PA House Speaker Mike Turzai (Philly Mag)
Pennsylvania House Speaker Mike Turzai today partially blamed the downturn in the natural gas industry on Gov. Tom Wolfe's proposed severance tax and his policy toward the natural gas industry. Matt Stroud reports for the Pittsburgh Business Times.
Layoffs in the industry are "directly attributable to [Wolf's] tax policy, regulatory policy, and the world economy," Turzai said.Turzai spoke in Philadelphia at the Shale Insight Conference, a gathering of companies involved in natural gas drilling. Turzai's comments came on a panel with K. Scott Roy, Range Resources Corp.'s vice president of government relations, environmental compliance, safety and security; and David Spigelmyer, president of the Marcellus Shale Coalition, which organized the event.
Pennsylvania's oil and gas rig count is lower than it's been since 2009. Resulting from low oil and gas prices and a glut of natural gas in the commonwealth, the industry downturn has led to decreased spending and layoffs. Chevron announced nearly 162 local job cuts in January. Range Resources announced then that they would cut spending by nearly a half-billion dollars, and layoffs at followed; Range cut 11 percent of its workforce by July.
Wolf has proposed a 5 percent severance tax on gas, in addition to 4.7 cents for every thousand cubic feet.
Turzai called his proposal an "unbelievably unreasonable approach toward regulatory compliance" that is "making decision makers think twice in a [difficult] economy."
Spigelmyer was less willing to blame the downturn on Wolf.
"We're a bit of a victim of our own success," Spigelmyer said.
A longtime proponent of the natural gas industry, Turzai has said for years that he's against both severance taxes and impact fees on natural gas drillers. His appearance on Thursday didn't divert from those previous statements.
"We all like things in the oven, showers, hot towels, and [with natural gas drilling] we have an opportunity in Pennsylvania for energy independence and private sector jobs that people are proud about," Turzai told hundreds in a gathered crowd. "Why are we being apologists? Why are we not being advocates? Why are we not telling this great story?"
Environmentalists were also a target for Turzai, who decried any opposition to drilling as unreasonable.
"People who are saying there's an environmental issue -- please," he said. "It's easy to attack something that you haven't tangibly touched."
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