We have to admit that we’re a little puzzled by the Arlington City Council’s support for a plan to assess an annual fee on gas wells. It just strikes us as a way to gouge an industry that’s already pumping millions and millions of dollars into local government.
On its face, the plan would generate funds to deal with gas leaks and other potential issues at drilling sites. We’d have no problem with that…if there were a history of serious problems at the sites.
But that’s the thing. There aren’t.
Drillers in Arlington have historically done their work in a responsible way that pays close attention to community health and well-being. Operators are strictly regulated. They’ve made huge investments in safety equipment. There have been no incidents of any significance.
So why, all of a sudden, is Arlington trying to kill its economic golden goose?
It makes no sense. It’s kind of like assessing a fee on good drivers in order to hire more traffic cops.
The Star-Telegram reported that fire officials are concerned “not only about mechanical problems but also vandalism, damaging weather and other events that can lead to leaks and explosions.” We get that. But you know what? Mechanical problems, vandalism, and bad weather pose serious risks to a lot of other industries in this area. No one is talking about assessing a fee on them, though.
Tarrant County has already received tens of millions of dollars in tax revenues from the drilling industry. Those funds support vital services like firefighting, healthcare, education, and law enforcement. And it just seems a little unfair to keep extracting money from an industry that’s been paying its fair share for a long time.