COLUMBUS -- State Representatives Jay Hottinger (R-Newark) and Al Landis (R-Dover) are calling for impacted counties from Ohio's burgeoning oil and gas industry to receive greater assistance from a proposed severance tax that is being debated in the Ohio legislature.
The state legislature is currently debating HB 375 which is a severance tax on the oil and gas companies that are drilling in eastern Ohio in the Marcellus and Utica shale fields. The bill is projected to generate nearly $2 billion over a ten year period.
"Whatever we do we need to make certain that we are incentivizing and not dis-incentivizing the industry to continue to drill and invest here," said Hottinger. "It is essential that we allow for Ohio to play a leading and pivotal role in our country's energy production."
The Tuscarawas County representative, Landis added, "As the legislature debates what is an appropriate level of support for the industry to pay - it is crucial that the needs and impacts upon eastern Ohio are an important part of that discussion."
The bill as introduced would spend some of the revenue collected to address the needs of nearly 10,000 orphaned wells throughout the state and to support the regulatory activities in the energy industry. A significant balance of the money generated would go towards a state income tax reduction for all Ohioans through the Income Tax Reduction Fund.
"If an additional $2 billion will be generated, I support a tax reduction that will benefit all Ohioans, but feel that the counties that are impacted most should have additional assistance," said Landis.
"Counties that are contributing and who are most impacted by the drilling absolutely should see additional help from any revenue that is levied on the industry," said Hottinger.
Landis and Hottinger are pushing for consideration that a portion of the revenue collected be set aside for the eastern Ohio counties who are producing in this important energy play.
They site the example of how revenues generated by the newly created bonding program against the Ohio Turnpike are set aside for northern Ohio, where the Ohio Turnpike resides, as an example to follow.
The legislators would like the revenue from the severance tax to be set aside for infrastructure and other impacts on the local governments in the contributing counties.
"Bottom line is that clearly the impacted counties should benefit the most from any revenues generated," said Hottinger.