PA Senators Steal Wolf’s Thunder, Propose Drilling to Fund Goodies

Pennsylvania State Senators Camera Bartolotta (Washington County) and Pat Stefano (Fayette County) have just beaten PA Gov. Tom Wolf at his own game. Wolf has been gallivanting around the state like Santa Claus promoting a plan called Restore PA, a plan that will get rid of lead paint in schools, fix flooding, repair old roads, give rural residents internet access, and just about any other goody you can think of. Wolf wants to pay for it by slapping a severance tax on the Marcellus industry. Bartolotta and Stefano are introducing two bills that would fund Wolf’s folly–but do so by allowing new shale drilling on state land. Game, set, and match!
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Utica Shale Industry has (So Far) Invested $70B in Ohio

Did you know that at least $70 billion has been spent in Ohio on drilling and pipelines and other infrastructure to support the Utica Shale industry since 2011? No, we didn’t either. That is an astounding number! How about this number: Ad valorem (i.e. property) taxes paid by the shale industry from 2010 through 2018 have totaled ~$132 million. That’s money that goes to fund local schools and towns. Amazing!
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Rover Pipe Paid $73M in Property Taxes Last Year, $180M This Year

One of the arguments often heard from those who oppose natural gas pipelines is that “nobody” benefits from the pipeline except the sleazy Big Corporation that builds and profits from it. A single pipeline running through Ohio and Michigan puts that lie to rest. Rover Pipeline, built and operated by Energy Transfer, paid out some $73 million in local property taxes in 2018 when the pipeline first began operation. For 2019, with the full pipeline operating at 100% capacity for the entire year, Rover says they will pay out ~$180 million in property taxes! Taxes that fund schools, roads, first responders and other worthy causes.
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WV Governor Inexplicably Vetoes Bill to Plug Abandoned Wells

What happened? Just a few weeks ago MDN told you that the West Virginia legislature had passed a bill with bipartisan support (and support from both the drilling industry and surface owners) that would redirect monies from low-producing oil and gas wells to fund a program to plug old abandoned wells (see WV Legislative Session Closes w/Several Pro-Drilling Bills Passed). WV Gov. Jim Justice vetoed the bill last week.
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Gov. Wolf’s Campaign of Lies re Severance Tax Continues in Philly

How many times will Pennsyvlania voters (voters in general across the U.S.) continue to fall for the same old Democrat lies? “All it takes is more money. We’re almost there. Raise XYZ taxes [like a new 4.5% “severance” tax in PA] and we’ll have it. That will cure [fill in the blank]…lead problems in schools, hunger, heck, it might even cure cancer!” That’s the line of bull being fed by PA Gov. Wolf to (really stupid and gullible) Pennsylvanians about the need for a Marcellus-killing severance tax.
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WV Legislative Session Closes w/Several Pro-Drilling Bills Passed

West Virginia has the right idea. Their legislature meets for 60 days total at the beginning of each new year, and then they’re pretty much done for the year. Go to Charleston, work hard, then leave and go back to your day job. Part-time legislators. Love it! The 2019 session is now done and dusted. In the closing days of the session, two bills to help the oil and gas industry got passed and now wait for Gov. Jim Justice to sign them. However, one very important bill for the industry did not pass.
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PA Supreme Court Tires of Strippers – Turns Down PIOGA Request

In late December, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that so-called “stripper wells” can be taxed under the 2012 Act 13 law, slapped with an impact fee assessment if those wells produce more than 90 thousand cubic feet per day (Mcf/d) of gas in a single month, any month (see PA Supreme Court Rules Strippers Not Exempt from Impact Fee)?
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PA Gov. Wolf Proposes One-Time Funding for DEP

We won’t pretend to understand the wacky math Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf is attempting to perpetrate on the good citizens of PA. The state Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) wants to raise permit fees on Marcellus Shale drillers by 250% in order to help fund the agency, claiming the oil and gas program loses $800,000 per month (see PA DEP Official Says Oil & Gas Program Losing $800K per Month). Yet Wolf now wants to take money *out of* the DEP budget and replace it with one-time transfers from other off-budget funds. How does that math add up?
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New “Report” Attacks WV Shale, Advocates 10% Severance Tax

A partisan left-wing group calling itself the West Virginia Center on Budget & Policy along with another partisan left-wing group called the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) released a report last week that claims WV’s shale industry has “fallen short” in delivering on economic promises, and the way to fix it is to boost the severance tax from 5% to 10%! Yeah, they’re out of their collectivist minds.
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Ohio Schools Rub Hands Together Waiting for NEXUS Tax Revenue

NEXUS Pipeline, a $2.6 billion, 255-mile interstate pipeline that runs from Ohio into Michigan, began a partial startup in October, and was fully online in November. Although there was early opposition to the project, and some complaints from landowners along the route of construction, the project is noteworthy for the just how little complaining there actually was.
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PA Gov. Wolf Launches Severance Tax Fight 5th Year in a Row

Yes, we told you so. We told you that if our friends in PA were to unwisely reelect Tom Wolf for a second (and thankfully final) term as governor, he would continue to fight for a Marcellus-killing severance tax each and every year of his ignominious second term. Democrats (and some Republicans) just can’t keep their hands off other people’s money–it’s in their DNA.
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PA Sen. Gene Yaw, in Heart of Marcellus, Supports Severance Tax

PA State Sen. Gene Yaw

How the voters of northeast Pennsylvania who support shale energy continue to reelect Gene Yaw as their State Senator is beyond us. He’s proven in the past that he will fold like a cheap suit on the issue of a severance tax. He did so once again yesterday, implying he supports Democrat Gov. Wolf’s latest effort to tax the shale industry into oblivion.
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Plugging Orphan O&G Wells May Economically Hurt WV Counties

MDN previously reported on efforts in both Ohio and Pennsylvania to plug orphaned and abandoned oil and gas wells (all of them conventional/vertical wells), which present a health and safety issue. It’s all too easy to hit one of these old wells when drilling a new horizontal shale well. In WV, a new effort to plug old wells is causing concern for some–that the effort to plug old wells may inflict economic damage on WV counties. Huh?!
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O&G Opposes Plan to Raise WV Severance Tax to Fix Roads

We didn’t think it would take long for the oil and gas industry to push back against efforts to raise the state’s severance tax from 5% to 6% and use the “extra” money to fix secondary roads in the state (see WV Republican Senator Wants 6% Severance Tax to Fix Roads). What we didn’t know about (until now) is that a second such bill was introduced in the House by a Democrat, the second bill raising the severance tax by 50% to 7.5%! Talk about nuts!!
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PA IFO Report Says Record High Impact Tax for 2018 – $247M

Since 2012, Pennsylvania has collected the equivalent of a severance tax from Marcellus Shale drillers via something called an impact fee. Same concept as a severance tax. You drill a well, gas comes out, you pay a tax. Except with an impact fee you pay whether or not anything comes out of the ground–a more reliable source of tax revenue than a severance tax!
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