Governor Ed Rendell is calling on legislative leaders to give up part of their Columbus Day holiday to resolve differences over a Marcellus Shale tax proposal. The state House passed a severance tax bill late last month, but the Senate Republican majority said the rate was higher than they could accept. The governor has invited leaders of the House and Senate to meet with him and industry leaders at 1:30 this afternoon at his office in Harrisburg. Kathryn Klaber, President and CEO of the Marcellus Shale Coalition, a group that supports the growth of the industry in Pennsylvania, says the bill the House passed is more than double what is the least competitive severance tax in other shale gas states. The House bill would put a 39 cent tax on every thousand cubic feet of gas drilled. Klaber says a severance tax that is not competitive with other states would stifle competition in Pennsylvania. She says she would hope the house bill would not stand the test of time if Pennsylvania is interested in making the most of an economic opportunity which natural gas drilling presents.
Groups opposed to Marcellus Shale drilling have expressed concerns about the environmental impacts on communities. One aspect is the wear and tear on roads. Klaber says the drilling companies are addressing concerns about road use by trucks. She admits there are temporary problems with some roads. But she says the companies bond the roads they are using and enter into road use agreements where they are building and rebuilding roads to a condition better than when they entered into the agreement.