OH Congressman Intros Impact Fee for Counties with WNF Drilling

Congressman Bill Johnson

Congressman Bill Johnson, Republican from Ohio’s 6th District, has introduced a bill to compensate counties that contain federal lands, if those lands are drilled for oil and gas. Johnson’s bill, titled Providing Opportunities With Energy Revenues (or POWER) Counties Act (copy below), would siphon off a portion of any royalties paid to the federal government for federal lands that are drilled, sending that money back to the counties where the drilling takes place. Although Johnson and those supporting the bill don’t call it an impact fee, that’s exactly what it is. In Pennsylvania instead of a severance tax, legislators passed Act 13 (in 2012) which contains and impact fee. With PA’s impact fee (roughly the same thing as a severance tax), 60% of the fee raised stays with local counties and municipalities, while 40% goes to the black hole of Harrisburg where it disappears into statewide spending (mainly Philadelphia). It has been a hugely successful model–better than a severance tax. Johnson’s proposed law is not a tax, but reallocates money from existing royalties paid to the federal government for drilling on federal lands. In Ohio, the only federal land where drilling takes place is Wayne National Forest–so those counties where there is WNF drilling would get some extra cash to help out with road repairs, first responders, etc. The brilliance of the plan is that it doesn’t impose any new taxes–it simply reallocates who gets what from the existing revenue stream. Johnson says, “it is a simple issue of fairness”…

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