COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A top lobbyist for Ohio's oil and gas drilling industry urged state lawmakers Wednesday to support a package of tax revisions advanced as an alternative to an earlier plan by Republican Gov. John Kasich.
At a packed hearing before the House Ways and Means Committee, Ohio Oil and Gas Association executive vice president Tom Stewart expressed support for a tax bill introduced last month.
The proposal would raise the severance tax rate on horizontally drilled wells by 1 percent, then 2 percent, while rolling back similar taxes on traditional wells.
The plan would exempt drilling companies subject to the new tax from Ohio's main business tax, called the Commercial Activity Tax, and makes other adjustments.
Critics say Ohio's drilling taxes would still be too low, given the money to be made through natural gas-rich shale deposits made newly available in recent years through advances in high-pressure hydraulic fracturing, which involves horizontal drilling.
Stewart said the new proposal is constructed to encourage gas exploration, environmental protection and regulatory reform without scaring off drillers.