Fracking hot-button issue in Pa gubernatorial race

MGN Online

Kyle Gorcey, Chief Sports Photographer

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Out of all the issues in the 2014 Pennsylvania gubernatorial race, the issue on taxing the extraction of natural gas is in the forefront as the Keystone State cements itself as the number two producer of natural gas in the United States.

Current Republican governor Tom Corbett already instituted an impact fee, while the Democratic challenger, Tom Wolf, believes that taxes should be expanded.

Under Corbett’s leadership, through the three years of the impact fee, the state earned $204 million in 2011, $202 million in 2012 and $224 million in 2013, equaling a total of $630 million.

“Pennsylvania is sitting on one of the largest deposits of natural gas in the world, the Marcellus Shale formation, which stretches from our northeast to southwest corner. With new drilling techniques we can now efficiently unlock these massive natural gas deposits that lie beneath huge portions of our state,” Wolf said on his website. “Experts estimate there might be as much as 50 trillion cubic feet of recoverable natural gas beneath Pennsylvania’s soil. That would make our commonwealth the Saudi Arabia of natural gas and, if managed correctly, transform our economy.”

West Virginia currently has a five percent tax, meaning they would have made $425 million in 2013.

Wolf has proposed a five percent tax on extraction, where the impact fee would equate to 1.3 percent.

On increasing an extraction tax, Corbett said, “I think it’s more important to come up with a good policy rather than jamming one through under budget-deadline pressures.”

Several bills have passed through the Pennsylvania senate and house, but have not gotten past the governor’s desk.

Corbett instituted $1.2 billion worth of tax breaks for companies extracting natural gas in Pennsylvania.

Chances are high that whoever has the plan on natural gas taxation that aligns with popular opinion will be elected Governor in Pennsylvania.

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