Ohio Should Raise Severance Tax on Shale Gas
If Ohio levied a severance tax on oil and gas at rates similar to neighboring states, it could generate up to $538 million in new revenues between now and 2015. These funds would help with the up-front, public costs of the anticipated drilling and lay the groundwork for a strengthened economic future. In a paper released on Dec. 19, Beyond the Boom: Ensuring adequate payment for mineral wealth extraction, Policy Matters Ohio recommends that the state raise its severance tax on oil and gas to 5 percent of value, equal to the rates in West Virginia and Michigan.
“Ohio’s severance tax is one of the lowest among states with potential to produce oil and gas from shale,” said Wendy Patton, author of the new report and senior project director at Policy Matters. “Part of preparation for the coming boom should include raising the severance tax rate to a level consistent with other energy states.”
States with significant reserves of natural shale gas include Texas, with a severance tax rate of 7.5 percent; Oklahoma, 7 percent, and Arkansas, Michigan and West Virginia, 5 percent. Louisiana has a rate on volume of gas produced of $.16 per thousand cubic feet (mcf). Pennsylvania currently has no severance tax, but is considering one.
Ohio’s rate on volume of gas produced is $.025 per mcf (with an additional $.005 for conservation). The effective severance tax rate on natural gas over the past decade has been less than half of 1 percent. The situation for oil is similar, with Ohio’s rate of $.10 per barrel, (with a matching conservation fee) at the low end among states with a severance tax on oil and an average effective severance tax rate over the past decade of less than one fifth of 1 percent of value.
States with high production of minerals use the severance tax to compensate for depletion of natural resources. The revenues strengthen and stabilize public services that build the economy of the future, including schools and higher education. The tax is deductible from federal taxes, which softens the impact on producers. Ohio ranks 25th in severance tax collections among the 35 states that collect such a tax, yet 19th in production of natural gas and 17th in oil production.
Horizontal drilling and hydrofracturing (‘fracking’) are expected to significantly boost drilling in Ohio. Fracking, which uses millions of gallons of water laced with chemicals and other additives, is exempt from the federal regulations, yet is suspected of pollution in watersheds and aquifers. Costs associated with increased drilling activity as well as with pollution may impact state and local finances, while the level of benefits predicted by the industry may not materialize. The so-called ‘natural resources curse’ of places rich in minerals but with low in per-capita income—from West Virginia and Louisiana to Nigeria—warns of trouble beyond the boom.
“Many mineral-rich states dedicate their severance tax collections to trust funds that finance services during drilling and strengthen the state once minerals are depleted,” said Patton. “The severance tax is how energy states ensure impacted communities are protected and wealth invested to create a better future for all residents.”
For more information and to read the full report, click here.
Could mouthwash help stop the spread of the new coronavirus?
- How to Stop Touching Your Face to Minimize Spread of Coronavirus ... ›
- Vodka Won't Protect You From Coronavirus, and 4 Other Things to ... ›
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Naomi Larsson
For centuries, the delicate silver dove has been a symbol of love and fidelity.
Biodiversity and Habitat Loss<p>Their near extinction is a symbol of the <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/global-biodiversity-outlook-targets-extinction-summit-new-york-pledge/a-54932895" target="_blank">biodiversity crisis</a> in the UK, largely driven by habitat destruction. Britain is now one of the countries with the most <a href="https://www.wwf.org.uk/future-of-UK-nature#:~:text=The%20UK%20is%20one%20of,than%20half%20are%20in%20decline" target="_blank">depleted nature</a> in the world according to the World Wildlife Fund. Half its plant and animal species are in decline and more than <a href="https://www.rspb.org.uk/about-the-rspb/about-us/media-centre/press-releases/let-nature-sing-wales/#:~:text=a%20natural%20tragedy.-,Over%2040%20million%20birds%20have%20vanished%20from%20UK%20skies%20in,unaware%20of%20the%20impending%20danger" target="_blank">40 million birds</a> have vanished in just half a century.</p><p>"[Turtle doves] are the canary in the [coal] mine because there are all these other species before it and after it," said Tree. "It's an umbrella for all the other species that are heading that way."</p><p>Turtle doves migrate south through Europe to sub-Saharan Africa between July and September, ending up in dry woodland and farmland areas of countries like Mali and Senegal for winter. </p><p>Droughts in West Africa and the Sahel region are believed to have contributed to the fall in turtle dove species recorded in northern Europe, with low rainfall reducing supplies of the seeds and insects the birds rely on for energy for the long journey home.</p>
Conservation and Farming<p><a href="https://www.operationturtledove.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Operation Turtle Dove,</a> a partnership project of charities including the Essex Wildlife trust, works with landowners and farmers to actively build turtle dove habitat.</p><p>Outten works with <a href="https://www.ebws.org.uk/birdsites/blue-house-farm-ewt-north-fambridge" target="_blank">Blue House Farm</a>, a 660-acre nature reserve in the UK county of Essex, where they have replicated weedy fallow plots. </p><p>"We work on it every year to make sure it's in the condition it needs to be with plants such as clovers and black medic," Outten said. "These plants are native to the landscape and produce the seed the birds feed on." </p><p>The birds eat a wide range of seeds from various plants that would have been abundant 50 or 100 years ago, added Guy Anderson, program manager for species recovery with The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB). </p><p>"But it's simply true that with the gradual process of <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/farming-without-pesticides-how-can-we-make-agriculture-greener/a-52216796" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">intensifying our agricultural production</a>, the availability of those seeds has dropped and dropped," said Anderson.</p><p>Part of the project includes supplementary feeding — providing sources of food in the form of seed or grain. Under the Countryside Stewardship Scheme in England, farmers can receive financial support to create a turtle dove habitat. </p><p>Though they haven't recorded an increase in doves across the sites in the four years of working on the project, Outten said they are seeing improvements in how landowners and farmers manage habitat for the birds. </p>
A Turtle Dove Haven<p>The 3,500-acre Knepp Estate in West Sussex is another project taking a different approach and one of the few places where turtle dove numbers are increasing.</p><p>Isabella Tree and her husband Charlie Burrell converted their intensively farmed land into a rewilding project almost 20 years ago. They have let the land return to nature.</p><p>Just one year after they'd finished <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/uks-most-talented-architects-are-not-human/a-35952128" target="_blank">rewilding</a> the southern part of their property, they heard turtle doves for the first time. It's now a breeding hotspot for the birds with an estimated 19 pairs. Knepp is also home to <a href="https://www.rewildingbritain.org.uk/rewilding/rewilding-projects/knepp-estate" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">2% of the UK's population</a> of nightingales. </p><p>Tree is critical of supplementary feeding schemes that, in her view, are short term. She questions the chances of turtle doves getting to feed on scattered seeds before other mammals eat them first.</p>
- 41% of UK Species Have Declined Since 1970, Major Report Finds ... ›
- One in Eight Bird Species Threatened With Extinction, Study Finds ... ›
- Pesticides to Blame for UK's Declining Turtle Dove Population ... ›
We pet owners know how much you love your pooch. It's your best friend. It gives you pure happiness and comfort when you're together. But there are times that dogs can be very challenging, especially if they are suffering from a certain ailment. As a dog owner, all you want to do is ease whatever pain or discomfort your best friend is feeling.
Life-sized, ultra-realistic robotic dolphins could help end animal captivity by replacing living creatures in aquariums and theme parks.
- Keeping Large Mammals Captive Damages Their Brains - EcoWatch ›
- Scientists Combine AI With Biology to Create Xenobots, the World's ... ›
- Singapore Uses 'Scary' Robot Dog to Enforce Social Distancing ... ›
By Jessica Corbett
Green groups applauded Sen. Jeff Merkley on Wednesday for introducing a pioneering pair of bills that aim to "protect the long-term health and well-being of the American people and their economy from the catastrophic effects of climate chaos" by preventing banks and international financial institutions from financing fossil fuels.