The Highway Department estimates almost a half-billion in damage to 800 miles of roads from gas drilling, against $35 million in revenue from the severance tax. You'd think this would encourage some support for legislation in committee this morning to tax a bit more of the Fayetteville shale production at the 5 percent rate, rather than a favored 1.5 percent rate for certain "high-cost" gas. No resolution on the bill was reached.
But Republican legislators appeared primed to oppose any additional severance tax. The gas lobby has done its work. The lobby's talking pointtoday is that nobody is making the timber, agriculture, poultry and other industries pay for the damage they cause. I'm not aware of studies that show comparable damage to the localized destruction done in the shale zones. However, by all means, let's study it and tax road-damaging industries accordingly.
Silly me. Corporations don't pay for the damage they cause. You pay. Thus Jonathan Barnett's general sales tax for road construction, the biggest portion to fix roads destroyed by trucks, not passenger cars.