The irony of Wolf’s extraction tax

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By Charles Breene

Gov. Tom Wolf has said he will use proceeds from a new natural gas extraction tax to pay for education, infrastructure and to alleviate a budget shortfall. The great irony is that Wolf’s new tax targets the very sector of the economy that has fueled a renaissance in manufacturing, economic security for workers and families, and revitalized communities.

Wolf’s new tax would stall that growth and progress.

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry, 240,000 Pennsylvanians work in jobs related to development of the Marcellus shale. The local natural gas boom has meant jobs for more than construction workers, engineers, geologists and mechanics. Drive down Main Street in Washington, Pa., or Williamsport and you will see “now hiring” signs in front of local restaurants, small businesses, safety equipment manufacturers and steel mills.
The new extraction tax threatens this economic renaissance. But it is a top priority for Wolf and billionaire environmental activist Tom Steyer, who spent $65 million last year supporting candidates like Wolf.

Wolf claims that the natural gas sector has not paid its fair share. But the reality is that Pennsylvania’s Public Utility Commission collected more than $632 million in Marcellus shale impact fees between 2011 and 2013. The amount has increased in each of the past three years. Proceeds, which are distributed to counties and municipalities, have been used to improve infrastructure, invest in workforce development and improve quality of life.

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