HB 1102 could cost us more than tax dollars

Posted Oct 22, 2019, by Ethan Story

Legislators are making a push to promote monumental oil and gas development bills here in Pennsylvania. Recently House Bill (“HB”) 1102 was voted through Committee and will soon be introduced to the floor for a final vote. This bill proposes major environmental issues such as placing those without the means to fight environmental injustice on the front lines of harmful pollution. HB 1102 also takes advantage of the state’s taxpayers, all at the expense of the Commonwealth’s natural resources.

HB 1102, or the Keystone Energy Enhancement Act, creates a seven-member Keystone Energy Authority (“Authority”). The Authority’s mission is to locate, design, and subsidize natural gas and related manufacturing industries in the state, including the vastly contented petrochemical industries. All seven members of the board will be politically appointed by people in various political positions. Each member must have at least ten years’ experience in a manufacturing business, petrochemical business, or a downstream business relating to petrochemical or natural gas use. In short, the Authority will be comprised entirely of those who come from the oil and gas industry, to help promote and develop the oil and gas industry.

HB 1102 gives the Authority vast power to develop oil and gas infrastructure in the Commonwealth. The Authority will review applications to develop on land that they believe to be “deteriorated property.” Deteriorated property under the bill is defined as “[a]ny blighted, impoverished area containing residential, industrial, commercial or other real property that is abandoned, unsafe, vacant, undervalued, underutilized, overgrown, defective, condemned, demolished or that contains economically undesirable land use.” This language is laser-focused to single out environmental justice communities. These are communities who have been the victim of many past injustices and could bear the brunt of yet another round of health damaging pollution.

HB 1102 also provides massive subsidies to the natural gas and petrochemical industries. HB 1102 would grant industry a 10-year tax exemption from ALL local taxes, state sales tax, and personal income taxes. This is an addition to the $2.9 billion a year subsidy that Pennsylvania is already giving to the fossil fuels industry. What HB 1102 does not require is that the developer create long-term or short-term jobs: The oil and gas industry could develop completely tax-free while installing machines that digitize what were manual jobs.

Lastly, HB 1102 leaves the question on the table of how the state will make up the lost revenue to such an egregious handout. The state will be left developing the roads, power lines, water and sewer lines, providing education for families, yet collecting nothing from the company in tax dollars. Therefore, this bill is fiscally irresponsible and will hurt the pocketbooks of those who are left to pay the bill.

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  • Ethan Story

    Ethan comes to CCJ with a J.D. and a Master of Environmental Law and Policy from Vermont Law School. While attending Vermont Law School, Ethan worked as a Research Associate with the Water and Justice Program. In this role, he worked with diverse stakeholders to help protect their access to reliable, clean water. Ethan also interned with the PA Department of Environmental Protection and Pennsylvania Environmental Council, where he worked on issues ranging from coal and oil and gas development to water treatment facilities. He has been published on the subjects of public trust, water rights, and other environmental issues. When he is not at work, he spends time with his family, running, and fly fishing one of PA’s many beautiful rivers. Contact Ethan at ethan@centerforcoalfieldjustice.org.

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