Sheffield Nelson, who jump-started the legislation that increased the state severance tax on natural gas, talks to Rob Moritz of Stephens Media about his growing inclination to start an initiative campaign to increase the tax so that it will at least cover the cost of damage drilling rigs are doing to state roads. Gov. Mike Beebe is, surprise, quite cautious about this idea. The gas industry? You can guess.
The problem, as a story Ernie Dumas has written for our Jan. 13 issue illustrates, is somewhat less than actual rate of the tax but the variety of loopholes written into the law that kept the higher rate from covering a great deal of the gas produced here and to allow drillers to recapture costs before any tax was assessed. A much lower rate with fewer loopholes would have been far more productive. The citizen legislature vs. gas lobbyists? It just wasn't a fair fight. Never has been.