Thursday, January 28, 2010

Group seeks severance tax support

Anne Danahy-
Centre Daily Times
Jan. 28, 2010

A statewide environmental organization wants to make sure the value of the land that holds natural gas doesn't get forgotten in the push to drill.

PennFuture is holding a day-long conference Saturday at the Nittany Lion Inn to gather support for a severance tax on Marcellus Shale gas drilling and a moratorium on future leasing of state forests for drilling. The group also wants some of the money raised from a gas tax to go back to the land and municipalities where the drilling takes place.

Jan Jarrett, president and CEO of PennFuture, acknowledged the cause is a “heavy lift.”

“But we really need to organize our support and figure out what we need to do to help get that done,” Jarrett said.

Drilling for natural gas in Pennsylvania, including Centre County, has been on the rise since researchers found that the Marcellus Shale region — which stretches from New York to West Virginia — could contain vast amounts of natural gas. Pennsylvania does not levy a severance tax on the gas that’s extracted. Some legislators and organizations have been pushing for one, and Gov. Ed Rendell recently came out in support of a state severance tax.


“The severance tax is important to help us pay for the cost of permitting and regulating the drillers and gas companies on both private and public ground. It is also important because as a significant source of income it will relieve the pressure to lease more public ground,” State Rep. Mike Hanna, D-Lock Haven, said in an e-mail.

“The moratorium will allow us to see the impact of drilling on the approximately one-third of public ground already leased,” he said. “We must ensure that the experts in (the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources) and (the state Department of Environmental Protection) can assess the environmental impacts on ground currently being drilled to be sure we require the appropriate protections as we move forward with development.”


Jarrett said PennFuture does not want all the money generated to go back to the state’s general fund. Instead, she said, some should go back to environmental stewardship and help municipalities cover costs for services such as emergency protection.

(See Announcements in sidebar at right)

Who: PennFuture, Citizens for Pennsylvania's Future

What: "Marcellus Shale Muster: The Campaign for a Severance Tax and Protection of Public Land"

When: Saturday

Where: Nittany Lion Inn, Penn State campus

Info:Information is on the Web at

Registration is required.

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