September 24, 2010
Legislature Must Pass Reasonable Severance Tax to Fund Disappearing Environmental Programs
CBF Calls on Leaders to Fund Disappearing Environmental Programs
(HARRISBURG, PA)—Matthew Ehrhart, Pennsylvania Executive Director for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF), released this statement on the struggle to pass Pennsylvania's Marcellus Shale natural gas production severance tax.
"Our legislative leaders have only seven days to meet their own commitment to pass a severance tax that is sensible, promotes environmental restoration, and provides a share for communities impacted by drilling like all other states with significant natural gas reserves. CBF calls on our General Assembly to not falter, but meet their commitment to Pennsylvania and pass a severance tax that makes sense.
"Passing a severance tax will help restore funding that has disappeared over the last five years from the successful Growing Greener and other programs designed to meet Clean Water and other mandates. Growing Greener, in particular, has provided hundreds of millions of dollars to restore our watersheds, reclaim abandoned mines, and plug abandoned gas wells, but is today all but gone. The severance tax is an opportunity to re-establish those funds, without which Pennsylvanians will be left to bear the burden of any environmental remediation.
"It is our opinion that a more significant portion of the severance tax should be allocated for funding environmental programs that actually clean up our streams, rivers and land.
"As a state, and as local communities, we must demand that citizens not be left with the burden of paying for big industry mistakes. 100 years later, Pennsylvania is still dealing with the left-over environmental damage from coal mining companies that extracted our natural resources and left us with the bill.
"Today we have over 19,000 miles of streams that fail to meet Clean Water Act standards. Over 4,000 stream miles and thousands of acres of land scarred and barren, all thanks to mining. Not only is this an environmental tragedy, it's an economic burden to the Commonwealth as well, as this kind of environmental damage is extremely expensive to repair. We must have safeguards in place to protect our environment and our communities."