DEP Sec. Hanger’s Parting Words: Tax the Drillers

Pennsylvania’s outgoing Department of Environmental Protection Secretary, John Hanger, sent a message Thursday night thanking department employees and other supporters for their work and offering his good wishes to incoming DEP Secretary Michael Krancer, a judge with the state’s Environmental Hearing Board.

Hangar had this to say about a severance tax on gas drilling; a fee that incoming Governor Tom Ridge has promised the industry he will NOT impose.

Taxing gas drilling offers an enormous opportunity to pay for a decades long environmental clean up of our watersheds, our lands, and our air. A drilling tax could easily raise $200 million per year to pay for restoring streams destroyed by coal mining and to finance open space purchases and much more environmental improvement. Governor Ridge enacted Growing Greener. Governor Rendell won passage of Growing Greener 2 but its funds have now been invested and are exhausted. Pennsylvania has much more clean-up to do and needs Growing Greener 3. A drilling tax that is supported by at least 63% of Pennsylvanians could finance for decades environmental clean up that could to do enormous good for our environment. This is a major opportunity presented by the Marcellus gas reserve. Failing to tax the Marcellus makes no sense and is a major piece of undone business. The Marcellus gas industry is now huge, with billions of foreign investment pouring into Pennsylvania and with tax-free profits going back to China, Norway, India, and Great Britain. Every state has a drilling tax and none of those states has killed their golden goose. And the Marcellus goose is the most golden of all because the gas here is comparatively low cost to produce, low-cost to deliver to markets in New York and Boston, and high profit. We must tax it and use at least one-third of the revenues to fund Growing Greener 3 and other environmental programs.

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