits for multi-national corporations than on protecting the long-term security of Pennsylvanians. We must hold the health and safety of our residents above corporate profits.
"More than a century ago, the coal and timber industries nearly destroyed our state’s environment and left the taxpayers holding the bill for environmental restoration and cleanup. But that’s exactly what we’ll be doing if we pass this bill. We must learn from past mistakes, not repeat them.
"Former DCNR Secretary John Quigley has repeatedly stated that our remaining state forestlands are of a 'pristine' value and should not be compromised. Nevertheless, this bill compromises our pristine state forestlands by encouraging further leasing for drilling, rather than protecting the remaining environmentally sensitive lands.
"Finally, the Corbett administration hatched this anti-taxpayer scheme in secret meetings behind closed doors and without public input. This sham is the product of a shameful return to the dark days of Pennsylvania politics – with backroom dealing and no transparency or public accountability.
"There is no greater issue facing the people of Pennsylvania than the responsible oversight of the booming natural gas drilling industry in the Marcellus Shale region. We should pass a real, fair and reasonable severance tax on the oil and gas drillers in the Marcellus Shale. The people of Pennsylvania deserve more than half-measures crafted under the cover of darkness."