While some Republican lawmakers talk about an "impact fee," supporters of a natural gas severance tax aren’t giving up, despite the measure’s slim chances of becoming law this year. Democrats couldn’t pass a tax on Marcellus Shale drilling when they controlled the House and governor’s office, and Republican leaders have said they won’t support a levy.
But a group of Democrats has introduced another measure, similar to the 5 percent tax Governor Rendell supported last year. At a press conference introducing the new bill, Democratic Senator Daylin Leach reiterated a well-worn argument for the tax.
"People say, you know, well – in other contexts, if you raise the tax you’re going to drive the business out. First of all, every other state has a tax, so where are they going to go? Number one. Number two: the energy is here. They have to be here if they’re going to get it out of our ground."
Democratic Representative Bud George says the tax is needed...
"Extraction of any natural resource comes at a cost. A severance tax would enable Pennsylvania to implement safeguards for water."
Talk in the Republican-controlled Senate has turned to a so-called “impact fee” on drilling, which would only fund local communities. No specific fee bill has been introduced.
Governor Corbett is planning to appoint a panel to look into drilling safety and oversight issues, but hasn’t announced its members yet.