DRILL BABY DRILL?
Drilling of natural gas has become a huge issue in the Marcellus Shale beds, especially so in portions of the upper Delaware River Basin in PA and NY.
Oil and gas companies from around the country are flocking to Pennsylvania to tap into the Marcellus Shale to extract natural gas. The Department of Environmental Protection issued a record 7,792 gas drilling permits in 2008.
In 39 other states where natural gas extraction occurs regularly, developers pay a small tax on the natural gas extracted. A similar tax has been proposed for Pennsylvania that could generate more than $100 million for Pennsylvania next year, and over $600 million by 2013.
The PA legislature has an opportunity to offset the impacts of natural gas drilling by reinvesting drilling revenues into our natural resources. Implementing a severance tax, with a portion of the funds going to the environmental stewardship fund and the PA Fish & Boat Commission and the PA Game Commissions, will hold those directly profiting from drilling responsible for paying the actual costs of drilling. These revenues could be used for watershed protection, habitat conservation and ecological restoration, public access to outdoor recreation, and open space preservation.
ProPublica has an excellent piece on this issue as its being played out in congress. Dick Cheney (anyone surprised?) played a prominent role in making sure gas drilling and mountaintop mining are not subject to the federal Clean Water Act.