Cody Stewart, energy adviser for Gov. Gary Herbert, recently gave a glowing report about the future of Utah's oil and natural gas. He stated that in the near future Utahns could expect annual revenue of about $5 billion. That sounds a little high when you consider the Utah severance tax runs between 3 to 5 percent of the value extracted. A study completed in 2012 puts that figure at about $65.6 million and when you add in the sales and property taxes the total comes to $123 million. That's a long way from $5 billion. Maybe we should be thinking about raising our severance tax. North Dakota has severance taxes of 11 percent.
On the other hand, we may be looking at the wrong picture. Why not think about reducing our fossil energy use and try to develop clean, nonpolluting, sustainable energy sources? Here's an idea. Raise the severance tax by 5 percent, put half of the money into developing clean energy and the other half into additional funding for education.
Bob Van Velkinburgh
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