The passage of Pennsylvania's 2010-11 budget left the issue of a severance tax on natural gas extracted from Marcellus Shale up in the air. There is an agreement in Harrisburg that some tax will be passed by October 1st. Those revenues are needed to balance the spending plan.
Gas companies have already begun an advertising campaign opposing any type of tax.
Truth be told, the gas companies would LOVE a tax. Not an exorbitant tax, but a tax.
The coalition opposed to drilling is pushing for a moratorium. The group questions the safety of not only the actual drilling but the potentially toxic cocktail of chemicals used to fracture the shale and release the gas. They are gaining momentum.
But when lawmakers consider the tax, the debate will shift the focus off the environment and public safety and onto money. Faced with a threat of higher taxes, many will support some type of extraction tax and that's when the gas companies win.
Economics versus the environment?
Jobs versus higher unemployment? (I'm all for jobs, but not just doctors, nurses and deputy coroners.)
When Pennsylvania becomes dependant on the revenues from a gas tax it will become difficult if not impossible to stop the drilling no matter the reason.
Three card monte? How about two card monte?
No matter which card you choose, you lose.