A healthy environment requires healthy industry:

By Stephen Mohr – USP Chairman of the Board

 

There’s nothing like being outdoors.

Pennsylvania is full of abundant wildlife and vibrant ecosystems, providing residents across the Commonwealth with an environment that can be enjoyed in all manner of ways. From hiking in the Allegheny Mountains to spending time at one of our many National State Parks, there is something for everyone.

The Unified Sportsmen of Pennsylvania has long prioritized the protection of the outdoors, but we are concerned over President Biden’s tax plan, which would impose punitive tax increases that threaten both Pennsylvanians and our environment. Given the work that many American industries — particularly the energy sector — have done to protect and preserve the environment, these proposed changes would sell out Pennsylvania’s businesses and limit conservation efforts at a time when they are needed most.

USP believes that a healthy environment and a healthy energy industry should be intertwined and reliant on one another — increasing corporate taxes makes this impossible. Biden’s tax plan proposes raising corporate taxes from 21% to 28%, a rate that would be paid for by businesses of all sizes. In Pennsylvania, such an increase would negatively impact the conservation efforts of the energy industry, as well as reduce the funding the sector provides for public outlays such as education, infrastructure, and healthcare.

Since 2012, Pennsylvania has generated nearly $2 billion in new revenues from local oil and gas operations. Proceeds are allocated toward conservation efforts and State Park funding, as well as other public, outlays such as education, infrastructure, and healthcare. Our Department of Conservation and Natural Resources alone has successfully and safely drilled our state forests, rivers, and streams and has generated well over $1 billion in new revenue for improving and managing our state forests, state parks, state hiking, and snowmobile trails since their first gas lease in September 2008.

As the Commonwealth begins to recover from the coronavirus pandemic, natural gas companies can provide crucial energy and funding that not only helps protect the environment but creates opportunities for community and economic development if President Biden doesn’t stand in the way.

For example, it seems misguided for the White House to be targeting U.S. enterprises and punishing them with higher taxes. Any increases targeting the energy industry and other valuable sectors will be felt by Americans everywhere. According to the Tax Foundation, a nonpartisan organization, raising taxes on American businesses harms workers and companies alike. Their analysis predicts the proposed tax plan will reduce U.S. gross domestic product by 0.5%, the gross national product by 0.3%, and eliminate approximately 101,000 full-time jobs between 2022 and 2031.

President Biden’s policies are not consistent with what he has promised and may end up doing more harm than good in the quest to protect the environment. While some may argue there is a need to generate new tax revenue to help fund infrastructure in Pennsylvania and the rest of the country, the White House should examine other avenues to do so that do not impede conservation efforts.

For instance, improving compliance with existing tax laws and collecting unpaid taxes is much fairer to small businesses and does not impact funding for conservation. In the next 10 years, this “tax gap” is expected to be nearly $7 trillion. If even one-fifth of this figure was collected, the revenue would be roughly equivalent to the amount gained via Biden’s plans to raise corporate tax rates.

America’s industries already do so much more to conserve the world’s environment than those abroad.   The U.S. has long faced an uphill battle in leading the global charge to protect the planet, but raising taxes only makes that hill steeper. If our lawmakers believe we must pursue raising revenue, they should confine their efforts to actions that will not harm current conservation efforts and limit crucial funding for communities in Pennsylvania and beyond.