Government

Coalition Forms to Fight Oil and Gas Severance Tax

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — A coalition of local Ohio elected, business, labor and community leaders announced the formation Tuesday of the Protect Ohio Jobs Coalition, “an organization dedicated to ensuring tax policies do not stop the growth of Ohio’s oil and natural gas industry, the Ohio businesses that support it and the Ohio jobs it creates in related industries,” the coalition says.

More than 40 local leaders joined the coalition to oppose the severance tax increase proposed in House Bill 64 because of concerns that the tax increase on energy production would threaten Ohio jobs and investment and could drive up energy costs for Ohio families and businesses, according to the announcement.

Among them are Plumbers & Pipefitters Local 396, based in Boardman, and the Western Reserve Building Trades Council, which represents skilled trades unions in the Mahoning Valley. Local companies joining the coalition include Evets Oil and Gas Construction Services, Girard, and Dearing Compressor & Pump, Youngstown.

“Ohio as a whole, but certainly Eastern Ohio, has seen new businesses created, struggling businesses finding new opportunities and strong economic growth thanks to oil and natural gas industry investments in the Utica Shale play,” said Joanne Sexton, president and CEO of the Cambridge Area Chamber of Commerce. “Nearly 14,000 Ohio companies play a part in Utica Shale development, which is still new to our state. This industry is facing low commodity prices and must make tough choices about where and how to invest. We need to encourage the industry to stay in Ohio, not create tax policies that makes it more attractive to drill elsewhere.”

Butch Taylor, Plumbers & Pipefitters Local 396 business manager, said skilled trades unions across Ohio are seeing more work because of the oil and gas industry. “The work being sought for these operations demands well-trained, skilled workers like those throughout the trades. Our local and many others like ours are seeing more jobs and more opportunity to train Ohioans in skilled trades as a result of the industry’s investment in shale exploration in Ohio. The proposed severance tax increase could drive good-paying jobs for Ohio families out of the state,” he warned.

“Our business has increased production and added more employees by providing pipe and other products to oil and gas companies in Ohio,” Jack Miller, CEO of Ken Miller Supply, said. “If these companies slow production, it will impact my business and our employees. The proposed drastic increase in severance tax, will certainly lead to a decrease in demand for the products we make. This will hurt my business, countless other Ohio businesses that have seen growth from the Utica Shale play and hard-working families.”

More information about the coalition is available via email and on Facebook.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.