Public support for a state-imposed tax on natural gas drilling in Pennsylvania's Marcellus Shale region remains solid, according to the results of a survey of 800 registered voters conducted between Dec. 27 and Jan. 2.
Sixty-three percent of those responding said they support a tax on drilling as one possible source of new revenue for the state, according to the statewide poll, which was conducted by Susquehanna Polling & Research for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. The tax received strong support from both Democrats (69%) and Republicans (56%). Only 25% of respondents said they oppose the tax, including 21% of Democrats and 31% of Republicans.
Another recent survey of Pennsylvania residents found that 67% of respondents would support a severance tax on drilling companies, while just 29% said they oppose such a tax (see Shale Daily, Dec. 28, 2010).
Gov.-elect Tom Corbett, who is scheduled to be inaugurated in Harrisburg Tuesday, during his campaign vowed "no new taxes" and said he opposed a severance tax on natural gas (see Shale Daily, Oct. 28, 2010). But while a natural gas tax isn't likely, Corbett recently told the Tribune-Review that he will "look at what the legislature proposes" (see Shale Daily, Jan. 5).
Corbett and the incoming General Assembly, which will have Republican majorities in both chambers, are being pressured to levy a tax on the drilling industry to help close a projected $4 billion revenue shortfall.
Outgoing Gov. Ed Rendell recently told reporters that he thinks Corbett and the Republican majorities in Harrisburg will pass a fee on Marcellus Shale producers. "And the fee, at the very least, will go to compensate local and county governments," Rendell said, according to The Morning Call. "So I think there will be some level of revenue coming from the shale producers. Not probably a large number. It will not be what they pay in other states, but there will be some."
John Hanger, who served as Rendell's Department of Environmental Protection Secretary, last week told NGI's Shale Daily that the new administration must pass a reasonable tax on natural gas drilling (see Shale Daily, Jan. 14).
Despite commitments during last year's budget negotiations to pass a severance tax on gas drillers, Pennsylvania lawmakers balked on the issue during a lame duck session (see Shale Daily, Nov. 18, 2010).