Turzai, union meet, criticize Wolf's severance-tax plan

The Laborers’ International Union of North America-Mid-Atlantic Region (LiUNA) met with state Speaker of the House Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny) on Tuesday at the union’s training facility in Saxonburg to discuss Pennsylvania's shale industry and Gov. Tom Wolf’s natural gas severance-tax proposal.

LiUNA Vice President and Mid-Atlantic Regional Manager Dennis Martire spoke about the union’s commitment to the shale industry and the need for supportive government policy. “Only sound policies from our government leaders will encourage the industry to continue to invest and produce at consistent levels that are vital to local communities in the creation of long-term, middle-class job opportunities,” Martire said.

The governor’s $33.8 billion budget proposal would rely heavily on new revenue from the severance tax. The plan was examined thoroughly during three weeks of testimony before the House Appropriations Committee earlier this year, and discussions are expected to continue later this spring.

“If you excessively tax the shale industry, you risk hurting employers, workers and communities across this state," Martire said. "We need to adequately study the employment impacts of any proposed policy or regulation that could have a negative impact on shale industry jobs in Pennsylvania.”

Turzai told participants that the governor’s stance on a severance tax is “punitive in nature" and that Wolf’s approach would “severely hurt hard-working Pennsylvania laborers, negatively impact family-sustaining jobs, and shut down production and downstream benefits for all Pennsylvanians."

In 2012, LiUNA members worked 5.7 million hours on large-scale pipeline jobs related to natural gas development in Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

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