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Dear Editor:

Local (now nationally aspiring) Rep. Steve Bloom (R-199th) recently attended a policy hearing devoted to "strengthening PA’s middle class," using his favored social media platform to proffer that, “Drilling companies will leave if we impose a severance tax” for harvesting natural gas here in Pa.

Since 140-character position proclamations on Twitter leave a lot to be desired, let’s unpack this bit of pablum, shall we?

Drilling companies are clearly not abandoning states where severance taxes are in place. Every major gas-producing state has a severance tax, including nation-leading Texas at 7.5 percent of market value. In fact, tax policy matters little in the equation when drillers weigh more important driving factors like gas prices, access to markets, and the relative cost to produce the gas. Pennsylvania’s shale play is the largest, lowest-cost gas producing region in the country.

Undoubtedly, you’ve seen the pipelines being laid across the valley. Pa. ranks second in the nation in natural gas production, evidence that drillers have invested hefty sums into production from which they are not going to simply walk away. Dickens said, “Dishonesty will stare honesty out of countenance any day in the week, if there is anything to be got by it.”

What, then, might Bloom "get" by staring down honesty? His campaign finances (taken directly from the campaign finance reports submitted to the Commonwealth of PA by the "Bloom for 199th" reelection committee in the 2015 and 2016 election cycles) reveal not-insignificant fossil fuel industry donations — many from outside of Pa. — from Dominion (Virginia), Marathon (Ohio), Cabot (Texas), Chesapeake (Oklahoma), Energy Transfer Partners (Texas), UGI, PA Coal PAC, EQT Corp., and FirstEnergy (Ohio).

Is Bloom really working to “strengthen PA’s middle class” or to enrich corporate pocketbooks outside of Pa.? Do we need another typical politician whose pockets are lined by corporate interests, or one who aligns him/herself with our interests instead?

Insist that our representatives actually represent us with integrity!

Kerry Harbst

Boiling Springs

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