Supervisors want regional approach to area oil exploration

SOUTHWEST MISSISSIPPI — Pike County supervisors are suggesting southwest Mississippi take a regional approach to address the growing oil exploration in the area.

Officials believe if the Tuscaloosa Marine Shale formation proves to be a honey hole for oil and gas companies, then southwest Mississippi could see a boost in business and an influx of oil workers and residents with new disposable income.

Tuscaloosa Marine Shale formation is located in Pike, Wilkinson and Amite counties.

“We need to be very receptive because this is probably one of the best industries we’re ever going to get without having to spend county money to get,” Supervisor Gary Honea told the Enterprise-Journal.

Honea said officials shouldn’t respond to the oil industry by imposing taxes and excessive regulations.

Supervisor Chuck Lambert said Amite, Adams, Franklin, Lincoln, Pike, Walthall and Wilkinson counties and their municipalities which lie more or less within the Tuscaloosa Marine Shale formation should be represented on a regional committee.

Lambert said southwest Mississippi counties should band together to ask the Legislature to increase their share of severance taxes, or taxes paid on oil and other minerals removed from the ground.

Counties currently receive shares ranging from 15 percent to 33 percent of the tax, with the state getting the rest.

Lambert said the counties should get 50 percent since they must shoulder the costs of road and bridge repairs, additional law enforcement and other expenses related to exploration and production.

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