Legislator wants landowners protected if tax passes

A severance tax may be moving closer to reality in the state with at least one area Republican lawmaker counting himself among those leaning toward supporting the issue.

State Rep. Garth Everett, R-Muncy, feels the time has come for the gas industry to pay a tax on production costs.

“These companies are producing tons of gas in Pennsylvania,” he said. “They are here. They are established. They are in production.”

The gas industry, which already pays an impact fee on gas, has long opposed a severance tax.

But the issue has never been allowed to die by those looking to find additional funding for the state.

And in the past year, when lawmakers were looking for ways to plug a more than $2 billion budget deficit, it once again was raised as a possible revenue source.

Everett said he’s fine with a measure that doesn’t transfer the tax to landowners.

The big question, he noted, will come down to whether legislative leaders allow a bill to ever come to a vote.

When queried about the issue, state Rep. Jeff Wheeland, R-Loyalsock said, “I believe the impact fee should be revisited.”

With decreased drilling in Marcellus Shale, money raised through the impact fee has been dwindling.

Much of that money comes back to municipalities that can be used for infrastructure and other needs.

“We need to look at what other states do,” Wheeland said. “We should not be letting money on the table, but don’t chase production out of Pennsylvania.”

Everett noted that House Bill 1401 includes a provision that specifically precludes producers from passing “the severance tax onto the landowner, leaseholder or other person in possession of the property where the extraction occurs or require landowners to reimburse the producer for the severance tax.”