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House of Representatives
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: January 30, 2019 02:17 PM
From: Representative Scott Conklin
To: All House members
Subject: Natural Gas: Heating Low-income Homes Across the Commonwealth
No one deserves to be left out in the cold. Unfortunately many of our constituents will find themselves without adequate financial resources to ensure that their families will be kept warm during the winter season. The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, also known as LIHEAP, is a Federally-funded program that helps low-income households meet their home heating needs through cash grants sent directly to their utility provider.

In Pennsylvania, eligible households are those whose gross annual income is equal to or less than 150 percent of Federal Poverty Income Guidelines. LIHEAP provides heating assistance funds that keep seniors and vulnerable Pennsylvanians warm during the winter months. Recipients of LIHEAP are people who we all know, residents, constituents, friends, and even family members. Unfortunately, funding for LIHEAP has precipitously declined over the past few years from $311 million to $203 million. This has left many Pennsylvanians literally “in the cold”.

It is for this reason that I am proposing that, a 10-cent-per-volume severance tax be levied on each one thousand cubic feet of natural gas extracted in Pennsylvania. Recent reports indicate that in a full year of production, Pennsylvania extracted approximately 3.2 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. At this rate, a 10 cent per volume rate would generate $300 -$350 million in revenue, with that amount increasing as production increases as anticipated over the coming years.

The proposed legislation would allocate the first $300 million in annual revenue to LIHEAP. This will provide vital energy assistance to eligible households who otherwise would not receive heating benefits. Any remaining benefits, above the $300 million, would be dedicated to the Property Tax Rent Rebate Program established by the Taxpayer Relief Act. Additionally, this legislation permits the continuing levying of the unconventional gas well fee established by Act 13 of 2012 to ensure areas impacted by natural gas drilling activities are able to continue to mitigate those impacts.

Heating assistance is critical for Pennsylvania’s vulnerable seniors and families, and the abundance of the natural gas in Pennsylvania, which is often utilized for heating purposes, provides an appropriate revenue source to supplement funding for LIHEAP.

Please join me in ensuring that no Pennsylvanian is left out in the cold, by supporting this very important and vital legislation.