HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — The largest organization representing companies involved in Pennsylvania's natural gas drilling boom waded into gubernatorial politics Thursday and attacked proposals to raise taxes on the industry by various would-be Democratic challengers to Governor Tom Corbett. The Marcellus Shale Coalition issued a statement criticizing tax proposals that it said were being touted by gubernatorial candidates it did not identify. A spokesman later pointed to statements by six different candidates seeking the Democratic Party nomination favoring similar severance tax proposals that could raise more than $1 billion a year from the industry.
The coalition statement warned that companies would take their money to other states. "It would be irresponsible and ill-advised to advance massive new energy taxes that would strike an unnecessary blow to one of our economy's most important, thriving and promising sectors," the statement said.
Corbett, a Republican widely viewed as a strong industry ally, fought proposals to slap a tax or a fee on the booming industry before agreeing in 2012 to an "impact fee" that is currently generating about $200 million a year for state programs and drilling communities. The Corbett campaign, regarding U.S. Representative Allyson Schwartz as the leading Democratic contender, has attacked her recent proposal to add a five percent tax to the value of gas produced from Pennsylvania's Marcellus Shale. On Thursday, the campaign emailed a copy of the Marcellus Shale Coalition statement, along with its own statement warning of the Democrats' proposals.
Pennsylvania does not currently tax gas production. Many other states impose a grab bag of taxes or fees. The Marcellus Shale Coalition said the corporate tax burden is lower in other big gas states and such a tax in Pennsylvania risks hurting investment and hiring. Democrats say a severance tax would bring Pennsylvania in line with other states.
Former Governor Ed Rendell, a Democrat, also supported a five percent severance tax on production, but the proposal stalled in the Republican-controlled Senate.
The largest organization representing companies involved in Pennsylvania's natural gas drilling boom have attacked proposals to raise taxes on the industry by various challengers to Governor Tom Corbett. The Marcellus Shale Coalition issued a statement criticizing tax proposals that it said were being touted by gubernatorial candidates.