Proposed Ohio Severance Tax Debated in Front of State Lawmakers

State lawmakers on Tuesday heard two very different views from Eastern Ohio officials and energy industry representatives about the wisdom of significantly raising the state's fracking tax. 
Eastern Ohio officials from both parties told the Ohio House Ways and Means Committee that Gov. John Kasich's proposed tax hike is needed to pay for growing infrastructure costs created by drilling activity in their area, such as expanding sewer services and repaving more heavily traveled roads. 
In addition, they said, a higher tax would ensure that poverty-stricken areas of Eastern Ohio would be fairly compensated by energy companies that deplete the area's resources, then leave for good. 
"This industry lives off of our land," said Harrison County Commissioner Don Bethel, a Republican. 
However, industry representatives said that with oil and gas prices plummeting in recent months, raising taxes now would devastate Ohio's promising but still-developing hydraulic fracturing activity in the Marcellus and Utica shale formations.
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