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MSC Poll: Voters Have Mixed Feelings About Severance Tax

gas-drillingIt’s no secret that Gov. Tom Wolf wants to enact a severance tax on natural gas. One organization, though, is trying to have its say before Wolf’s plan becomes reality.

A new poll from the Marcellus Shale Coalition found support for the severance tax at just below 50 percent, with 35 percent opposing the tax and 15 percent unsure.

A solid majority of Democrats (63 percent) backed the severance tax, as well as 54 percent of independents. Just 33 percent of Republicans were supportive.

Since he was campaigning, Wolf has pushed for a 5 percent severance tax on natural gas drilling, aiming to use the profits pay for education. The proposal includes a measure that taxes 4.7 cents for every thousand cubic feet of gas drilled — a similar policy to neighboring West Virginia.

Wolf’s severance tax proposal, dubbed the Pennsylvania Education Reinvestment Act, will be just one of the plans he reveals in his first budget address, scheduled for Tuesday in front of the Grand Assembly. The Governor unveiled part of his budget proposal in Bethlehem last week, all of which will need to be approved by the GOP-controlled legislature.

Wolf expects his severance tax plan will bring in one billion dollars by the 2017 fiscal year, enough to restore cuts made to the state’s education system.

Despite this benefit, the MSC poll reported that more voters opposed the tax after considering their side of the debate. Opponents to the severance tax argue that Wolf’s plan will cost Pennsylvania jobs.

When asked whether they would still support the tax if it causes Pennsylvanians to lose their jobs, a majority of voters from both parties said no. In this case, 78 percent of Republicans, 68 percent of independents and 52 percent of Democrats opposed the tax.

In a similar vein, 67 percent of voters favored creating new jobs in the natural gas industry over raising taxes on natural gas producers. Just over a quarter (26 percent) favored the latter, while 7 percent were unsure.

Overall, the poll found Pennsylvanians supportive of the natural gas industry. A solid majority (64 percent) of voters indicated they would be more likely to vote for a politician who encouraged the industry’s growth in Pennsylvania.

However, more than a quarter of voters (35 percent) feel taxes on natural gas producers are too low, while 26 percent feel they are too high, 23 percent say they are just right and 16 percent are unsure.

The MSC is an organization that gathers and distributes information about the positive impacts of natural gas production to lawmakers, regulators, media and other industry influencers. With Wolf’s budget address fast approaching, this poll is a last-minute effort by the coalition to shape policy making.

It is also important to recognize that this is not an independent poll. A independent, non-partisan poll has only one goal: to understand and illustrate how the public feels about a certain issue or issues.

A poll commissioned by an interested party, as the MSC is on natural gas drilling, has two goals: understand how the public feels about an issue and discover how to best present their views to the public.

Anderson Robbins Research, directed by well-known Democratic pollster Chris Anderson, conducted the severance tax poll for the MSC. The poll surveyed 804 voters by telephone between Feb. 19 and 22. The margin of error is +/- 3.5 percent.

14 Responses

  1. Fracking Herb:
    “20 They pay a Corporation tax”

    How many of the companies are incorporated in Pennsylvania? Unlike Governor Wolf’s company, most if not all are incorporated in Delaware.

    All the expenses you list, with the exception of Pennsylvania Corporation tax, are costs of doing business in any state. Pennsylvania is the only state in the nation which does not have a severance tax.

    Which drilling company do you work for?

  2. Why should anyone pay attention to a poll conducted by an organization owned by the companies which would be subject to the tax? This is the opposite of an unbiased poll.

  3. Instead of Wolf claiming he can have his cake and eat it too, he should go to these fracking communities and try drinking the water.

  4. The marcellus shale coalition(MSC) board members own the fracking companies. They have 1000s of violations between them. They lack transparency, even allowed to poll and comment on themselves, as fast as Wolf barely speaks his words of severence taxing,
    How about polling the number of families who are harmed,. The audacitu! You kill water for a living. Fracked water is dead FOREVER and dumped into the earth. Here r the MSC members. K. Scott Roy, Chair
    Vice President, Government and Regulatory Affairs
    Range Resources Corporation

    David Callahan, Vice Chair
    Vice President, Government Affairs
    MarkWest Energy Partners, L.P.

    Steve Forde, Treasurer
    Public and Government Affairs Manager
    XTO Energy

    Barb Sexton, Secretary
    Director of Governmental Affairs
    Chesapeake Energy Corporation

    Renee Jones
    Manager, State Government Affairs – Northeast Region
    Chevron Appalachia

    Tommy Johnson
    Vice President, Government and Public Relations
    CONSOL Energy

    Dave Cannon
    Deputy General Counsel, Government and Environmental Affairs
    EQT Corporation

    Gordon Goodman
    Director, Safety, Environment and Pipeline Integrity
    EOG Resources, Inc.

    Heather Lamparter, At-Large
    Vice President, Legal
    EXCO Resources (PA), LLC

    Deborah Degner
    Manager, Government Affairs
    Noble Energy

    Craig Mayer
    Vice President for Government Relations
    Pennsylvania General Energy

    Dale A. Rowekamp, At-Large
    Vice President – Land & Marketing
    Seneca Resources Corporation

  5. Most of the vehicles and workers are from outside of PA.

    Some landowners have gotten royalty checks for a little as 10-cents (and the gas companies routinely cheat on the amount they extract, and saddle the landowners with expenses the companies should be paying).

    The taxes they do pay are very small compared to profits (which they under-report along with the amount of gas they extract and the amount of waste water they dump into streams). And, they are sill paying less in PA than in other states.

    They don’t repair the roads well enough, and they damage many other roads that they don’t repair.

    Many landowners (and nearby landowners without leases) can’t even live on their land anymore because the air, water and ground are polluted and they, their children and their livestock are sick.

  6. In the end the natural gas user YOU will pay all of these tax. This is what the gas industry already pays the state and federal govts.

    Natural Gas Facts

    1 They create jobs and pay workers that pay income tax
    2 They pay registration fees for vehicles
    3 They pay a motor fuels tax
    4 They pay for a permit to withdraw water from water sources
    5 They pay gas well storm water permit for well pads
    6 They pay a well bore permit
    7 They pay a well permit for each well drilled from the main bore. Can be as many as 12
    18 They pay a landowner lease
    19 They pay a landowner royalty
    20 They pay a Corporation tax
    21 They pay a tax on profit to the state
    22 They pay a tax on profit to the Fed Govt
    23 The landowners pay state tax on royalties
    24 The landowners pay Fed tax on the royalty
    25 They repair the roads they use. Something the state gets 41 cents a gallon for but spends on other than roads and bridges.
    26 The natural gas buyer pays a tax
    27 They pay for permits and right of way for pipelines to get gas to market.
    28 Have I missed anything. That’s already 27 fees the natural gas industry pays
    29 Now they want an extraction tax and have impact fees these 2 will be 28 and 29 fees the industry and landowners pay.
    30 I forgot this one silly me. If your land is Clean and Green and the gas company drills a well or uses some of your Clean and Green acres. The used acreage is no longer Clean and Green and is now taxable as non Clean and Green. And if my memory is good the tax on that used acreage is payable by the land owner for the last 7 years that the land owner received a tax discount on that land for Clean and Green even though it was clean and green for that 7 years. There was talk about doing away with that but I am not sure if it passed
    31 The land owner pays a tax on the lease money to the state.
    32 The land owner pays a tax on the lease money to the Federal Government.
    What will they think of next.

  7. Unsanctioned-

    Cute pun. Unfortunately, that small group is getting fracked up the well pipe and dealing with all the spillage.

  8. Wolf loves fracking and thinks it’s a net gain for PA. A small Frack-tion disagree. Wa wa waaa.

  9. Observer-

    Is it right for PA to produce gas using fracking, instead of a safer method? Fracking is inherently unsafe and destroying the local environments where it is used.

  10. Observer, which gas-producing state’s business tax structure do you think Pennsylvania should emulate? Seriously, if Wolf started here, we’d have a real consensus maker on our hands.

  11. Push polls like this are like Grand Juries: you can get them to say any damn thing you want. Here’s the question that should be asked: Is it right for PA to be the only major gas-producing state that does NOT have a Severance Tax? The Lying Frackers at Big Gas Inc. don’t want you to know the answer to that one.

  12. Third goal by interested party: manipulate poll/results to show more support for your position.

    Like when Corbett came out with polls showing the race closer than it was.

    Here is loaded question: “When asked whether they would still support the tax if it causes Pennsylvanians to lose their jobs, a majority of voters from both parties said no.”

    It presupposes that jobs would be lost, and even that jobs have been created.

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    Total Voters: 30

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