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Page added on June 29, 2009

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States Consider Gas and Oil Levies

Lawmakers, Facing Budget Deficits, See Revenue in a Tax on Production

Cash-strapped states are considering raising taxes on oil production to plug yawning budget gaps, but they face strong resistance from oil companies, which warn the moves could lead to lost jobs and higher energy prices.

Lawmakers in Pennsylvania and California have proposed what are known as severance taxes on oil and natural gas produced in their states. A tax increase took effect in Arkansas at the beginning of the year, and Alaska last year raised its oil-production tax.

Some lawmakers in Louisiana want to take the opposite tack, in a bid to attract more drilling. The state House of Representatives recently approved a package of tax cuts targeted at certain high-cost forms of oil and gas production. Democratic Rep. Nickie Monica, the lead sponsor of one measure in the package, said he hopes to give Louisiana a competitive advantage at a time when other states are raising taxes. “We’re bucking a national trend,” he said.

Mr. Monica’s bill has encountered resistance in the state Senate, however, where lawmakers are concerned about reduced tax revenue.

“Given the economy, any source of revenue is significant,” said Chuck Ardo, a spokesman for Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell.

WSJ



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