Harrisburg hears pros and cons over natural gas drilling tax

    Dueling press conferences in Harrisburg yesterday put the spotlight on the debate over whether to impose a tax on natural gas extractions in Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale.

    Governor Rendell wants to impose a five percent tax on natural gas drilled from the Marcellus Shale formation, which experts say has the potential to develop into a major domestic energy source in the coming years.

    Environmental group PennFuture held an event at the Capitol’s media center supporting the plan, and urging lawmakers to set aside a portion of tax revenues for environmental protection efforts.

    House Majority Leader Todd Eachus, a Luzerne County Democrat, spoke at the event.

    Eachus: This is an opportunity at the beginning of a process to make sure that we guarantee that we do not make the fundamental historical mistakes of natural resource extraction that we’ve seen in Pennsylvania time and time again.

    Down the hall, at the exact same time, lawmakers and representatives from the energy industry were decrying the severance tax, saying it would drive drillers out of the Commonwealth and cost Pennsylvania millions of dollars in lost jobs and revenue.

    Rendell says a shale tax would bring in $107 million in the coming fiscal year.

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