[Update] Schwartz Plans Extraction Tax on Marcellus Shale (VIDEO)

Rep. Allyson Schwartz

Fall is coming, and the platforms of the gubernatorial candidates are beginning to solidify. Speaking to reporters this afternoon, Allyson Schwartz rolled out the first of a series of policy visions she hopes to pursue as governor.

The Congresswoman announced that, if elected Governor, she would levy an extraction tax on companies hoping to take advantage of Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale reserves. The revenues from this tax would be used mainly to fund transportation and education.

Schwartz argued that natural gas and the potential massive profits the reserves hold should benefit all Pennsylvanians.

“We ought to be able to share in the wealth as well and put that wealth to work for Pennsylvanians,” Schwartz said. “To grow the economy not only in the energy sector but more broadly.”

In the first year of this 5% tax, Schwartz’s campaign asserted that the state could net $612 million. By 2022, their findings showed that this should provide over $2 billion in annual revenue.

Despite the enticing promises of this extra revenue, the Congresswoman’s plan will not be without its detractors for several reasons.

Marcellus Shale, which requires fracking to extract the oil, has been a highly controversial issue for environmentalists and it may be difficult to get other Democrats on board.

Addressing the environmental concerns, Schwartz said that she would ensure that the gas was extracted safely, using the best technology available accompanied by careful monitoring.

“Communities around the state who do not want drilling should be able to say so,” Schwartz stated.

She went on to say that she hopes these communities won’t feel the need to opt out because the regulations put in place will guarantee clean water and air. Schwartz argued that people have been so hesitant about Marcellus Shale with Corbett as governor because they can’t trust him on issues of regulation and environmental protection.

The gubernatorial candidate reminded reporters that even those people who aren’t inclined to support fracking will come aboard because finding money for schools is such a high priority among their constituents. Highlighting the schools will likely be a major selling point for the Congresswoman if and when she attempts to court the general assembly to support her plan.

When he was Governor, Ed Rendell also attempted to create an extraction tax, but failed to get the necessary support from the legislature. If she becomes governor, Schwartz will likely have to deal with many of the same obstacles he faced.

A poll last month showed that Schwartz is the early favorite to win the democratic nomination. Also in the race is former Secretary of the Department of Revenue Tom Wolf, former DEP Secretaries John Hanger and Katie McGinty, and possibly State Treasurer Rob McCord.

For more information on Congresswoman Schwartz’s plan, see the video she released earlier today, entitled “One Pennsylvania.”

Update: Gov. Corbett’s campaign released a withering statement criticizing Allyson Schwartz’s proposal.

“If this is a preview of Allyson Schwartz’s tax and spend agenda, Pennsylvanians better hide their wallets,” said Campaign Manager Mike Barley.“Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz’s proposal to drastically increase taxes on the shale gas industry will cost Pennsylvanians good-paying, middle-class jobs by forcing the industry to relocate to more business and energy friendly states.”

7 Responses

  1. I don’t understand Barley’s comment — will higher taxes somehow move the gas to other locations? PA has some of the largest reserves in the country, if not the world. How would moving to another state allow them to get the oil and gas? If Democrats can do magic, shouldn’t we really all be supporting them?

    Also, for what it’s worth, there’s plenty of evidence those aren’t PA workers filling those jobs — which is why the Corbett administration won’t release full job stats and details.

  2. It’s about time somebody made the Frackers pay SOMETHING for the rape of our natural resources and environment. NO other major gas producing state gives drillers a Free Ride the way OneTerm Tom sold us out for campaign cash (and a likely lifetime employment contract). We look like Chumps to the Frackers. Hey, Gizzard-man – show me ONE state that gives away Gas for free?

  3. bob-
    I think you mean Republicans want to give away natural resources on the cheap to the industries that have bought and paid for their political careers and the heck with environmental clean-up.

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