Corbett sees Pa. as ‘Texas of natural gas’

    Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett’s proposed budget includes no new taxes. That means  no tax on natural gas drillers tapping the state’s lucrative Marcellus Shale formation. That fact has environmentalists concerned

    In his budget address, Corbett said he wants to turn Pennsylvania into the “Texas of natural gas.”

    To do that, he’s established a Marcellus Shale Commission to look at how the state can promote jobs in the natural gas industry. The budget does not call for more drilling in state forests and parks, as environmentalists had feared. But it does give more authority to the Department of Community and Economic Development to speed up the permitting process if they think jobs would be affected.

    Jan Jarrett, president of the environmental group PennFuture, said she’s worried about that provision.

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    “It can really render regulators kind of toothless if any agency action can be changed by the intervention of the DCED Secretary,” she said.

    Tapping the state’s newly accessible natural gas reserves has become controversial because of the environmental threats to drinking water. In his address, Corbett clearly sided with those who favor drilling — stressing limited government, and the prerogative of those who own the mineral rights to the gas reserves.

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