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Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Three wrongs don't make a right

This story from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports on a talk given by Pennsylvania Lieutenant Governor James Cawley, standing in for his boss, at PIOGA’s Eastern Oil & Gas conference.

The talk contained two bits of very bad news and a straw man.  
The Lieutenant Governor said that his boss will soon announce the impending leasing of more state forest land and - for the first time ever - state park land for oil and gas development. He will also propose some “legislative fixes” to the state Supreme Court’s ruling on Act 13.
The story goes on to say that:
Mr. Cawley also used the pulpit [appropriate when preaching to the choirto rail against proposals by Democratic gubernatorial candidates to levy a severance tax on the oil and gas industry, his delivery escalating in volume and frustration.
 Enter the straw man, in defense of the Keystone State’s anemic impact fee:
“When anyone looks at one particular industry and says, ’ah, we should tax them because they’re successful and they create jobs,’” he said, “the true meaning of what it is they’re saying is you should be penalized for being successful. And that’s wrong.”
Cawley’s argument is laughable on its face, but here are three things in Pennsylvania that actually are wrong.
Burning the furniture to heat the house - leasing state parks and more state forest land for gas development to raise money for the state budget - is wrong.
“Fixing” a decision that for the first time upheld the environmental rights guaranteed to every Pennsylvanian by the state Constitution - so that the gas industry can continue to have its way with Pennsylvania - is wrong. 
And excusing the natgas industry from paying a tax that they pay in every other state in which they do business - is wrong. 

Each of these three wrongs can be righted by the General Assembly. What will they do? And what will their bosses - the citizens of Pennsylvania - demand? The answers to those questions will say a lot about our state's future.

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