2010-09-30 / Local & State

House Chief Plans Pennsylvanian Shale Tax Vote Next Week

By Marc Levy

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) – Pennsylvania’s House majority leader said Friday that he plans to hold a vote next week on legislation to impose a tax on Marcellus Shale natural gas extraction.

Pennsylvania is the largest natural gas-producing state that does not tax the methane drawn from beneath its ground.

Todd Eachus, D-Luzerne, said he will press for a minimum tax of 39 cents per thousand cubic feet. He estimated it would collect more than $300 million in a full year – more than Gov. Ed Rendell has estimated his tax plan would collect.

Opponents have warned that a tax will cause drilling companies to move rigs, crews and investment elsewhere, but Eachus said that was fear-mongering designed to help the industry avoid paying its fair share.

“I believe you can have the economic activity and job creation, but also have an extra tax that brings back resources to protect clean water and communities where drilling is taking place,’’ he said.

Under Eachus’ plan, 60 percent of the money would go into the state treasury to help ease a multibillion-dollar deficit that is expected in the next two years. The rest would go toward communities and environmental protection.

Eachus said he plans floor votes Tuesday on some 30 amendments and then a final vote Wednesday to send the bill to the Senate.

Such a vote has been anticipated for months as House Democratic leaders worked to find consensus among their rank-and-file. Leaders of the Republicancontrolled Senate are expected to pursue a plan with a significantly lower tax rate.

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