FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
State Rep. Thaddeus Kirkland
Kirkland says Marcellus Shale trouble goes deeper than the drills
HARRISBURG, Feb. 16 – State Rep. Thaddeus Kirkland, D-Delaware, today said Gov. Tom Corbett’s signing into law of the Marcellus Sale impact tax is a red flag that municipal governments and Pennsylvanians in general should take as a warning.
Kirkland said that the first thing that jumps out is the exclusionary aspect of the legislation. The law restricts revenues collected from the gas companies to going almost entirely to counties and municipalities that host a gas well site or are in close proximity.
“The Pennsylvania Constitution states that our natural resources are ‘the common property of all the people.’ Where is the compensation for the people of Delaware County for the taking of the property they share in common,” Kirkland said. “Granted, the host communities deserve extra compensation for the impact the drilling will have on their roads, bridges and services, but the harvesting of the gas is supposed to have some benefit for all Pennsylvanians.”
He noted that the sharing aspect is not helped by the only 1 percent level of the tax, the lowest of all the Marcellus Shale states. Most other states impose a fee in the area of 5 percent. Even gas and oil-rich Texas taxes Marcellus Shale gas extraction at 7.5 percent.
“The argument that anything over a 1 percent to 2 percent tax would cause Pennsylvania to lose out on new wells is completely disingenuous,” insisted Kirkland. “Research has shown that decisions to drill are based on a 5 percent severance tax. At a little over 1 percent, Pennsylvania’s a black Friday sale.”
Kirkland said the commonwealth’s bargain basement rate is a lost opportunity to fund long-overdue road and bridge maintenance and pother priorities.
“We have students in my district at Chester-Upland schools that have class sizes of 40 and who have no instruction in music or art. Distressed school districts elsewhere are nearly as bad off, but the governor and Republican leaders believe it is a higher priority to send more money to their friends in the energy business,” charged Kirkland.
But Kirkland said the most ominous aspect is that the Marcellus Shale plan restricts the ability of local municipalities and their residents to apply local zoning codes to well and pumping facilities.
“The crowd howling about the federal government’s authority over the states are usurping the rights of local government and citizens and forcing them to kiss the feet of the energy companies,” Kirkland asserted. “So much for their pledges of open government and restoring self-determination to individuals.
“The tea party is over in Pennsylvania.”