Pennsylvania needs strong regulatory and competitive tax frameworks that encourage capital investment and job creation — not a massive, misguided and unprecedented tax that would drive critical capital and jobs to other energy-producing states and countries. This would dramatically undercut efforts that are helping to lower energy costs for Pennsylvania consumers, increase energy security for Americans and bring cleaner fuels to our environment.
I recognize the rhetoric. It's the dreaded brain drain boondoggle. Ye who doth tax too much, shall be cursed with exodus. Undoubtedly, that will scare voters and politicians alike.
While I'm not impressed with the environmental arguments against shale gas drilling, the Marcellus Shale Coalition is dealing from a position of weakness. Via Null Space, the jobs evidence isn't compelling:
A [map] on the deli wall is dotted with colored push pins, showing all the different places where the gas men have come from, places like Texas and Arkansas. And although Lockhart is proud to show off the map, it illustrates one of the criticisms held by drilling opponents that many skilled jobs go to workers from out of state.
I'm already convinced that the most of the good jobs are going to workers from other states. Stories about booked hotels and motels abound. I know many people who work in the energy industry. Long spells away from home are normal. I've spoken with fellow airplane passengers travelling between Denver and Pittsburgh. The itinerant labor flow is obvious.
Yet the Marcellus Shale Coalition continues to spin. The website for Marcellus Shale jobs is a public relations disaster. Living in PA and looking for work? You are provided with a list of links to companies involved in shale gas drilling. If employment were Pennsylvania-based, then I can assure you that the Marcellus Shale Coalition would make that obvious on its jobs board. It doesn't and you can dismiss their campaign.
The threat is that all the jobs will go to West Virginia, or even to Russia. The latter is ridiculous. The geopolitics described would fail an undergraduate course in political geography:
Poland, China, Canada and other foreign nations are working aggressively to secure the capital needed to expand their energy production, too. There’s a reason officials at the Kremlin read news clips from the Marcellus region every morning — and it’s not because they’re looking for coupons.It’s no secret that our elected officials in Harrisburg are considering a new tax on shale gas production. Unfortunately, some don’t seem to understand that global competition for capital will react to the magnitude of the tax, evidenced by their consideration of a tax that would be the nation’s highest and least competitive.
Kudos for trying to make a sophisticated international political economic argument in a newspaper op-ed. Kathryn Klaber, you receive an "F" for execution. Natural gas companies are flailing. How will gas drilled Poland affect the market in New York City? How will gas drilled in West Virginia get to the market in New York City? Pennsylvania holds all the cards. Klaber is bluffing (poorly).