Sheffield Nelson's push for severance tax | Arkansas Blog

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Sheffield Nelson's push for severance tax

Posted By on Tue, Mar 1, 2011 at 1:39 PM

click to enlarge GERARD MATTHEWS

Sheffield Nelson has called in reporters today to pass around a copy of an updated version of his proposal to increase the severance tax on gas. It will address flaws found in an initial review by the attorney general and continue to call for a 7 percent tax on all gas, old or new. A variety of exceptions has reduced the tax by tens of millions of dollars.

Gerard Matthews is on hand. He reports that Nelson has opened with a review of some of the negative impacts of exploration activity in the Fayetteville shale. More to come.

Nelson mentions that the Game and Fish Commission should have had something to say about a situation we report in an article to be posted on-line later today: Seismic exploration for gas reserves beneath Greers Ferry Lake. Neighbors are nervous. Nelson was sharply critical of the state agency for allowing the testing.

Said Nelson: Arkansas is being sold and then told there is no problem. Also: "Chesapeake is making hundreds of millions and will walk away not caring what happens as a result of what they've done."

Asked about proposed taxes to pay for highway work, Nelson said he thought the proposals to refer a nickel increase in the diesel tax and to amend the constitution to pass a half-cent sales tax to back highway bonds faced opposition in the legislature. He also questioned the constitutionality of the legislature referring the diesel tax to voters. Because of that very question about delegation of legislative power through referendum, the legislature decided to put the sales tax in a constitutional amendment, as it did a tax for parks and related uses some years ago.

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