Sheffield Nelson, who is pushing for an increase in Arkansas' natural gas severance tax rate, says that opponents of his measure have nothing to support their claims that jobs could be lost.
“They keep throwing out figures with nothing to back them,” Nelson said in a Friday press conference.
Last week, the Conway Chamber of Commerce unveiled a study by a Texas economist who said increasing the severance tax could cost the state more than 8,300 jobs and billions in economic activity.
Nelson disputes that assertion, saying the natural gas industry has not claimed it would cut jobs if the severance tax increases.
Michael Hibblen with our content partner, KUAR-FM 89 News, reports:
“They preach that jobs are going to leave, but let me remind you of one thing. Nobody in a responsible position at any natural gas company has said any word about jobs leaving. Nobody,” Nelson said. “The only ones saying that are making up that ruse in an attempt to fool the people of the state by saying the jobs are going to leave.”
Nelson said the process of gathering more than
62,000 signatures to put the measure on the ballot is going well.
He also called a campaign urging people not to sign petitions “un-American,” saying voters should be allowed to consider the measure, which he says would pay for damage done to roads by heavy trucks used by the natural gas industry.
In a statement after Nelson's press conference, Randy Zook, President and CEO of the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce and leader of a group called Arkansans for Jobs and Affordable Energy, countered Nelson's accusations.
“There is nothing more American than standing up for jobs that Arkansas families depend on,” Zook said. “In fact, what’s ‘un-American,’ and un-Arkansan is using empty publicity stunts to put out false claims and intentionally mislead the public.”
You can read more or listen to Nelson's press conference at this link.