The Pennsylvania House has passed a natural gas severance tax, but the Senate’s top Republican is throwing cold water on the bill’s chances in the upper chamber.
The bill passed by a 104-94 margin with 92 Democrats and 12 Republicans voting for the measure, which sets a 39 cent tax on every thousand cubic feet of gas drilled.
The first 70 million dollars of revenue would go into the General Fund, along with 4 of every 10 dollars after that.
Senate President Pro Tem Joe Scarnati says that’s too much.
"You know, from the beginning I said this isn’t about balancing the General Fund or raising revenues for the General Fund. This is about environmental issues, it’s about safety, and it’s about returning money back for impact to the local municipalities and counties."
He says the Senate will not consider the House’s measure, but he and other leaders are willing to “negotiate in good faith,” and could send a different severance tax back to the House in October.
But House Speaker Keith McCall views the bill as a starting point for negotiations, and says he’s willing to compromise in order to get a bill.
"All of those issues are going to be on the table. The rate, the distribution of those funds, and what we do legislatively to protect the environment. To ensure that the environment – that the monies we derive from this go to environmental programs that are so very important to the majority of members of the House and the Senate."
House Democratic leaders say they’ll begin negotiating with Scarnati and other Senate leaders today and the rate and revenue distribution are both on the table.
Kathryn Klaber, president and executive director the Marcellus Shale Coalition called the House approval misguided......
"Votes against job creation and the responsible development of clean-burning domestic natural gas, which is helping to lower energy prices for Pennsylvania consumers and driving down our nation’s dependence on foreign sources of energy.
Klaber said she's confident that the Senate will remain steadfast in its "commitment to realize a competitive climate for growth and prosperity for Pennsylvanians."