Gov. Tom Wolf outlines promised tax on natural gas

natural-gas-well-pennsylvaniaThe Morning Call

By Steve Esack and Laura Olsen

Three months ago, voters, many angry over the loss of education funding, made history by booting from office a sitting governor many viewed as responsible for the loss of thousands of teaching jobs and classroom programs for their children.

On Wednesday, newly installed Gov. Tom Wolf sought to capitalize on that sentiment to achieve a campaign promise of taxing natural gas production.

Standing in a Chester County elementary school classroom, Wolf proposed an unspecified boost in spending on public education by making natural gas drillers who operate in the state’s Marcellus Shale regions pay more in taxes and fees.

“There is a great opportunity here in terms of matching this need for funding and something we have in Pennsylvania,” Wolf said at Caln Elementary School in the Coatesville Area School District. “We sit on top of one of the richest deposits of natural gas in the world. So a severance tax on that resource would be something that is really appropriate.”

Wolf’s proposal mirrors West Virginia’s gas levy: a 5 percent tax on the value of natural gas produced from a well and a 4.7-cent fee for every 1,000 cubic feet of gas extracted.

Wolf said the tax-and-fee structure would generate $1 billion a year, with the “lion’s share” going to education. The rest would go to local governments and to the Department of Environmental Protection.

“This is a reasonable tax,” Wolf said.

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