Another Rite of Spring in Washington, New Energy Tax Proposals

Signs of spring in Pennsylvania are all around us. It is a season of change and growth. However, these signs of change have been ignored in Washington, where the metaphorical windows stay locked and thoughts remain unchanged.
Many politicians continue to make inaccurate blanket statements about the energy industry.

They say the industry needs to “pay [its] fair share” or “contribute more to society”. The same conversation perpetuates even though the oil and gas sector already contributes more than $86 million to the Federal Treasury every day.

In fact, according to the site, the oil and gas industry supports 9.2 million American jobs.

Here in Pennsylvania, the Department of Labor and Industry’s just-released April Marcellus Shale Fast Facts reports that jobs created directly, indirectly or induced by Marcellus Shale exploration totals more than more than 245,000 jobs. These jobs and related economic activity contribute billions to our economy.

However, those state numbers are sure to decline should the will of some in Congress to impose new taxes on American energy companies come to fruition.

The specific approach these politicians want to take is to change current tax rules, which were actually written to incentivize American manufacturers, like oil and gas producers, to create more American jobs. Instead of supporting this flourishing and rapidly expanding industry in Pennsylvania, politicians would be simply punishing the energy sector by passing legislation that imposes additional taxes on oil and gas companies.

No matter how you look at it, raising taxes on energy means raising taxes on every American. This means small businesses and hardworking taxpayers in Pennsylvania and across the country will be paying more money for everyday goods and services.

Each time Congress or the state Legislature passes a new fee or tax it impacts the cost of energy and the cost of doing business.

Increasing taxes on American energy will result in fewer jobs, less investment and a slower growing economy. This point is especially germane for a major natural gas producing state like Pennsylvania where energy taxes have already been increased via “fees.” Now more than ever it seems unthinkable that Pennsylvanians may also have to endure increased taxes from the federal government. It would be another body blow to our business community and families.

All citizens feel the impact when energy prices—something that touches every American’s life—are pushed higher by burdensome new taxes?

As many of us already know, raiding the assets of the American energy industry is the completely wrong approach to improving our economy. Some experts even believe that changing the tax code to increase energy taxes, as President Obama and other politicians in Washington have suggested, would result in 155,000 lost jobs and $341 billion in lost economic output.

Each time Congress or the state Legislature passes a new fee or tax it impacts the cost of energy and the cost of doing business.

With our abundant shale gas reserves, Pennsylvanians understand the important contributions the oil and gas industry deliver to the state, and the importance of affordable energy. New federal energy tax proposals simply go too far and must be rejected. They will drag down our economy, kill jobs and make every transaction in our daily lives a little more expensive.

It is time for Congress to turn over a new leaf and realize the true economic impact of their potential actions.

Jim Broussard is the chairman of Citizens Against Higher Taxes and a history professor at Lebanon Valley College.

The views expressed here are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Susquehanna Valley Center.

Nothing contained here should be considered as an attempt to aid or hinder the passage of any legislation.