Sunday, July 3, 2011

Three years and still no fracking tax in PA...here's why


PA Gov. Tom Corbett


Wonder why the Pennsylvania's legislature and governor last week approved a state budget that slashes funding for education and social welfare but ignores an obvious source of offsetting revenue--a tax on natural drilling industry?

Wonder no more. 

The Times-Tribune's Harrisburg bureau chief Robert Swift reports today that the natural gas industry spent more than $3.5 million last year to lobby lawmakers and state officials.

That's more than three times the amount spent by the casino industry, over the same period, to influence the influential.
All that lobbying cash not only squashed hopes of enacting a drilling tax but apparently also stymied every other major legislative initiative that the industry disliked.

Swift reports that:
"While the Marcellus drilling boom led to a slew of bills dealing with matters ranging from greater protection for water supplies, a moratorium on natural gas drilling in state forests and state safety inspections of gas pipelines, only two became law in 2010. These are narrowly drawn measures to provide more public access to well production data and make landowners who lease land for natural gas drilling subject to roll-back taxes..."
"The natural gas industry has decided it's better to spend money on lobbying and campaign contributions than to pay a severance tax, said Rep. Greg Vitali, R-166, Havertown, sponsor of a severance tax bill.

"That $3.5 million figure is staggering," he added. "It isn't the type of spending you would find from fledgling companies."

But it is the kind of spending that gets results--and the industry sure got it's money's worth last year.

Here's a list of the gas industry's top lobbying spenders:
  • Marcellus Shale Coalition: $1.1 million
  • Range Resources Appalachia: $392,000 
  • Chesapeake Energy: $382,000
  • Pennsylvania Independent Oil and Gas Association: $247,000
  • East Resources Management: $225,000
  • Chief Oil and Gas: $186,000
  • Alpha Natural Resources: $160,000
  • Dominion Transmission: $146,000
  • Exco Resources: $130,000
  • BG North America: $124,000
  • EQT Corp.: $105,000
  • Talisman Energy: $85,000
  • Equitable Gas Co.: $78,000
  • Columbia Gas of Pennsylvania: $75,000
  • Consol Energy: $75,000
  • CNX Gas Corp.: $59,000
  • Exxon Mobil: $55,000
  • Cabot Oil and Gas: $50,000
  • Pennsylvania General Energy: $48,000
  • XTO Energy: $41,000
  • National Fuel Gas: $36,000
  • NiSource: $36,000
  • Anadarko Petroleum: $21,000

What's your view on this?  Let us know in the comment box below.  If you don't see one, click the tiny 'comments' link to open it.

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