Marcellus Shale panel has first meeting

    As Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett’s Marcellus Shale Commission prepares to meet for the first time Friday, Democrats continue to bang the drum for a natural gas severance tax or fee.

    “It’s sinful, in many respects, that that community is getting off without paying any taxes back at a minimum, at a minimum to the local communities,” said Senate Majority Leader Jay Costa in a recent interview.

    “And that’s not even putting any money into the general fund. We’ll go along with not doing that. But we need to be – if we’re going to impose a tax, which I think we should, it should be back to the local communities, it should be to the environmental community, and also further infrastructure investments.”

    The stance puts Costa roughly on the same page as his Republican counterparts, who want a low-level impact fee to fund local governments and environmental protection. Senate Republicans have yet to introduce a bill, but are working on drafting impact fee legislation behind closed doors. Earlier this week, Corbett said he’d be “willing to listen to” a fee proposal, if it didn’t send any money to the state’s general fund.

    The commission will meet Friday from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. in Harrisburg. Lt. Gov. Jim Cawley chairs the panel and a third of its members have ties to the drilling industry.

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