When state lawmakers approved a new budget for Pennsylvania in early July, there was an agreement to take a vote on a Marcellus Shale gas severance tax by October 1. Governor Ed Rendell is now turning up the heat on the General Assembly to pass the tax by that deadline but there is still disagreement over a tax rate and how the revenues should be divided between the state and local municipalities.
Speaking in Tioga County Friday, the governor said drilling in the Marcellus Shale has the potential of being a tremendous economic boom for the state...
"We need the resources to inspect, monitor and enforce against companies that don't meet our environmental standards, and local governments need the resources to maintain their bridges, respond to emergencies and meet increasing demands for social services."
The governor said he wants the drilling industry to succeed in Pennsylvania...
"Because if they flourish and they make money, they'll be creating jobs and economic development and wealth for Pennsylvanians. I want it to flourish, but I want it to flourish the right way and the right way means a fair and significant and robust severance tax."
The governor notes that Pennsylvania is the only major energy-producing state that does not levy a tax on natural gas extraction.
Rendell has indicated he would like a tax similar to that in West Virginia...4.7 cents per 1,000 cubic feet of gas produces and 5% on the value of gas sold. The governor is hoping for $70 million in revenues to help balance this year's budget.