The April 21 opinion piece by Pennsylvania state Sen. Joe Scarnati - "Marcellus legislation working" - cannot go without a response.
Opinions are like noses: We all have one, but some smell better than others. And when you pull back the first few layers of the state's new Marcellus Shale law (Act 13), it smells pretty bad.
The senator's predictions that all of our problems in Pennsylvania will be solved after a few years with this new law aren't based in reality. The woefully inadequate tax rate won't provide nearly enough money to solve the infrastructure problems caused by the drilling industry, let alone properly fund important environmental programs that have been cut through various budget maneuvers.
It's truly a shame that the best "compromise" that could be reached by Gov. Tom Corbett resulted in a "fee" on these wealthy big oil and gas companies that is less than what is paid by the average Pennsylvania taxpayer who pays the state's 3.07 percent Personal Income Tax.
This embarrassingly low effective tax rate is among the lowest of any natural gas-producing state in the nation. The rate in the law signed by Gov. Tom Corbett is lower than Texas, Oklahoma, West Virginia, Colorado, Wyoming and virtually every other state.
This industry doesn't need a tax break; Pennsylvania's homeowners and workers need a tax break!
As Pennsylvania moves forward, history will determine whether Act 13 is a success or failure. Meantime, I'm committed to implementing a stronger Marcellus Shale law that puts the interests of Pennsylvania taxpayers, workers and families first, unlike the current law, which is Gov. Corbett's sweetheart deal for the multi-billion-dollar oil and gas industry.
That is why my colleagues and I have introduced the Marcellus Compact, which has four main components:
r Restoring the rights of municipalities to determine how best to regulate drilling activities in their communities;
r Ensuring the oil and gas industry properly supports Pennsylvania - by paying its fair share of taxes and by hiring Pennsylvania workers;
r Establishing stronger protections for our water, land and air;
r Improving transparency and public accountability in Marcellus Shale drilling activities.
More details about the Marcellus Compact can be found at www.pahouse.com.
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Mike Hanna represents the 76th District in Clinton and Centre counties and serves as Democratic whip in the state House of Representatives. He can be reached at his main service office, 29 Bellefonte Ave., Lock Haven, or by calling 570-748-5480.