Marcellus Shale advocates speak out against severance tax

April 22, 2014

Advocates of the Marcellus Shale gas industry Tuesday warned of the consequences of a new severance tax on the industry that is being debated on both sides of the aisle in Harrisburg.

The Marcellus supporters, including the Pennsylvania Independent Oil & Gas Association leader, reiterated the benefits of the drilling boom and threatened the industry would slow down in the state and pass any extra costs on to consumers if such a tax becomes reality.

PIOGA President and Executive Director Lou D’Amico said politicians are debating something that would be “unfair taxation” because it would not be imposed on any other extraction industries in the state.

“The government regulations would be passed down the chain and increase the cost to consumers,” added Gene Barr, president of the state Chamber of Business and Industry.

Stephanie Catarino Wissman, executive director of Associated Petroleum Industries of Pennsylvania, said the severance tax was returned to the table as lawmakers look for ways to close holes in the state budget.

A new Marcellus tax has become a political issue in the Pennsylvania governor’s race this year, and the mere mention of it has scared investors, the advocates said Tuesday during a telephone news conference.

This tax is directed at an industry that has resulted in “some manufacturing surges,” and the affordable energy source has persuaded some businesses to stay in Pennsylvania “because we have this resource,” Barr said.

Since 2012, the industry has paid $630 million in local impact fees. Since 2007, it has paid $2.1 billion in state taxes, Wissman said.

She also said the average gas employee makes $35,000 more a year than the average worker in the state.

The numbers are projected to increase “if the right policies are in place,” she said.

Scott Beveridge is a North Charleroi native who has lived most of his life in nearby Rostraver Township. He is a general assignments reporter focusing on investigative journalism and writing stories about the mid-Mon Valley. He has a bachelor's degree from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and a master's from Duquesne University. Scott spent three weeks in Vietnam in 2004 as a foreign correspondent under an International Center for Journalists fellowship.

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