Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell has issued an executive order banning any further leasing of state forest land for natural gas drilling and at the same time has opened the door to more talks on a Marcellus Shale severance tax. Last week Rendell declared the severance tax dead for 2010 but in a news conference today Rendell said that he is willing to talk if the legislature wants to return in a lame duck session. The move comes as five Republican state senators announced that they are asking their caucus leadership to continue negotiations over the tax. Ed Rendell blamed their party for killing the talks. The five southeastern Pennsylvania lawmakers wrote to Senate President Joe Scarnati late last week urging him to work toward enacting a tax before the end of the legislative session. The Associated Press obtained a copy of the letter, sent by Sens. Ted Erickson, Stewart Greenleaf, Chuck McIlhinney, Bob Mensch and Robert Tomlinson. The senators say they disagree with the governor's claim that Republicans haven't negotiated in good faith. Scarnati says talks among legislative caucuses are continuing. Rendell has called on the Senate to return November 8th to work out a deal.