Here we go again. Lawmakers in Pennsylvania are trying, once again, to enact a tax on fracking. The “severance tax” has been tried—and failed—before. But now it’s back, and worse than ever.
With the blessing of Governor Tom Wolf, the state Senate has passed a budget bill that pairs a small severance tax with a host of outrageous giveaways to the frackers. The budget package, which emerged quickly in late July and narrowly passed the Senate, is a bonanza for oil and gas companies drilling the state. It would take permitting decisions away from the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and hand them over to industry-picked consultants—effectively privatizing a critical government function. It would also create a new air quality panel to oversee those permits, which is seen as an attempt to undercut methane emissions rules. And it would also speed up the review process for drilling permits.
Those ‘compromises’ are completely unacceptable. But even on its own, a fracking tax has always been a bad idea. Though it gives politicians a chance to look like they’re getting ‘tough’ on the dirty energy industry, a fee paid by drilling companies would do nothing to address the countless harms associated with fracking. Poisoning our air water to generate a little money for the state government is not only short-sighted, it will actually intensify this crisis, since the state would be relying on fracking to pay for government services. Instead of banning fracking, we’d be encouraging more of it.
It’s no surprise that advocates for clean air and water are outraged by this blatant corporate giveaway. In previous years, the oil and gas industry has flexed its considerable muscle to stop the tax. But there’s a chance that this time around, the giveaways from Harrisburg might be enough to get them on board.
That’s why we’re fighting to stop this awful tax from becoming law. Send that message to state lawmakers today.