Date: Thu, 09/09/2010 For Immediate Release: CONTACT: Katy Dunlap, Eastern Water Project Director: 607-742-3331 Erin Mooney, National Press Secretary: 703-284-9408 Trout Unlimited Urges Pennsylvania to Create a Severance Tax on Gas Drilling That Dedicates Funds to Conservation General Assembly must dedicate funds from tax to protect state natural resources. Arlington, Va.-- Trout Unlimited (TU) and its Pennsylvania Council urge Pennsylvania's General Assembly to pass a severance tax on gas drilling that would provide funding to help protect the state's natural resources from the environmental impacts of gas drilling. As part of the July budget deal, the General Assembly and Governor Rendell pledged to enact a Marcellus Shale severance tax by October 1. TU calls on the General Assembly to require that funds raised from such a severance tax are allocated to conservation programs and to state agencies charged with protecting Pennsylvania's natural resources. Pennsylvania's General Assembly is expected take up the severance tax issue later this month. "The General Assembly needs to fulfill its commitment to pass a severance tax this session--one that must make funding for conservation programs and agencies a top priority," said Katy Dunlap, TU's Eastern Water Project Director. According to the Governor's office, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is on track to issue approximately 2,700 drilling permits this year, a 36% increase from 2009. "State agencies that are charged with protecting the environment, such as the Fish and Boat Commission, the Game Commission and the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, are not adequately funded to deal with the expected boost in gas drilling," said Dave Rothrock, President of TU's Pennsylvania Council. "The Pennsylvania Council of TU has spent countless volunteer hours working in partnership with these agencies to restore our coldwater streams and rivers from the devastating effects of coal mining," Rothrock said. "Passing a severance tax with funding designated for conservation programs and the agencies responsible for natural resource protection will show that Pennsylvania is being pro-active rather than reactive to environmental impacts from the oil and gas industry." According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, more than $3.9 billion is generated for Pennsylvania and local communities each year from fishing, hunting, and wildlife-related recreation. With guaranteed funding for conservation programs and agencies, Pennsylvania will have the opportunity to protect some of its most valuable and irreplaceable natural areas. Trout Unlimited is the nation's largest coldwater conservation organization, with 140,000 membersdedicated to conserving, protecting, and restoring North America's trout and salmon fisheries and their watersheds. The Pennsylvania Council of Trout Unlimited has over 12,000 members and 51 chapters.