Lt. Gov. Cawley says oil and gas industry taxed enough

More non-surface oil and gas development in the state forest is likely to be announced soon, Pennsylvania’s Lieutenant Gov. Jim Cawley intimated Tuesday morning at an oil and gas conference at Heinz Field.

“Stay tuned,” Mr. Cawley said. “I think you will hear something in the not too distant future. It’s up to a guy named Corbett to announce it.”

Mr. Cawley stepped in as keynote speaker at PIOGA’s Eastern Oil & Gas conference and trade show after the intended guest, Gov. Tom Corbett was called away by visitors from the Vatican to prepare for a possible visit by the pope next year.

The lieutenant governor also alluded to upcoming legislation that would address some of the issues called into question by the state Supreme Court’s ruling on Act 13, Pennsylvania’s oil and gas law.

Pennsylvania’s highest court in December struck down parts of the law as unconstitutional, most notably a provision establishing statewide zoning standards for oil and gas development.

“Obviously, we disagree and will revisit that issue,” Mr. Cawley said. “What the solution is moving forward is something that is still being formulated by us. We should likely be looking at some legislative fixes.”

Mr. Cawley also used the pulpit to rail against proposals by Democratic gubernatorial candidates to levy a severance tax on the oil and gas industry, his delivery escalating in volume and frustration.

“When anyone looks at one particular industry and says, ’ah, we should tax them because they’re successful and they create jobs,’” he said, “the true meaning of what it is they’re saying is you should be penalized for being successful. And that’s wrong.

“This industry is paying a great many taxes already,” he continued. “What a lot of folks in Harrisburg don’t like is that the vast majority of (impact fee) money stays where the impacts are felt. Don’t be deceived. They simply want the money in Harrisburg so they can spend it.”

Anya Litvak:, 412-263-1455.

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