Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Pittsburgh protesters call for Marcellus freeze, severance tax

By Rick Stouffer,
Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Protesters gathered Downtown today to lobby Gov. Ed Rendell and state lawmakers to freeze new Marcellus Shale drilling leases in state forests and pass a severance tax on removing natural gas from Pennsylvania land.

"It's time for the governor and the Legislature to step up and protect the most environmentally sensitive areas of state forestlands," said Jan Jarrett, CEO of Citizens for Pennsylvania's Future, or PennFuture — sponsor of the "Save the Forest" rally outside Piatt Place on Fifth Avenue.


Rendell proposed the severance tax in February 2009, but it was pulled from consideration in September because the governor said he wanted to give the fledgling Marcellus Shale industry time to get its "sea legs."

But in January, Rendell, faced with a projected $450 million revenue deficit for fiscal 2010-11, said he wants to raise at least $100 million a year from the tax on drilling, to take effect in July. Last year, Rendell proposed a 5 percent tax at the wellhead and 4.7 percent on every 1,000 cubic feet of gas produced.

Jarrett said ... the money is needed by communities impacted by Marcellus activity, for environmental protection and to help fund the state game commission and fish and boat commission.


Jim Shantz of Zelienople, Butler County, said he has seen the drawbacks of strip mining and supports the requested changes.

"We're now as taxpayers paying for those problems," he said. "As citizens of the state, I don't think we have to pay to reclaim the lands impacted by drilling or for the huge amount of water drilling requires."


Hard-working, law-abiding, tax-paying citizens are being asked to enable or bail out high-handed, covert and greedy corporate/industrial gambles time and again these days, bringing every kind of ruin down on our society. It's about time our government represented us, 'the people' it was designed to serve, and put some meaningful safeguards in place to protect our quality of life and the world we live in and leave to our children. -Splashdown


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