Pennsylvania State Senators Doug Mastriano (R-Chambersburg) and Scott Hutchinson (R-Oil City) last week proposed a measure to lighten the tax and regulatory burden for fossil-fuel producers.
Their legislation, entitled the PA Energy Independence Act, would immediately pause income taxation for natural-gas developers, reduce state gas-extraction fees by 200 percent and end Governor Tom Wolf’s (D) moratorium on new state-land leases for fossil-fuel drilling. It would also suspend the state’s participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), which would amount to a tax on carbon emissions.
The bill would furthermore exempt the state from certain Environmental Protection Agency regulations concerning air and wastewater and would stipulate that any regulation of natural gas or coal that was produced in the Keystone State would be subject solely to state and not federal regulation. Another component of the act would expedite the permit process for the natural-gas and coal industries.
Mastriano and Hutchinson cited the Russia-Ukraine conflict and its exacerbation of fuel-price inflation as the main impetus for their measure.
“Russia’s barbaric invasion of Ukraine has been fueled in large part by new oil and gas revenue that went into the coffers of the Russian government, allowing them to spend it on weapons and other military equipment over several years,” the senators wrote in a statement on their bill. “The war, sanctions and the international effects on energy prices have reminded us of the importance of cultivating our own domestic resources.”
The lawmakers said that their legislation is all the more crucial insofar as the energy market is likely to remain volatile for quite some time.
“With our abundant resources, Pennsylvania should be largely immune to energy cost volatility. Cumbersome taxes, regulations and restrictions are handicapping the potential of our energy sector. Many companies simply choose to invest in more energy friendly states like Texas and West Virginia.”
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Bradley Vasoli is managing editor of The Pennsylvania Daily Star. Follow Brad on Twitter at @BVasoli. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Doug Mastriano” by Senator Doug Mastriano and photo “Scott Hutchinson” by Senator Scott Hutchinson.