by Max Brantley
This proposed initiated act will raise the severance tax in Arkansas to 7% [of the price at wellhead] and on par with those in the adjoining natural gas producing states of Texas, Louisiana, and Oklahoma. In the last fiscal year, the natural gas companies had $3.5 billion in sales and paid $54.9 million in severance taxes or a rate of only 1.5%. These companies have damaged highways, city streets and county roads to the tune of over $450 million and have seriously impacted our environment. They have done this while extracting billions in our precious non-renewable resources, mostly for sale in other states, at bargain rates, because our severance tax is the fourth lowest among the 30 gas producing states. The damage caused to our infrastructure and environment will only get worse, not better because large multinational companies have now entered the state to extract our natural gas.