Pa. tax on natural gas drilling seems unlikely

    Those on favor of a state levy on the industry shift strategies to convince Gov.-elect Corbett taxing the business is a good move for the state.

    Republican Tom Corbett’s gubernatorial victory last week means the prospects for Pennsylvania enacting a tax on natural gas extraction are slim. Those lobbying for the tax are shifting their strategies.

    On the campaign trail, Corbett stated time and time again that he would not favor taxing the booming business of natural gas drilling.

    The towns and counties that are home to the bulk of drilling activities may be the biggest losers. They’ve seen their costs rise with damage to rural roads, and increased costs for emergency services. They were hoping for a cut of a state tax.

    Elum Herr is with the Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors. Herr said his new job will be to convince Gov.-elect Corbett that a tax on the natural gas industry is not the same as a tax on gas consumers.

    “These municipalities need the revenue to make sure they’re not footing the bill for a profit-making industry,” said Herr.

    Environmentalists had also pushed for the tax to fund conservation and cleanup efforts. Democratic state Rep. Greg Vitali said his job just got harder.

    “Those concerned with the environment, our role shifts from offense to defense. Last term we were in a position to move good issues forward,” said Vitali. “Now our job is to stop bad things from happening and mitigate the effects of damaging legislation.”

    Vitali said that, come June, Pennsylvania will face a $5 billion deficit. Republicans in both the House and Senate said they still support an industry tax. But without the governor’s approval, an industry tax is unlikely in the near future.

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