Workers would benefit from an extraction tax

May 13, 2014

Gordon Tomb, a senior fellow for the Commonwealth Foundation felt the need to skew some of the facts in his May 7 op-ed on a Marcellus Shale extraction tax.

Without argument, the development of the Marcellus Shale has been a major contributor to the economic health of Pennsylvania. But many of Tomb’s claims are distorted to say the least. Yes, the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, the CLEAR Coalition, the Pennsylvania State Education Association, the Pennsylvania Social Services Union, SEIU-Healthcare Pennsylvania, the state’s AFL-CIO and the United Food and Commercial Workers all support a reasonable extraction tax from the multinational companies now enjoying record profits from the Marcellus Shale development.

But Tomb’s claim that we support an extraction tax at the expense of private union workers could not be further from the truth. Public sector union members issue the permits to the corporations drilling in the Marcellus Shale region. The Department of Environmental Protection employs public-sector workers overseeing the safe operation of those drill sites. Public sector workers push the snow plows on the roads that all workers, union or nonunion, travel to those drill sites.

Perhaps Tomb could ask those citizens in Greene County how they would have managed had no emergency responders, who are public-sector workers, responded to the gas well explosion that unfortunately claimed one life and injured others in Dunkard Township in February?

The burden of school taxes has become increasingly cumbersome for seniors. Why is it unreasonable to ask that a corporation, reaping the fruits of our resources, help in financing our schools? Why is it acceptable to take profits back to Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma and not help shoulder some of the responsibility now placed solely on property owners? We don’t feel this is asking too much.

Barry L. Andrews


Andrews is the president of the Central Labor Council of Washington and Greene counties.


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