(HARRISBURG, PA)—The Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) today issued the following statement from Pennsylvania Assistant Executive Director Lee Ann Murray, explaining its conditional support of a severance tax on natural gas extraction in the Commonwealth.
"As legislators and Governor Wolf continue to negotiate the 2015-16 budget, now almost four weeks beyond the deadline, CBF would like to express its support for a reasonable severance tax on natural gas extraction, with modifications, if one is passed. Governor Wolf proposes that severance tax revenue be dedicated to education. CBF believes a portion of the proceeds from natural gas drilling should be used to reduce water pollution and restore Pennsylvania's rivers and streams.
"Rep. Kevin Schreiber (D-York) said that a deal on a severance tax could be a 'watershed moment,' for moving the spending plan forward. CBF hopes such a deal is the moment in time that provides the funding to get Pennsylvania and the entire Chesapeake Bay watershed back on track to achieving their clean water commitments.
"Pennsylvania is significantly off-track to reaching its goals to reduce pollution from nitrogen and sediment runoff, particularly from agriculture.
"The Commonwealth must accelerate progress if it is to have 60 percent of the pollution reduction practices in place by 2017 and 100 percent by 2025 as it committed to in its Clean Water Blueprint. To do that, Pennsylvania must make a greater investment of financial and technical resources, so that farmers and municipalities can implement conservation practices that reduce pollution, and state agencies can ensure compliance. Revenue from a new natural gas severance tax can help accomplish that.
"CBF supports portions of the Governor's budget that already propose to increase funding for renewable energy initiatives and for state agencies such as the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). The DEP is on the frontlines of farm inspections and for fostering the culture of compliance that Pennsylvania sorely needs.
"Dedicating a portion of a new natural gas severance tax toward cleaning up our polluted waterways improves and protects the health and economic well-being of every Pennsylvanian. Achieving pollution reduction goals would result in an additional $6 billion annually to Pennsylvania's economy.
"Ensuring that future generations have clean water is a legacy worth leaving."