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Pennsylvania debates tax on shale drilling

Tuesday, September 7th, 2010

The Pennsylvania state Senate returns to work in two weeks. But they’ve been spending the summer meeting with industry lobbyists, environmentalists and local government officials to prepare an overhaul of the state’s oil and gas law. The proposal includes a new tax on natural gas extraction.

Senate Republicans say they want to hit the ground running when they return to Harrisburg September 20th. Lawmakers have pledged to have a tax on the Marcellus Shale in place by October 1.

Industry representatives are pushing for a provision to force unwilling landowners to sell their mineral rights. They argue it would create efficiencies that would benefit the environment. But David Masur from PennEnvironment says the state’s gas drilling industry already has hurt the environment.

“With that sort of track record, how the industry can argue that any policy that speeds up or facilitates their ability to drill can only be good for our environment, it doesn’t pass the laugh test.”

Masur also worries that the final proposal would delay taxing the industry. The legislative package also covers new regulations for well construction, expanded disclosure requirements and new penalties for drillers that break the law.

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