Legislators talk taxes in regard to Marcellus Shale

  By PATRICK CLOONAN Daily News StafWriter

  There was point-counterpoint about a Marcellus Shale severance tax in Harrisburg.
  Some leading state House Democrats, including Finance Chairman David Levdansky of Forward Township , joined activists and supporters of a tax at one Tuesday rally.
  Republican lawmakers offered opposition to that tax and a possible boost to the state income tax at another rally.
  “The taxpayers who are providing the feed in this trough have had enough,” said Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-Cranberry Township .
  Supporters said a tax would cover the cost of drilling to land and water, and possibly balance the state budget, too.
  “The Marcellus Shale offers us a tremendous opportunity to expand our supply of domestic fuel and, through the proposed severance tax, bring revenue into the state,” acknowledged Jan Jarrett, CEO of Citizens for Pennsylvania’s Future or PennFuture.
  Jarrett also wants part of the tax invested in land, water, wildlife and communities that may bear the brunt of drilling.
  “These drilling operations use millions of gallons of water and scar our land, at least temporarily,” the PennFuture CEO said.
  Jarrett spoke at a Capitol Hill rally with Levdansky as well as House Majority Leader Todd Eachus, DHazleton, and House Environmental Resources and Energy Chairman Camile “Bud” George, D-Houtzdale.
  Also on hand were state Fish and Boat Commission Executive Director Douglas J. Austen; Ed Troxelof the Pennsylvania State Association of Boroughs; and Sharon Ward from the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center.
  Offering opposition was a coalition including Americans for Tax Reform, the National Taxpayers’ Union, the Heritage Foundation and



Citizens Against Higher Taxes.
  In February, Gov. Ed Rendell proposed a 5 percent tax plus 4.7 cents per 1,000 cubic feet of gas produced.
  Rendell said it was similar to a tax in West Virginia and could bring in $107.2 million in fiscal 2009-10 and double that in the 2010-11 fiscal year.
  Tax opponents include state Senate Appropriations Chairman Jake Corman, R-Bellefonte, who told a Philadelphia newspaper last month that it was too early to discuss taxing natural gas extraction.
  A gas industry blog quoted Corman’s remarks to the Pennsylvania Press Club, where he said efforts “to plug a short-term budget problem” could “blow a once-in-a-generation opportunity.” “The drillers and their compatriots are screaming like stuck hogs, complaining that the tax  will kill their ‘infant industry,’” Jarrett said. “But the reality is far different. Drilling in the Marcellus Shale has been going on since 1995.” The PennFuture CEO said the state Department of Environmental Protection already has permitted more than 1,150 Marcellus wells, of which 350 have been drilled with 100 producing fuel.  The Republican-controlled stat State senate did not include a severance tax in the budget it passed. The Democratic s controlled House Appropriation committee rejected the Senate budge in a vote along party lines Monday.
    The Pennsylvania Oil & G and Association said the tax may be aimed tat Marcellus Shale production but would be levied on all gas drilling. s Also, an industry-based Marcellus Shale Committee said West Virginia may have such a tax but it doesn't’ “have the same regulatory challenge that exist in Pennsylvania.” of Levdansky has favored using part nthe tax to fund state Game Commission sand Fish and Boat Commission effort to improve habitat and grow a wildlife recreation industry. He also has raised concern about the impact of drilling in his 39th Legislative district, where such communities a Jefferson Hills and Forward have face the issue. Landowners are increasingly being approached and receiving mailing from property management companies ”representing Marcellus Shale drillers,

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