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Natural gas industry squares off against Pennsylvania Dems pushing to tax fracking

In a completely expected move, a coalition of natural gas drilling companies in Pennsylvania came out last week against higher taxes on natural gas drilling companies in Pennsylvania.

The Marcellus Shale Coalition, that industry group, on Thursday blasted plans from a variety of Democrats’ gubernatorial hopefuls who say they want to increase the taxes paid by the natural gas industry for tapping the state’s natural gas reserves. Drillers in Pennsylvania pay a so-called impact fee to the state and local governments – drillers have paid more than $400 million since the fee was imposed in 2012 – but Democrats want to increase the rate and use it to fund a range of state-level programs that have nothing to do with drilling.

“Every square inch of the Commonwealth is benefiting from this generational opportunity,” the coalition said in a statement. “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.”

It’s hardly surprising. After all, what industry would not oppose a politically driven effort to single them out for higher tax rates?

But there is more to the story, and it’s a story voters will hear plenty about in the next year.

With Gov. Tom Corbett looking like one of the most vulnerable governors in the country for the 2014 election cycle, the natural gas industry figures to be one of his most important allies.

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