|Posted:||April 8, 2019 03:24 PM|
|From:||Senator Camera Bartolotta and Sen. Patrick J. Stefano|
|To:||All Senate members|
|Subject:||No-Tax Alternative to Restore PA Plan|
|In recent months, Governor Wolf proposed a plan called Restore PA, which would use a job killing energy tax to fund a bond to provide funding for blight remediation, stormwater infrastructure, flood prevention, brownfield cleanups, green infrastructure and repairing the Commonwealth’s back roads among other projects. While Governor Wolf’s focus on these important issues for Pennsylvania’s communities is worth applauding, we believe the proposed funding source for these initiatives is reckless and counterproductive. The Governor’s proposed severance tax will only cost jobs and increase energy prices for Pennsylvanians.
In the near future, we will introduce two bills in an effort to end Governor Wolf’s moratorium on non-surface disturbance natural gas drilling on state forest land and direct any new revenue towards funding conservation projects such as those referenced in Restore PA.
Introduced as SB716
This legislation will end Governor Wolf’s moratorium on non-surface disturbance natural gas drilling on state forest land. It will allow the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) to decide whether to enter into new gas leases.
For seventy years, DCNR has managed the responsible mineral extraction of natural gas on state land. According to the Department, “Approximately 1.5 million acres of the 2.2 million-acre state forest land are underlain by Marcellus and other shale gas formations, making it a key venue for developing this important energy source in Pennsylvania.”
Restoring DCNR’s ability to provide new natural gas leases in a safe and responsible manner will produce much needed, new revenue. This legislation only removes the Governor’s moratorium; it does not require DCNR to authorize new non-surface disturbance horizontal drilling.
This non-tax revenue option should be made available once again. It has the potential to generate significant funds for important environmental efforts without asking taxpayers to pay higher taxes.
Introduced as SB717
This legislation will setup a special fund to be managed by the Commonwealth Financing Authority (CFA). Any revenue generated from new gas leases on state forest land will be placed into this fund. The CFA will create guidelines and an application process for funding to be awarded in the following categories: