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Protection from Fracking

  • The favoritism shown to natural gas developers and the fossil fuel industry in Pennsylvania is in direct conflict with what is important to our families and communities.
  • Natural gas companies spent over $20 million in campaign contributions and lobbying in the Pennsylvania 2014 election.
  • Tax breaks given to the fossil fuel industry cost PA taxpayers about $800 each, annually--enough to pay the salary of 50,000 teachers or to repair or replace 2,000 bridges.
  • Pennsylvania is the only major gas-producing state in the country without a severance tax.
  • Legislative opposition continues against even the most basic environmental regulations on the oil and gas industry, in spite of known health impacts on pregnant women, babies and children.
  • Given the proven lack of legislative concern for public health and budget priorities that matter to us, the risks of fracking far outweigh any benefits.

The favoritism shown to natural gas developers and the fossil fuel industry in Pennsylvania is in direct conflict with what is important to our families and communities.

Natural gas companies spent over $20 million in campaign contributions and lobbying in the Pennsylvania 2014 election. For Pennsylvania candidates, this was a 50% increase over the previous election cycle. Not surprisingly...

Fossil Fuel Subsidies: $794 per taxpayer in a single year

A 2015 study finds that Pennsylvania provided more than $3.2 billion in fossil fuels subsidies during the 2012-2013 fiscal year.

That is $794 for each Pennsylvania taxpayer. That’s enough to pay 50,000 teachers, repair or replace 2,000 bridges,  put solar panels on 123,000 homes or pay tuition and board for 170,000 college students.

Nearly all of these subsidies came in the form of tax breaks. For example, oil and gas reserves and operating wells are exempt from property taxes.

No Severance Tax

A severance tax is tax on the amount of a non-renewable natural resource that is extracted. Pennsylvania is the only major gas-producing state in the country without a severance tax.

Instead, we have an "impact fee," which is one flat rate fee paid per well (no matter how much gas is pumped out of the well).

The "effective rate" takes the volume into account. It divides the revenue from the fees by the market value of the gas produced from the wells.

Last year, the state's Independent Fiscal Office found that the effective rate has steadily declined, from 5.3% in 2011 to 2.1% in 2014.

Pennsylvania has one of the lowest effective natural gas tax rates in the country.

Opposition to Basic Environmental Regulations

A new wave of recent studies demonstrate links between proximity to fracking operations and public health risks, including cardiovascular events, underweight babies, birth defects, neurological issues and overall hospital admissions. New York and Maryland already have moratoriums on fracking over concerns for public health.

Yet, our elected officials in Harrisburg continue to resist even basic regulations on oil and gas industry to ensure public health, protect public resources, address landowner concerns and improve transparency.

Our False Sense of Security

Fracking, so far, is something that happens elsewhere. Areas in the 145th district are currently under two temporary fracking moratoriums that prevent fracking from happening here. This could change at any time, putting our area at direct risk of fracking and its threat to our environment, community and public health.

Bucks and Montgomery counties sit atop the South Newark Basin shale formation. A 2012 U.S Geological Survey report found this basin to be the third largest region for untapped natural gas resources on the East Coast. It and has seen little activity yet, but is currently and quietly being studied.

The more immediate and perhaps greater risk to our area is from new natural gas infrastructure (pipelines, compressor station, power plants), especially if the Energy Hub proposed for Philadelphia is built. 

Health and Environment Risks

Recent studies indicate public health risks of living near fracking operations, including increases in cardiovascular events, neurology admissions, underweight babies and congenital heart defects.

Fracking also creates “man-made” earthquakes. This risk too, is real. Oklahoma, for example, had about two earthquakes a year before fracking. In 2015, they had 857.

And finally, yes, natural gas is cleaner burning than other fuels (like coal), meaning it gives off less carbon dioxide. However, natural gas itself is a very powerful greenhouse gas—it’s 20 times stronger than CO2—and leaks occur throughout the process. For these reasons, many scientists and researchers believe that using natural gas in place of fossil fuels may have very little real benefit to the environment.

Putting the Wellbeing and Happiness of Everyday People First

The more we learn about fracking, the more concerning it is. It is simply not worth it. The 145th is in greater peril than many of us may realize. For residents and businesses of the 145th, and all of Pennsylvania, the risks are unjustifiable. The risks of fracking far outweigh any benefits.

Legislation is needed to require full annual reporting of energy subsidies paid by PA tax payers. We want to know that when taxpayer dollars are used to subsidize energy, full priority is given to the greater good—including public health, environmental impact (air, water and climate) and costs to consumers.

Far better regulatory oversight of oil and gas operations is needed to put public health for present and future generations ahead of special interest profits and deep pockets.

The risks of fracking far outweigh any benefits, especially given the proven lack of legislative concern for public health and budget priorities that matter to us. A ban on fracking is warranted.

For more information

Fossil Fuel Subsidy Report for Pennsylvania, April 2015, (https://admin.campaignpartner.com/admin/Edit_Issue.aspx?i=547635d958664876adf9d8c050052964)

Report: Pennsylvania’s effective tax rate on drillers is declining (2015, https://stateimpact.npr.org/pennsylvania/2015/02/26/report-pennsylvanias-effective-tax-rate-on-drillers-is-declining/)

DCNR quietly begins gas drilling study in Bucks, Montgomery Counties (2013, for full story, see https://stateimpact.npr.org/pennsylvania/2013/10/02/report-dcnr-quietly-begins-gas-drilling-study-in-bucks-montgomery-counties/)

Pennsylvania commissions study on South Newark Basin shale formation
(2013, for full story, http://www.pennenergy.com/articles/pennenergy/2013/10/pennsylvania-commissions-study-on-south-newark-basin-shale-formation.html)

Philadelphia “energy hub” proponents plan to counter rural pipeline opposition (2015, for full story, https://stateimpact.npr.org/pennsylvania/2015/11/05/philadelphia-energy-hub-proponents-plan-to-counter-rural-pipeline-opposition/)

Pa. studies link fracking with health problems (2015, for full story, http://www.philly.com/philly/health/20150116_Pa__studies_link_fracking_with_health_problems.html)

Oklahoma takes action on fracking-related earthquakes—but too late, critics say (2016, for full story,http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-sej-oklahoma-quakes-fracking-20160302-story.html)

Methane leaks across US pose a much greater threat than Aliso Canyon (2016, for full story, http://www.theguardian.com/vital-signs/2016/mar/02/methane-leaks-aliso-canyon-ghg-epa-edf-environmen-climate-change-gas)

How Gas Drillers Rented Pennsylvania’s Government (2016, for full story, http://www.commoncause.org/states/pennsylvania/research-and-reports/marcellus-money-report-2015.pdf)


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