Bucks lawmaker proposes taxing Pa. drillers on shale gas sales

     In this April 23, 2010 file photo, workers move a section of well casing into place at a Chesapeake Energy natural gas well site near Burlington, Pa., in Bradford County. (Ralph Wilson/AP Photo, file)

    In this April 23, 2010 file photo, workers move a section of well casing into place at a Chesapeake Energy natural gas well site near Burlington, Pa., in Bradford County. (Ralph Wilson/AP Photo, file)

    How much should natural gas drillers be giving back to the commonwealth? The Corbett administration says they’ve done a lot for Pennsylvania. But, for years, Democrats have pushed for more.

    Now, a Republican lawmaker from Bucks County also wants more from the industry.

    Pennsylvania will be staring down a big budget gap next year. So, Rep. Gene DiGirolamo wants natural gas drillers to pay a severance tax based on how much gas they sell. He’s proposing a tax rate of less than 5 percent.

    That would generate more revenue than the flat impact fee Pennsylvania currently charges for every well drilled, he said.

    “It’s certainly not what I’d call a game changer,” he added.

    Terry Madonna, a political scientist at Franklin & Marshall College, has seen this debate play out in the Legislature before.

    The Pennsylvania GOP – from the governor on down – has stood behind the impact fee.

    “The House is filled with 25, 30 members who’ve voted for no tax hike, no fee hike pledge when they were elected,” he said.

    And Madonna said they won’t be backing down any time soon – not in an election year.

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