One time, a couple years ago, a legislator told me that we could have clean air BUT it was expensive and I needed to understand that more money for clean air meant less money for schools.
Today we have legislators using our tax dollars to claim public lands for leasing to more drilling – again, its either that, or apparently we remain last in the nation in public school spending.
I want to be very, very clear – a mother in 21st century Utah should NOT have to choose between clean air and education.
Faced with this so-called choice, parents are supposed to chant along to “drill, baby, drill,” because, well, we want our babies to go to school and learn, baby, learn.
That’s not a choice. That’s a hostage situation – let us pollute, or there’s not enough money for your schools.
The men wining and dining right now in that dirty energy summit have contrived with our state leadership to sell our children’s future – their health, their education, and their cultural heritage – at bargain bin prices.
30 some years ago, the oil and gas industry negotiated a sweetheart tax deal with Utah, and despite all the rhetoric we hear about the energy boom, those preferential tax rates have not changed. A 2012 report by Headwaters Economics, ranks Utah’s effective tax rate on oil and gas at only 3.3% – the lowest among six other energy producing states in our region – and this on an industry, which in 2013 recorded production sales value at more than 4.6 billion dollars. (I took that number off the website for the Division of Oil, Gas and Mining.)
For comparison, Wyoming charges 11.4%. Montana charges 10.5%.
This is tens of millions of dollars that dirty energy companies walk away with – while our lawmakers tell us that we can’t even afford to upgrade old, polluting school buses.
Our lax environmental regulations, oil and gas drilling, refinery expansion, polluting semi trucks transporting our non-renewable resources through our cities…. these create profit for a few and pollution for the rest of us. These for-profit polluters must start paying the true cost of doing business.
Because the truth is what we really, really cannot afford is to offer big industries discounts paid for with our children’s future. Our kids deserve clean air, the best education, and beautiful vistas – and if these energy executives want to do business in our state – they ought to pay their fair share.