Poll: Broad support for Wolf’s plan to tax Pa. gas drillers to pay for infrastructure upgrades

A shale gas drilling rig in Washington, Pa. (Michael Rubinkam/AP Photo)

A shale gas drilling rig in Washington, Pa. (Michael Rubinkam/AP Photo)

This article originally appeared on StateImpact.

A new poll from Franklin and Marshall College finds widespread support among Pennsylvania voters for Governor Tom Wolf’s plan to pay for infrastructure upgrades by taxing natural gas drilling companies.

The poll shows more than two-thirds of respondents either “strongly” or “somewhat” favor Wolf’s Restore PA plan.

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The proposal calls for $4.5 billion in infrastructure initiatives over four years, funded by a severance tax on natural gas — a tax paid based on how much gas is produced from wells. It would target things like mitigating flooding, addressing blight and expanding broadband access.

Berwood Yost directs the Center for Opinion Research at Franklin and Marshall, and says the support goes across different demographic and ideological groups.

“I’m not really surprised,” he said. “Given that we’re marrying two topics together things we generally know people support—infrastructure improvements and natural gas taxes.”

Wolf spokesman J.J. Abbott said the poll is a validation of the broad support behind the governor’s plan.

“Every other major gas producing state requires industry to pay for the right to remove this precious natural resource,” Abbott said in an email. “These other states reinvest this money to fix infrastructure, to provide services to their citizens, and to spur economic development. Investing revenue from a commonsense severance tax in projects to spur our economy forward simply makes sense.”

A spokesman for the gas industry trade group, the Marcellus Shale Coalition, declined to comment on the poll results, but pointed out that the gas impact fees drillers pay on a per-well basis have brought in over a billion dollars since they were enacted in 2012.

The poll is based on interviews conducted online and over the phone with 627 registered Pennsylvania voters between July 29 and August 4, 2019. The margin of error is plus or minus 6 percent.

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