Collapse of natural gas tax discussion strains state

    Governor Ed Rendell says efforts to negotiate a tax on natural gas extraction in Pennsylvania are dead. The failure to negotiate a tax with Senate Republicans leaves the state with a larger deficit.

    Governor Ed Rendell says efforts to negotiate a tax on natural gas extraction in Pennsylvania are dead. The failure to negotiate a tax with Senate Republicans leaves the state with a larger deficit. But it also means local municipalities will continue to carry the increased costs associated with gas drilling.

    For some rural counties upstate, natural gas drilling is a double-edged sword. On the one hand it spurs economic development. But the activity also brings additional costs to social services.

    Drilling for natural gas in the Marcellus Shale reserve is moving very quickly in rural Bradford County.

    County Commissioner John Sullivan says the increased population has put a strain on emergency services.

    “We’re all volunteer fire companies and volunteer ambulances up here. And I would say they’re out one-third more than what they used to be because of increased traffic and accidents. You can only have so much volunteer, I can see where one day we’re gonna have to pay for these services.”

    Sullivan says he had hoped Harrisburg lawmakers would pass a tax on gas drilling and then allocate some of the revenue to impacted counties like Bradford.

    Governor Rendell is blaming the collapse of talks on what he calls a refusal by legislative Republicans to negotiate in good faith. Senate Republicans agree the tax won’t happen this year, but say their caucus is willing to continue talks.

    Rural Bradford County is the site of the state’s most rapid development of the underground gas reserve known as the Marcellus Shale.

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