Pa. state Democrats pushing for gas tax

    One of the top proponents of a natural gas tax in Pennsylvania says the measure’s fate will be decided within the next few weeks.

    One of the top proponents of a natural gas tax in Pennsylvania says the measure’s fate will be decided within the next few weeks.

    The House’s tax bill includes an eight percent levy on natural gas drilling.

    Delaware County Democrat Greg Vitali has been fighting for the tax since last year.

    He’s also a prime sponsor of the bill imposing a three-year moratorium on leasing out state forest land for drilling.

    Vitali argues the Republican-controlled Senate won’t pass either measure unless House Democratic leaders use them as leverage in upcoming budget negotiations.

    “It has to be done,” says Vitali. “If our leadership tells us, ‘well, we’re just going to kick this down the road for another month,’ we know that’s the equivalent of saying it’s not going to get done.”

    Vitali and other supporters of a moratorium and severance tax say the recent Clearfield County spill shows the potential dangers of Marcellus Shale drilling.

    They want a significant portion of tax revenue to go to environmental protection efforts, rather than the state’s general fund.

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