Butler County's great daily newspaper

A state windfall

April 26, 2018 Letters to the Editor

Regarding Miriam McCaslin’s April 13 letter “Driller Destruction.”

Pennsylvania imposes a unique tax on natural gas, called the impact fee. Designed to directly benefit communities in all 67 counties, the impact tax has generated $1.5 billion since 2012. This impact tax is levied on top of the other taxes that all businesses in Pennsylvania pay — including the state’s second highest in the nation corporate net income tax. Natural gas development has generated more than $3.5 billion in income tax, bonus, and lease royalty revenue since 2008.

The impact tax, which companies pay each time they drill a well, directly supports communities in every county as well as key statewide environmental and conservation programs. Sixty percent of the revenue stays in the regions where gas drilling occurs.

From 2012 to 2016, Butler County received $8,657,942 from impact fees alone. Local governments allocate these funds to be used in 13 different categories, ranging from emergency preparedness/public safety to local tax reductions, social services and environmental programs, or to deposit into the county’s capital reserve fund, among others. Another use of impact fee funds is for public infrastructure construction, which entails construction, reconstruction, maintenance and repair of roadways, bridges, and public infrastructure.

Pennsylvania is the second-largest producer of natural gas in the United States — 322,600 jobs, or approximately 5 percent of all jobs in the state, are linked to the oil and natural gas industry, according to a 2017 study by API. The natural gas industry’s contribution to the Pennsylvania economy in 2015 was $24.5 billion.

In addition, Pennsylvania residents enjoy gas bills that are on average 40 percent lower than 10 years ago. The potential for even greater economic and environmental benefits to Pennsylvanians and the commonwealth exists. Even Gov. Tom Wolf said, “Shale gas represents enormous economic opportunity” for Pennsylvania and the state should do “everything we can to support additional development.”