by Max Brantley
Local shills for gas exploration companies plan a small tour today to whip up opposition to Sheffield Nelson's drive for a realistic gas severance tax for Arkansas.
The shills' tour is limited to a handful of the state's counties getting the job benefits — and road destruction, pollution, noise, etc. — from the shale play. They won't be visiting the numerous counties that are seeing a net loss from the gas activity in the form of subsidizing road destruction that has far exceeded the net from the pitifully small severance tax. That tax was rigged to all but exclude meaningful capture of revenue from shale wells. Never mind the cost, too, of the increased pressure on environmental regulators.
Highway needs? These gas company toadies are happy for the biscuit cookers of Desha County to increase their sales tax burden to pay the cost of repairing local damage from something that provides them scant benefit.
Make Oklahoma (and other states) pay for destruction of Arkansas roads, not Arkansas biscuit cookers. That's Sheffield Nelson's cry. Only those deep in the pockets of the gas companies think that's a bad idea.
IDLE THOUGHT: If a coordinated group of organizations is out spending money on tours and press releases to oppose an expected severance tax referendum, isn't it about time for that group to begin reporting financial contributions and expenditures?