Wolf proposes gas severance tax for flood control, recovery

York

Seven roads and bridges in Chanceford Township have been closed since severe flooding in early September.

“It looks the same as it looked back then,” township resident Mark Dupp said. “They haven’t been able to fix anything.”

It could be several years before things get back to normal, but the state may have a plan to speed things up. Representatives of the state Department of Environmental Protection visited the township Thursday and touted Gov. Tom Wolf’s new Restore Pennsylvania initiative.

Wolf’s plan would use a severance tax on natural gas drilling to repair the state’s aging infrastructure, improve flood protection, and establish a disaster relief trust fund to assist people with losses that FEMA will not cover.

“We are hopeful that demonstrating the needs throughout Pennsylvania in a variety of ways will help push this over the finish line,” said Joseph Adams, regional director of DEP’s Southcentral Regional Office.

Chanceford Township doesn’t have the money for the repairs. The storm damage totals $2.7 million, more than double its annual budget. Federal assistance was denied in October, crushing all hopes for swift disaster relief.

“It was devastating,” township supervisor Kent Heffner said. “We thought we would get help, and everyone said don’t worry about a disaster, you will always get help. Don’t worry about what happens, you’ll get federal help. But that didn’t happen.”

If Restore Pennsylvania is able to get the funding from a severance tax, $4.5 billion would be distributed throughout Pennsylvania communities in need.

The Marcellus Shale Coalition’s President, David Spigelmyer released the following statement today. 

“Pennsylvania’s tax on natural gas – the impact fee – generates hundreds of millions of dollars annually for critical infrastructure programs across the entire Commonwealth. This existing annual tax revenue, when combined with other business taxes paid by the industry as well as lease bonuses and royalties tied to natural gas development on state land, has provided nearly $5 billion in revenue since unconventional shale gas development began. Imposing additional energy taxes will cost consumers, hurt local jobs, especially among the building and labor trades, and negatively impact investment needed to safely produce clean and abundant energy that’s ushering in a new era of manufacturing growth. We’ll continue to work with leaders in Harrisburg on solutions to drive continued economic growth, environmental progress and a brighter future for the entire Commonwealth.”

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