Siptroth welcomes passage of fair natural gas drilling tax

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Harrisburg, PA – State Rep. John Siptroth welcomed today’s House passage of a bill (S.B. 1155) that would end Pennsylvania’s status as the only one of the 15 major natural gas producing states without an extraction tax or similar fee, and provide money to local communities impacted by drilling.

On the House floor, Siptroth, D-Monroe/Pike, voted for a Republican amendment that would increase funding for environmental protection, county conservation districts and local governments. The amendment was added to the bill.

“I’m pleased to see that some of my Republican colleagues care about the environment like I do and I hope the Republicans in the Senate follow their example and pass this bill,” Siptroth said. “The bill isn’t perfect, but we have to start somewhere and time is short in this session. We must put something in place to protect the environment, help local communities and fund our conservation districts, as well as increase heating bill assistance for vulnerable residents.”

Siptroth said when both chambers passed the 2010-11 budget in June, they agreed to enact a severance tax. Siptroth said the companies can afford the tax.

“Those companies expect to make large profits from drilling here, and Pennsylvanians should get a portion of that money,” Siptroth said. “Halliburton, Exxon and other big oil companies are spending billions to buy into the Marcellus Shale play. They can afford this fair tax. To give them our natural resources for free is absurd and a dereliction of our duty to ensure all citizens benefit.”

“I believe there has to be a balance between the industry’s desire to exploit our natural resources for huge profits and giving local and state government tools to deal with infrastructure and environmental issues that are already being created by the industry,” Siptroth said. “The well accident in Clearfield County and the polluted water supply in Susquehanna County are proof that we need to make sure this industry grows responsibly, is answerable for its mistakes and is held financially accountable.”