Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Marcellus Shale Legislation Sponsored by GOP Pennsylvanians

The clock is ticking for lawmakers to levy a severance tax on natural gas extraction for Marcellus Shale.
On Tuesday, as the four caucuses inched closer to their intended Oct. 1 deadline, House Republicans unveiled a plan to change the state fleet of vehicles to use natural gas instead of gasoline.
State Rep. Stan Saylor (R-Red Lion) said the plan is not a House G.O.P. statement against a severance tax. Each member will decide whether to support a tax if it comes to a vote.
Now, it's up to everyone to come to an agreement on a tax in just a few weeks.
"No state has taken up the challenge T. Boone Pickens put out there, as he has talked about other states using our natural resources to clean and up and create jobs, somebody has to be first," said Saylor, who is also the Republican policy chairman.
Surrounded by a dozen House G.O.P. Members, Saylor thinks Pennsylvania should start the trend. The conversion of the state's 16, 000 car fleet to natural gas would cost about $10 million and take about three years to see the savings.
The move to natural gas-powered vehicles is part of the Republican plan dubbed "Marcellus Works."
Because the Republicans are in the minority in the House, they can't call a vote on the bills. However, their votes remain important to the House Democrats looking to pass a severance tax.
At this point, House Democrats want the most expensive tax of its kind in the nation. It's a drastic difference to the Senate Republicans' plan to have a 1.5 percent tax that, after five years, would gradually reach 5 percent.
"It's a complicated and complex area. Taxes are a part of it," said state Sen. Jay Costa (D-Allegheny).
Costa is negotiating the tax and said they need to find a middle ground, especially on other concerns besides the tax, like the environment and how they will drive resources.
"We need those resources to be able to drive back into the general fund and make sure to have the appropriate resources to protect roadways ... and protect waterways," said Costa.
Gov. Ed Rendell has said all along that he wants a 5 percent tax, hoping to generate $288 million. Without a tax in place, it will leave a hole in the budget.
Some are doubting that legislators will come to an agreement this session.

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