In the largest display of Astroturf organizing in recent memory, the Marcellus Shale industry today brought busloads of its employees and some lease-holding landowners to Harrisburg for a parade and a rally.
The industry’s “message” was drilling means jobs. But then an activist jumped to the head of the parade and moved a better idea to the front of the parade - TAX THE FRACKERS BEHIND ME.
The show the industry put on, complete with a Jumbotron on the Capitol steps and a squad of black-shirted private security, was meant to head off any silly thoughts the Pennsylvania legislature may be having about enacting a severance tax on natural gas extraction.
The industry’s message for the day repeated one of the central myths the industry has embedded in the culture of the General Assembly – gas drilling is driving employment in Pennsylvania. But that’s just not true. Between 2007 and 2012, the gas drilling industry added 22,000 jobs to the Pennsylvania workforce, a mere 0.2 percent of the total.
And there is a big number the members of the General Assembly must keep in mind – the $1 billion deficit they must fill to produce the coming fiscal year’s state budget.
Over the next seven weeks, Pennsylvania legislators will face a choice – make further cuts and continue to devastate education, human services and the economy – or TAX THE FRACKERS BEHIND ME.