Is it Time to Tax Big Pipelines in PA?

is it time yetAn Associated Press (AP) story appearing in multiple newspapers and in online outlets has returned to the meme of how unfair it is that pipelines in Pennsylvania are not taxed, as they are in other states like New York, Ohio and West Virginia. Perhaps they have a point? No, MDN isn’t going “soft”! We’ve long made the argument that a permanent structure in the ground should benefit landowners beyond a one-time, up-front payment (see the suggestion by Bryant LaTourette made at the Constitution Pipeline scoping hearing in April 2014: Vicariously Attend FERC Scoping Hearing on Constitution Pipeline). The counter to landowners receiving ongoing royalties for pipelines is the argument of electric power lines. They run everywhere over people’s property. You can’t build a structure under or near such lines once they are in place. Yes, they can be taken down/removed (i.e. not “permanent”), but when was the last time that happened? Landowners are not given an ongoing royalty for the electricity flowing through power lines that criss cross their land. Why would you grant an ongoing payment/royalty for a pipeline in the ground if you don’t for a power line above the ground? You see this is a thorny, complex issue. Although individual landowners in states like New York don’t receive an ongoing royalty for pipelines, the pipelines themselves are considered property and pipeline companies are taxed for having them in the ground, giving a community-wide benefit to all residents in a town or village. We’ve remarked before that the property taxes where we live (in NY) have gone DOWN because of a local pipeline. When’s the last time you heard about taxes going down in New York State?! In Pennsylvania, pipelines are NOT taxed, and therefore taxpayers in those communities don’t benefit. That’s the bone of contention…

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