By: Peter M. Duncan
Reuters released the results of a Quinnipiac University poll of 1,640 registered New York State voters last week, indicating that the economic benefits of drilling for natural gas in the Marcellus Shale are more desirable than the threat of its perceived environmental impact.
The same poll also reported that almost 60 percent of voters say there should be a new tax on drilling companies. Pennsylvanians also support the same tax in a poll from April (also conducted by Quinnipiac). Interestingly today, results were released from Platts that show the Marcellus Shale output is up 22% from the same time last year.
“Drill for the jobs, New Yorkers say, even though they’re worried about the environmental effects of hydrofracking,” said Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. “And while we’re drilling for natural gas, let’s tax those drilling companies.”
It’s hard for me to digest this seemingly at-odds way of thinking. It seems as if concerned citizens of both New York and Pennsylvania want to proverbially have their cake and eat it too. On the one hand everyone agrees that jobs are good and the both the Marcellus and Utica shale plays offer tremendous opportunity for employment and thus economic growth, not to mention the increased tax revenue from lease holders as well as jobs for tax-paying citizens.
On the other hand sits the little devil, telling everyone to listen to the media, listen to the hype, don’t believe the seismic science behind fracing and monitoring that makes it a viable, safe technology. And so we should tax oil companies-that will ease of conscious and even out our concerns of environmental hazards.
I’m here to tell you that you cannot have it both ways. Continue to tax oil companies and you reduce profitability. Reduce profits and the cost of gasoline goes up. Tax the oil companies and reduce their ability to hire and to pay their employees well. Tax oil companies and their threshold to give back to the communities they’re in goes down. (Just last month Chesapeake was forced to rescind a $30,000 gift to Wellsburg, WV band students when their city council opted to ban drilling in the county.)
Anyone who hopes that their economy (and the global economy to boot) might benefit from shale drilling, even in the smallest way must choose-choose to support drilling and the economic benefits it is proven to bring. It’s time to get off the fence and do what makes sense.