Citizens for Pennsylvania’s Future (PennFuture) condemned the planned giveaway of $1.7 billion in taxpayer dollars that Gov. Tom Corbett promised to Royal Dutch Shell as an inducement to build a cracker plant in Beaver County to process the wet gas from drilling in the Marcellus Shale. Shell posted $7.3 billion in profits for the first quarter of 2012 (over $80 million per day) and had more than $10 billion in cash reserves as of January 2012.
“The governor’s proposal violates his own belief that the free market, and not government, should pick winners and losers,” said George Jugovic Jr., president and CEO of PennFuture. “Let’s be clear – by choosing to offer Shell a $1.7 billion dollar tax break while proposing to cut nearly $900 million to public education, the governor is choosing winners and losers and he has cast his lot with choosing to further help a multi-billion dollar corporation over the education of future generations of Pennsylvanians.
“The governor’s proposal to give Shell tax credits worth $67 million a year for 25 years will mean that not one, but two generations of Pennsylvanians will pay be on the hook for his largesse,” said Jugovic.
The apparently secret offer was uncovered today by Pete DeCoursey of Capitolwire, and confirmed to the AP’s Peter Jackson by Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati’s top aide.
This project has already received favorable tax treatment by the governor. Earlier this year, Corbett signed a bill to give Shell 15 years of tax cuts and exemptions by designating the plant site as an expanded Keystone Opportunity Zone. In addition, the governor led the fight to prevent the imposition of a reasonable shale gas extraction tax on the gas industry.
The governor’s tax policies are inequitable in many ways. Last December, the PennFuture Energy Center detailed subsidies for fossil fuels in Pennsylvania, which included tax exemptions, tax credits, and grants that total $2.9 billion per year. “If you really want to understand a governor’s priorities, look at his tax policy,” stated Jugovic. “That is where the governor makes real choices – who pays and who profits.”
PennFuture is a statewide public interest membership organization that advances policies to protect and improve the state’s environment and economy. With offices in Harrisburg, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Wilkes-Barre, PennFuture’s activities include litigating cases before regulatory bodies and in local, state, and federal courts, advocating and advancing legislative action on a state and federal level, public education, and assisting citizens in public advocacy.