Thursday, July 7, 2011

Lawmakers Could Push Shale Tax or Fee in Fall

Recent polls show the majority of Pennsylvanians support a fee or tax on natural gas drillers in the Marcellus Shale formation. But, is that enough to push the Legislature to muscle a bill through his fall? A good-government advocate says he believes lawmakers may pass a Shale tax to satisfy their constituents just in time for the campaign season next year. Tim Potts is with the non-partisan Democracy Rising Pennsylvania. He says an extraction impact fee or severance tax is inevitable. Just look at Alaska, Potts says - it collects $11 billion a year in leasing fees and extraction taxes. "Well that’s more than a third of the Pennsylvania state budget in a state that has less than the population of Philadelphia. More and more people are learning that we’re being played for chumps by not getting some money for the resources that we’re sending out of state," Potts says. He says the state’s tax revenue surplus, at more than $785 million, could have been a lot higher if there had been a natural gas driller fee in place. The large Republican majority means GOP lawmakers will have full ownership of bills that pass and fail, so he says they’ll have to answer to voters if there’s no fee or tax in the works come next year’s elections.

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