|Harrisburg – The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission repeated the need today to pass a Marcellus shale severance tax and dedicate a portion of its revenues to make sure that natural gas is developed with as little impact as possible to fish, reptiles, amphibians, and other aquatic organisms and the habitats upon which they depend.
The Commission wants to help the industry protect Pennsylvania waters and habitats and comply with the environmental laws that the General Assembly promulgates. Executive Director John Arway said, “We understand the realities of today’s natural gas rush and recognize the importance of Marcellus gas to fueling our national energy needs; however, this cannot be at the expense of our natural resources, since we have lived the story and have seen what happened to our waters when Pennsylvania coal was extracted from our mountains almost a century ago. We cannot, in good conscience, let that happen again.”
Unfortunately, the Commission does not have the resources (staff and funding) to adequately and proactively assist the industry, the Department of Environmental Protection, the Delaware and Susquehanna River Basin Commissions, and other agencies with addressing Marcellus development. Mr. Arway went on to point out that, “Many people do not realize that the Commission relies almost entirely on fishing license sales, boat registrations, and federal funding tied to fishing and boating to support everything we do, including trying to keep pace and stay ahead of the curve on the current and projected impacts of energy development to fishing, boating, and the resources we are entrusted to protect.”
If the Commission received a portion of a severance tax, it could take a collaborative approach with the industry and other agencies to review, advise, and consult in the field to ensure aquatic resources are protected as well sites and associated infrastructure are built and maintained. Mr. Arway observed, “I truly believe that the public expect that service from us, and the resources under our jurisdiction depend upon it to survive.”
A link to Mr. Arway’s recent testimony to the House of Representatives Finance Committee explaining the Commission’s role with Marcellus shale and the need for dedicated severance tax revenues may be found on the front page of the Commission’s website at www.fishandboat.com.
The mission of the Fish and Boat Commission is to protect, conserve, and enhance the Commonwealth’s aquatic resources and provide fishing and boating opportunities. For more information about fishing and boating in Pennsylvania, please visit www.fishandboat.com.