Time is ticking on a gas tax

Posted by By at 24 September, at 16 : 43 PM Print

Everybody under Pennyslvania’s Capitol Dome is talking, at least seemingly, about a severance tax on natural gas in the Marcellus play. Talk is getting cheaper, and time for more heavy legislative lifting is running out on this session; like gas evaporating from the top of a well-head.

At stake: millions of dollars, oil, and gas campaign contributions, and perhaps, even some political careers.

Opponents of drilling for natural gas in Marcellus are angry, and in lieu of a moratorium; they will support what hurts the gas industry  most – money and political ties.

Governor Edward Rendell wanted an agreement by October 1 –   to do it he will have to blow partisan snipping out the front door. Gary Tuma, a spokesperson for the Governor tells us that Rendell is flexible to a degree.

“The Governor is still hopeful the legislature will pass a severance tax. He (Rendell) recognizes they (legislature) made a committment to pass it by October. The Governor hopes they live up to that commitment,” said Tuma.

Rendell has insisted on a 5 percent tax for all extraction and on top of that 4.7 cents for per 1,000 cubic feet of natural gas; figures based on a tax formula used in West Virginia. It would provide what Tuma calls adequate revenue for the general fund, local impact, and environmental protection.

However, the truth is there’s too much waffling going on in the House over how much severance tax drillers should pay, how millions become divided, and what’s earmarked for environmental protection.  

Erik Arneson, Spokesperson for Republican Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi, told RockTheCapital, “If the House does pass a severance tax bill, we have worked for months to develop a comprehensive package addressing the severance tax, and other issues related to Marcellus Shale that we would advance.”

Phyllis Mundy – a Democratic Representative out of Luzerne County put it this way, “People are confused, frustrated, and flat out angry,” Mundy was sizing up the sentiment among those opposed to drilling, but she could just as well have been talking about her fellow representatives.

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