ISSUE: Pennsylvania House Bill 1401, the Severance Tax Bill, proposes a natural gas tax that would raise up to $250 million a year to help close Pennsylvania’s $2.2 billion budget gap and break the budget stalemate in PA’s Assembly. Anti-environmental amendments/riders are expected if the bill reaches the full House for debate and vote.
ACTION: Call your state Representative and ask her/him to support HB 1401, the Severance Tax Bill, without any anti-environmental riders, i.e. amendments that could result in pollution that harms children and the unborn. Find your rep.
BACKGROUND: Pennsylvania’s state budget crisis has resulted in a down-grading of PA’s credit rating, and numerous programs lack funds. Rep. Gene DiGirolamo (R-Bucks) has sponsored a bill, HB 1401, that would generate up to $250 million through a severance tax on natural gas, which is paid by the producers. HB 1401 has passed out of Committee and is awaiting action on the floor. Currently, PA, the No. 2 natural gas producing state, is the only one without a severance tax.
We have a deep concern that amendments offered on the House floor would make changes to the state’s permitting process, which would create more pollution. Such anti-environmental riders were included in a Senate bill passed over the summer. We need a strong permitting process by the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) that protects our children and the unborn from methane pollution and other toxic pollution associated with natural gas production.
Medical research shows that living within 0.5 miles of an oil or gas production facility is correlated with cancer, respiratory illness, birth defects, and brain impacts.
Almost 311,000 children attend school within 0.5 miles of gas production.
Over 1.5 million people have homes within 0.5 miles.
In addition, over 30,000 kids each year suffer asthma attacks caused by methane and VOC’s leaking from natural gas production and transformation.
The House bill imposes a volume tax that rises with the price of natural gas from 2 cents per thousand cubic feet to 3.5 cents per thousand cubic feet. A sponsor, Rep. Gene DiGirolamo, R-Bucks, said at the current price it would raise about $250 million in a full year, although others calculated a figure closer to $100 million, using 2016 production and current prices.