Shale gas picked up some kudos in the prepared speech Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett delivered Tuesday to discuss his proposed $29.4 billion budget, but no mention was made of controversies surrounding it, such as a possible severance tax or the ongoing legal battle over Act 13, the state's omnibus Marcellus Shale law.
The Republican governor lauded the state for becoming the nation's second-largest producer of natural gas in just a few years' time, and he said shale gas is an important component for the energy independence of the United States.
"We are very fortunate, and we can be very proud, that the shale gas revolution is happening right here in Pennsylvania," Corbett said. "Go to Williamsport and you won't doubt the difference that this industry is making for our state...shale gas has made that region one of the top ten fastest-growing local economies in the country."
Corbett added that shale gas development is "lifting up entire communities, creating and supporting many thousands of jobs well beyond gas production. The revival extends to manufacturing, as leading companies put Pennsylvania back on the map for investment and growth. And it's reducing home energy costs, right now, for Pennsylvanians.
"Big things are in motion, and shale gas is the power behind it all. It's great for Pennsylvania and even greater for the United States."
Battling criticism of Pennsylvania's impact fee on gas production, the governor said the state was "smart enough...to craft a responsible impact fee" which he said will have generated more than $600 million in less than three years. "It's very simple; energy equals jobs," he said.
Corbett, who is running for reelection in November, remains staunchly opposed to enacting a severance tax (see Shale Daily, Feb. 8, 2012). But several Democratic candidates for governor, as well as several policy research groups, assert that the state would be better served by a severance tax (see Shale Daily, Jan. 28;Sept. 9, 2013; Sept. 6, 2013). Legislators in the General Assembly have also introduced bills calling for one.
Last December, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court struck down portions of Act 13 on the grounds that it violated municipalities' rights to create and enforce zoning laws (see Shale Daily, Dec. 20, 2013). The ruling left the impact fee intact. Corbett called the court’s ruling "unacceptable," and the state Department of Environmental Protection and the Public Utilities Commission have filed a motion asking the court to reconsider (see Shale Daily, Jan. 6;Jan. 3; Dec. 27, 2013).