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Letters to the Editor

February 20, 2009

Why not tax natural gas, instead of Pennsy citizens?



To the editor:

The polling data is clear: Pennsylvanians are overwhelmingly against allowing counties to increase their sales tax by 1 percent.

A recent Quinnipiac University Poll cited the opposition at 69-28 statewide. However, like the Commonwealth, local governments are facing budget shortfalls and need assistance for their coffers.

I believe the burgeoning natural gas drilling industry that is rampant across the state can provide that financial aid without a cost to local taxpayers.

Natural gas and coal-bed methane are found with great abundance in our Commonwealth, making untold riches for their owner (wealthy gas companies), but remaining virtually tax-free within our borders.

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Nearly every state taxes natural resources.Therefore, implementing such an assessment would not drive the drilling companies to our neighboring states.

There is precedent for such a tax in Pennsylvania, as counties, municipalities and school districts were assessing the tax until December 2002 when the state Supreme Court decided that the General Assembly had not explicitly recognized gas and oil as a taxable interest.

To correct that oversight, I will reintroduce legislation in the state House of Representatives to allow counties, municipalities and school districts to assess value on natural gas, oil and coal-bed methane.

If the tax is implemented on the mining companies (not local property owners), I believe the money should stay in the local area from which it is derived, rather than be sent to the state's coffers, as proposed last week by Gov. Edward G. Rendell.

I also remain open to the possibility of a state severance tax on natural gas, but with the caveat that some of the money must revert back to our local taxing entities.

If the state is going to reap the benefits of the Marcellus Shale natural gas boom, our localities and subsequently local taxpayers must also benefit.

State Rep. Bill DeWeese
majority whip
Pennsylvania House
50th Legislative District




Darwin, creation: Fundamentalists hurt both sides



To the editor:

The struggle between the religious fundamentalists and the Darwinian fundamentalists would be amusing if it were not so painfully indicative of the intellectual and spiritual gridlock that has stalled the country.

The problem with fundamentalism of any kind is that it gets boring. The religious fundamentalist masters the "fundamentals" of his belief and develops an airtight view of heaven and earth only to find that his airtight view is actually a prison in which his mind grows stale and rigid.

The Darwinian fundamentalist so completely "buys" the tenets and nuances of Darwin's theory that he loses the ability to discover anything new about the mystery of creation.

He ceases to be a scientist and "rigs" the evidence to fit the theory. Each kind of fundamentalist gets trapped in his own narrow view, and in his boredom with himself and his way of looking at the world, he gets dogmatic and nasty in his need to be "right."

The life of the mind and soul and spirit is a continuous climb up a mountain whose top we probably will not reach in this lifetime. The truths become more lasting the higher we climb, but our vision is never so comprehensive that we can judge or belittle those who are seeing a different face of the holy mountain.

Good and evil and God remain immutable and absolute, though we see them "through a glass, darkly," as Saint Paul said. Reality defines itself. God does not need me to define reality.

Americans of all persuasions need to quit pretending that they are anointed prophets of truth. The minute we think we see it all, God shows us how blind we are and leads us off the plateau of intellectual comfort and back up the mountain.

Too many Americans are doing too much talking and not enough climbing.

Sam Cuthbert
Hagerstown




Can you help with our mission trip?



To the editor:

On July 8 of this year, 22 of our student and adult leaders will be traveling to Fort Thompson, S.D., to assist with mission work at the Crow Creek Sioux Reservation.

We will be helping Diamond Willow Ministries with construction work, its children's ministry and feeding the needy. More information about Diamond Willow can be found on their Web site at www.d-w-m.org.

Each student and adult leader must personally raise $1,000 in order to participate. We have been working diligently to organize a silent auction which will be held on Saturday, April 25, at 5 p.m. at Ringgold Church to go toward total needed team expenses of $22,000.

We are asking for your help. Any donation toward our silent auction would be greatly appreciated. Would you consider donating an item that represents your business, a monetary donation or any other item? We are a nonprofit organization, so your contribution would be tax deductible.

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