It’s time for some common sense on natural gas, says this Franklin Township, Susquehanna County landowner who lives amidst considerable drilling activity.
I’m just an 81 year old widower trying to leave something for his kids, grand kids and great grand kids. I have lived on my 25 acres of Pennsylvania Heaven since 1988. The mountain top behind my home is even called Gods Knob, so I have been told. I took 25 acres of an old dairy farm that had not been worked since 1964 and improved it. I improved it so much that the property tax went from less than $600 a year to almost $6,000. For that privilege I have paid almost $150,000 in school, county and township tax. Its time that I receive a return on my investment. It’s time for some common sense on natural gas.
Harvesting Our Natural Gas Is Common Sense
That return on investment is trapped 8,000 feet under my land in the form of natural gas in the Marcellus Shale formation. I have also been told that below that is a second shale called the Utica. But, how much of the Utica Shale is below my land I don’t know. I’ll leave that for a geologist. Because of our natural gas glut here, the price of natural gas has dropped from about $8.00 per thousand cubic feet to less than $4.00. So, every gas heating home in America has saved hundreds of dollars a year to heat their homes from our natural gas product.
As I drive around Susquehanna County where I reside (see photo), I’m amazed at its beauty. My drives are mainly in a 4-township area. There are, in that area, are over 174 producing natural gas wells, but you would not know it. Best of all, those wells are producing royalties that landowners are finally using to help raise their children and pay their bills.
Just like beef, dairy and vegetable farmers, we have a product to sell. That product is home grown natural gas. And, because of it, our air is cleaner. Cars and trucks are being converted to clean burning natural gas. We are importing less oil because of that and converting power plants to natural gas from oil. We will also soon become an exporter of our natural gas product.
Natural gas under my land will allow me to get back some of the $150,000 I paid in taxes for keeping my land “clean and green.” It’s also part of an Agricultural Security Area, is a Pennsylvania Forest Stewardship property and a National Wildlife Federation Back Yard Habitat.
Opponents claim fracking has ruined our water supply but that is not true. Water has burned here for over 300 years, long before fracking, because we are either lucky or unlucky to live on 515 trillion cubic feet of gas bubble. Now, fracking allows us to several good things. It lowers the price of natural gas for 310 million people. It weans us from the higher and higher prices of gasoline and oil. It weans us from using the coal that poisons our air.
Some Common Sense on Shale Gas, As I See It
There’s more, though, and this is how I look at drilling for natural gas. It’s a win win for everyone. Driller, landowners,business owners and natural gas users – all are winners. Consider these facts about natural gas companies and the industry as a whole:
- They create jobs and pay workers that pay income tax.
- They pay registration fees for vehicles.
- They pay motor fuels taxes.
- They pay for a permits to withdraw water (regenerated when gas is burned).
- They pay for storm water permits for well pads.
- They pay for well drilling permits.
- They pay lease bonuses to landowners.
- They pay royalties to landowners.
- They pay corporate income taxes to the Commonwealth.
- They pay corporate income taxes to the Federal government.
- Landowners pay state tax on royalty income.
- Landowners pay state taxes on lease income.
- Landowners pay Federal taxes on royalty income.
- Landowners pay Federal taxes on lease income.
- Gas companies spend hundred of millions of dollars to upgrade roads they use (something the state gets 41.8 cents a gallon to do).
- Gas companies pay hundreds of millions of dollars in impact fees that go the every county in Commonwealth.
Now, some politicians say they want an extraction tax even though they already collect all those impact and other fees and taxes. This tax, of course, will be paid by consumers and landowners on to whom it gets passed, but you wouldn’t know it from the television commercials.
What will they think of next as a way to squander what natural gas has given us and is still giving us? It’s time for a lot more common sense on natural gas.
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