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Let's Be Realistic About Severance Tax

Dear Editor:

The issue of levying a gas extraction (severance) tax on companies that are connected with natural gas production in the Marcellus shale play is raised regularly in conversations, newspaper articles, letters to the editor and political campaign promises. Truly, there is no answer that will please everyone.

Let's assume that eventually the proponents of this tax may prevail. Do these folks really believe that, once those monies reach Harrisburg, a fair portion of them will be directed back to these communities where gas production is taking place?

Most of these villages, boroughs and rural areas have not ever received attention from government agencies that allow them to keep up with large cities economically, culturally and academically. Just because this region now has some new financial leverage, should the companies that are making this possible be taxed?

The landowners and natural gas companies are already contributing to taxes going to federal, state and local entities from gas leases and royalty income, as well as through increased local spending. In the event of a gas extraction tax, would this gas industry continue to support local charity events and rebuild rural roads (to the tune of millions of dollars spent so far) to a quality that government road crews could never match because of limited funding and resources?

A severance tax would not likely significantly benefit this region in the long run. Let's be careful what we wish for.


Gary and Gail Shields

Dimock Township

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