The Independent Oil & Gas Association of Pennsylvania and The Pennsylvania Oil & Gas Association today released the following joint statement in response to Rep. Bill DeWeese's proposed legislation to impose an oil and gas property tax at the local level. A more thorough evaluation of this proposal will be conducted in the coming days.
"The natural gas and crude oil industry has sustained the economic base of many rural Western Pennsylvania communities for more than 100 years, and with the prospect of the Marcellus Shale, it is the brightest spot in the Commonwealth for job growth and economic development. Yet before we even begin to develop the Marcellus Shale, state and local governments are anxious to tax it, potentially jeopardizing its growth in the process and hundreds if not thousands of Pennsylvania jobs. Tens of thousands of Pennsylvanians are currently employed by the oil and gas industry and contribute significant revenues to local taxing authorities. The potential for many new jobs as drilling activity increases will only add to these benefits.
"We strongly believe the legislature wants Pennsylvania to be a leader in the development of this important energy source. The Marcellus Shale could provide an economic boost for the Commonwealth for many generations, but not if it is prohibited from developing through a hastily imposed property tax.
"There is never a good time to slap unnecessary taxes on job-creating industries, but with the current state of the global economy any new taxes will certainly stunt economic growth and send a bad signal to the business community. The price of natural gas sold for $13.105 per Mcf just last July and is now selling at $3.87 per Mcf. At the same time, the number of national onshore natural gas drilling rigs stood at 1,306 last September and has since fallen to 917 with more rigs expected to drop in the coming weeks and months.
"History has shown that crude oil and natural gas drilling does not place a burden on local services that needs to be made up with new taxes. Even still, companies investing in Pennsylvania Marcellus Shale development have and will continue to work with local officials to minimize impacts and address and/or provide compensation for any impacts caused by operations. For instance, the industry has invested millions of dollars across the Commonwealth in constructing new roads -- at no cost to taxpayers or local governments.
"Repairs to roads are made at the expense of the drilling company and insured through bonding arrangements; frequently resulting in better roads than what existed prior to drilling. Drilling places no burden on counties, which would collect a large share of an imposed property tax.
"Pennsylvania is blessed with rich natural resources, including a potentially large natural gas field in the Marcellus Shale. Although the associations strongly oppose new forms of taxation, especially while the development of the Marcellus Shale is in its infancy, the industry remains willing to work with the legislature on issues to promote the development of the resource."
The Independent Oil and Gas Association of Pennsylvania (IOGA) is the principal non-profit trade association representing Pennsylvania's Independent oil and natural gas producers, marketers, service companies and related businesses.
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