Double Standard Strikes Natural Gas with PA “Back to Work” Program


In a period of unrelenting attacks, the oil and gas industry has been under intense scrutiny. Fears of abandonment and extinction are all too real with a political administration that appears to have no interest in compromise but instead intends to starve the families of a workforce that is responsible for much more than just fueling automobiles. Following suit, state rivals also thrive in destroying an industry built to be a dominant force in this country.

Touting the environmental hardships and climate concerns produced by the natural-gas industry, opponents have taken more shots at the industry than one can count. In fact, if the natural gas industry was a life form, it would definitely be bleeding out at the moment. With groups like the Delaware River Basin landing a permanent blow against natural gas in Pennsylvania, the irony is nothing to laugh at considering the state’s Democratic Governor Wolf and his strategy to fund his “Back to Work PA” plan. Extracting a tax and impact fee from natural gas, the governor estimates a potential $300 million can be generated annually.

“Pennsylvania needs a comprehensive, forward-thinking plan to jump-start our economy and support our workforce,” said Governor Wolf. “Back to Work PA will make strategic and comprehensive investments to build a stronger and more diverse workforce, support Pennsylvania businesses while attracting businesses to the commonwealth, and assist communities with economic recovery efforts-all of which will help us to get back on track and build a brighter future for Pennsylvania.”

Plan specifics

Responding to the dreadful effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Wolf’s plan addresses those impacted by the pandemic itself, along with inequities and the provision of resources to assist in the demand for occupational development. Additionally, the plan would lend direction in fostering jobs that propel into careers in which workers maintain wages allowing for the ability to support their families.

Under the “Back to Work PA” program, intense swiftness would be instilled in new skill development, improvements in current skill sets and also the ability to transfer those skills to bridge state citizens with new career opportunities. Looking to the future, enhanced digital skills would also be implemented.

Current apprenticeships would receive an uptick in attention and include health care, child care, manufacturing and also the information technology sector. The middle class and the trades would receive an injection of education and training. Workforce services would receive its own boost of attention with career coaching availability. 

Child care would also find itself in the helpful hands of the state government. With proposed expansion notions, non-traditional work hours would be increased, as would child care subsidies themselves.

Lastly, Governor Wolf’s manifesto would service and support programs that provide the ability to locate employment opportunities. Striving to succeed, the plan proposes assistance in obtaining credentials for those re-entering the workplace.

Not going down without a fight

With Pennsylvania’s House and Senate led by the GOP, the natural-gas industry has yet to draw its final breath. Governor Wolf often experiences opposition, and the latest attempt at taxation is just another example.

From within Wolf’s party, progressives have strayed from associating and planning the state’s financial budget with hydraulic fracturing. Political figures from southwestern Pennsylvania have exercised parallel opinions where the price of gas directly affects the local economy.

Defending his proposed course of action, Wolf stated this attempt at taxation was nothing new and is exercised by other states who already levy taxes on natural-gas production. He added that some of the companies responsible for paying the tax are not even local to the state.

“We’re a big producer, and we’re the only major producer without a severance task,” said Wolf. “I’m not sure why it’s been such a heavy lift, but it seems to me to be one of the easiest taxes to impose.”

Interpreting the paradox

The nerve and absolute irony of Governor Wolf’s natural-gas taxation attempt exemplifies the double standard implemented on the industry today. With hatred and contempt being levied against natural gas by an unreasonable Democratic party, it is a ludicrous play that lacks the integrity to profit from an industry its detests. The unarguable fact that Governor Wolf has made known that although his party condemns an industry that has produced and given so much to this country, by attempting to tax it, they have identified that they recognize its value.

Governor Wolf’s contradiction of standards can easily be detested themselves and finds simple comparison in a common scenario. Would you ask an enemy that you loath for assistance? In these terms and in today’s society, natural gas is the enemy of the political majority. Defaming and contemptuous statements and accusations have been waged, yet financial assistance is requested out of the proverbial corner of the mouth. 

Perhaps Governor Wolf should reevaluate his saving economic source and tap the renewables market. With that industry peddling statements of greater efficiency, one can only deduce that it produces a greater profit for taxation. 


Nick Vaccaro is a freelance writer and photographer. Besides providing technical writing services, he is an HSE consultant in the oil and gas industry with eight years of experience. He also contributes to Louisiana Sportsman Magazine and follows and photographs American Kennel Club field and herding trials. Nick has a BA in Photojournalism from Loyola University and resides in the New Orleans area. 210-240-7188 [email protected]


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