FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
State Rep. Greg Vitali
Feb. 23 hearing in Upper Merion on Marcellus drilling tax bill
HARRISBURG, Feb. 10 – State Rep. Greg Vitali announced he and state Rep. Tim Briggs, D-Montgomery, will host a House Democratic Policy Committee hearing 10 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 23 at Upper Merion Township Building on his legislation, H.B. 33, which would tax Marcellus Shale natural gas drilling.
"The state is facing a budget deficit of $4 billion, and the Growing Greener program, which is used to clean rivers and streams and preserve open spaces, is quickly running out of money," said Vitali, D-Delaware. "This tax won't completely solve those problems. But it will help and it will require big gas companies reaping profits from the Commonwealth's resources to pay their fair share."
Scheduled to testify are:
· Sharon Ward, executive director, and Michael Wood, researcher, from the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center.
· Andrew Heath, executive director of the Renew Growing Greener Coalition.
· Olivia Thorne, president of the Pennsylvania League of Women Voters.
· John Arway, executive director of the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission.
· Oliver Bass, vice president of Natural Lands Trust.
· A representative from the drilling industry.
· A representative from a local government association.
The rate of the tax under H.B. 33 would be slightly less than that imposed by West Virginia. It would generate an estimated $245 million for fiscal year 2011-12 this year, and that number would grow to nearly $570 million by 2015.
"Pennsylvania is the only major natural gas producing state that does not have a drilling tax or fee," Vitali said. "We are missing a chance to generate new revenue Pennsylvania needs during these difficult economic times."
Vitali added a recent poll shows 63 percent of Pennsylvanians support a drilling tax.
The public is encouraged to attend, but only members of the committee are permitted to comment and ask questions of those testifying. The public may submit written comments.