Posts Tagged ‘Senate Majority Leader’

Governor reconsiders tax on gas from Marcellus Shale

Saying plan likely will be revived in 2010, Rendell adds that he wants industry to get off to a good start.

AMY WORDEN and MARIO F. CATTABIANI The Philadelphia Inquirer

HARRISBURG – Gov. Rendell said Monday after meeting with industry officials that he would agree to delay his push to impose a tax on natural gas extracted from the Marcellus Shale.

This natural gas drilling rig is being operated by Union Drilling Inc. on Beaver Lake Road in Hughesville, Lycoming County.

“It won’t be in the mix this year,” he said, adding that he would likely revive the proposal next year. “We felt we should let the industry get off to a good start, and that surpasses our need for money.”

For months, Rendell had lobbied for the tax on the gas-rich Marcellus Shale reserve. At one point, the administration estimated it could produce $100 million in revenue in the first year.

But the Democratic governor said on Monday that he reconsidered the idea after watching natural gas prices plummet to near-record lows and meeting with industry representatives who have invested millions to explore the natural gas reserve hundreds of feet beneath the ground.

The Marcellus Shale is a vein of rock containing vast reserves, running hundreds of feet below ground from New York to Virginia. Its exploration and extraction – estimated to be worth billions – has been made possible in recent years by advances in technology.

Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi, R- Delaware County, said it was no surprise that Rendell had abandoned the effort, noting that taxing an industry in its infancy was an unpopular move even among some members of Rendell’s own party.

“The governor has recognized the realities of the situation,” Pileggi said.

Although Rendell said he was no longer interested in the tax this year, Democrats who control the state House said it remained among the mix of possible revenue sources.

“It is definitely not off the table,” said Johnna A. Pro, press secretary to House Appropriations Chairman Dwight Evans, D-Philadelphia.

Other so-called niche taxes still on the table include higher cigarette taxes and a new levy on smokeless tobacco. Also under consideration is the elimination of a slew of long-standing sales-tax exemptions on such items as candy and gum, land-based phones, and basic cable. Rendell has said the removal of exemptions on all items except food and clothing and certain services could generate $1 billion.

Copyright: Times Leader