County Leaders Push For Local Share Of Natural Gas Tax

Commissioner Paul Heimel presses Gov. Rendell for local gas tax share

From Potter County Today

History was made on Tuesday afternoon in Towanda as Gov. Ed Rendell signed Senate Bill 1042, the state’s fiscal code, which formally approves an extraction tax on natural gas that’s produced in Pennsylvania beginning as soon as Oct. 1. The governor, shown here with Bradford County Commissioner Mark Smith at Tuesday’s ceremony, was flanked as he signed the bill by a half-dozen county commissioners in the Marcellus Shale natural gas drilling region, including Paul Heimel of Potter County and Erick Coolidge of Tioga County.

After the session, Heimel and Coolidge spoke with Gov. Rendell and urged him to support a generous “local carve-out” from the revenue that the extraction tax will produce. They pointed out that municipal and county governments are incurring expenses that are sure to escalate as drilling activity increases. A local carve-out would allow local governments in the Marcellus Shale region to ease the burden on local taxpayers, they noted.

His speech prior to signing SB 1042 strongly endorsed the local carve-out:

“The rich natural gas deposits in the Marcellus Shale represent a tremendous opportunity in the form of new jobs and economic stimulus to mostly rural communities. We have a responsibility to ensure that the economic benefits are balanced with the need to protect the local environment and the communities where the work is being done. Along with the economic boom, the burgeoning natural gas industry is also creating a lot of new responsibilities and concerns that carry enormous costs for local communities . . .  The local and county governments where this drilling is taking place do not have the financial resources they need to address these concerns. That’s why it is absolutely essential that the severance tax we enact pay these host municipalities their fair share. We need to start working on this tax now so there’s no delay in getting them the financial resources they need.”

The state has issued nearly 2,900 natural gas drilling permits this year, of which 1,172 are for Marcellus Shale development.

“This industry is literally exploding,” Rendell said. “It’s a gold rush, but we have to make sure that we monitor it well – that we protect our environment, our water supply, our rivers, our aquifers, our roads and our local communities.”

Article courtesy of the Potter County Commissioners.

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