HARRISBURG, August 8, 2011 – Senator Wayne D. Fontana, responding to today’s comments made by Lieutenant Governor Jim Cawley, called the administration’s position on the imposition of a severance fee on Marcellus shale drilling short-sighted.
Fontana disagrees with Cawley’s stance on taxing the industry – arguing that natural gas drilling companies cannot be lumped together with other businesses in the Commonwealth. “The industry is permanently removing a resource from the Commonwealth – and financially benefitting from that removal – and should be contributing to the overall well-being of the Commonwealth in return,” explained Fontana.
This fall, Fontana will amend already-introduced impact fee legislation in order to dedicate one-third share of any impact fee to the repair of roads and bridges. This investment, he says, will create immediate jobs. Fontana, who serves as Democratic chairman of the Senate Community, Economic and Recreational Development Committee, said his plan would dedicate one third of the impact fee revenue to repairing the state’s roads and bridges, one third to the municipality where drilling is taking place, and one third to environmental oversight. None of the impact fee revenue would go to the General Fund.
With the recent releases of the reports of the Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission and the Transportation Funding Advisory Commission, it is clear that the Commonwealth has needs related to both industries that could very well extend beyond the capacity of Pennsylvania taxpayers. Fontana’s plan provides a forward-thinking approach to addressing several needs simultaneously.
Senator Fontana and other members of the Senate Democratic Caucus want to ensure that a severance fee on Marcellus Shale drilling remains a top priority as the General Assembly begins its legislative session in the fall.
Senator Fontana is a co-sponsor of two bills that would do this (legislation introduced by Senators Ferlo and Yudichak); he has also co-sponsored several bills that address other impacts related to Marcellus Shale drilling activities.
“With the debt crisis on the federal level and the sheer number of economic development programs being cut on the state level, we need to be aggressive in pursuing programs which will create jobs,” Fontana said. “This legislation will not only create jobs, but it will do so without raising taxes or placing the burden on our middle class.”
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