Natural gas industry strikes back at tax increase proposal

Mark Abrams
May 03, 2018 - 4:57 pm
A Seneca Resources Corp. crew prepares a 2009 well-drilling site in Loyalsock State Forest near Trout Run, Pa.

Clem Murray/Philadelphia Inquirer/MCT/Sipa USA

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Gov. Tom Wolf is getting some blowback from representatives of Pennsylvania's natural gas and Marcellus Shale industries over his renewed call for a dedicated tax on those operations.

During a media conference call, Stephanie Catarino Wissman, executive director of the Associated Petroleum Industries of Pennsylvania, called the governor's proposal, which was released earlier this week, a bad economic policy. 

"Pennsylvania's natural gas industry already pays its fair share in taxes," she said, "paying an estimated $219 million in impact taxes this year. And that's up $46 million over last year."

Wissman said the impact fee in lieu of a so-called severance tax was agreed to by the state legislature years ago.

"Raising taxes further could force producers to cut back, jeopardizing a reliable source of funds for roads, bridges and other community needs," she added.

Harrisburg observers noted Republican legislative leaders have no interest in Wolf's tax proposal.

David Spigelmyer, president of the Marcellus Shale Coalition, also blasted Wolf during the conference call, echoing Wissman's views.

He agreed that the impact fee goes toward communities most affected by gas industry operations. He warned that if the legislature embraces Wolf's idea, the state can't have it both ways.

"It's another assault on an industry that's already taxed through an impact tax that has generated $1.5 billion, or nearly $1.5 billion dollars since 2012," he explained. "In 2012 when this legislation was passed, it's written in the statute that if the severance tax is passed at some future date, the impact fee goes away."