FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
State Rep. Sid Michaels Kavulich
Kavulich: Severance tax, impact fee – whatever it's called, Pa. needs it now
HARRISBURG, Feb. 8 – State Rep. Sid Michaels Kavulich, D-Lackawanna/Luzerne/Susquehanna/Wyoming, is supporting a bill that would impose a natural gas severance tax on drilling companies in Pennsylvania.
"Whether you call it a tax, or as some prefer to call it, a 'fee,' such a charge would ensure we have a revenue source to address damage to our roads and environment caused by drilling, and strains on local economies dealing with an influx of people moving into their communities for drilling jobs," Kavulich said. "But the revenue generated could also help alleviate some of the devastating state budget cuts that are expected to be proposed by Governor Corbett."
House Bill 33, which is sponsored by state Rep. Greg Vitali, D-Delaware, would impose a severance tax slightly lower than that imposed by West Virginia. The tax would generate an estimated $245 million this year and as much as $570 million by 2015. The revenue would be shared equally by the General Fund, local governments and environmental uses.
Kavulich recalls the coal boom that caused destruction of land that taxpayers now have to pay to clean up and doesn't want to see such a scenario repeated again.
"I know drilling promises jobs, and we certainly don't want to hamper our economic growth. But we learned hard lessons with coal extraction that we cannot repeat with natural gas exploration," Kavulich said. "My neighborhood in Taylor was wiped out because of the aftereffects of extracting coal. We have to take our time to make sure we don't make the same mistakes with natural gas and that we have a revenue stream – such as a severance tax – to pay for any damage drilling may cause."