Harper Amendment Makes Environment a Winner Under Marcellus Shale Tax Bill

Harper Amendment Makes Environment a Winner Under Marcellus Shale Tax Bill
 
HARRISBURG – Continuing her advocacy on behalf of the environment, Rep. Kate Harper (R-Montgomery) successfully amended legislation imposing a tax on natural gas drilling to ensure sufficient tax revenue is committed to environmental initiatives.
 
Senate Bill 1155, as amended, now awaits a final vote on the House floor.
 
“My amendment makes this an environmentally friendly bill,” Harper said. “If we are going to tax the natural gas industry, the majority of the revenue must go to environmental programs and to local governments to address the impacts of this growing industry.
 
“It would be counterproductive to impose a tax just to fill the holes in our state budget,” she added.
 
When the bill came to the House floor Tuesday afternoon, it called for a full 60 percent of revenues generated from the tax to go to the state’s General Fund budget and just 12 percent to programs supported by the state’s Environmental Stewardship Fund. Harper’s amendment cut the General Fund share to just 40 percent and bumped funding for the Environmental Stewardship Fund to 32 percent.
 
The Environmental Stewardship Fund provides financial support for vital environmental initiatives, including farmland preservation, open space protection, abandoned mine reclamation, watershed protection and restoration, and water and sewer projects.
 
“Communities across the state benefit from Environmental Stewardship Fund initiatives,” Harper said. “With my amendment, I believe this bill strikes the right balance between capitalizing on the economic opportunities provided by the Marcellus Shale and addressing the environmental impacts of increased drilling.”
 
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