Inquirer Staff Writer
Tues., Mar. 30, 2010
FORT WORTH, Texas - Gov. Rendell, describing himself as the "best ally" of the natural-gas industry, has warned it that public opinion is turning against Marcellus Shale drilling, and that a tax on gas production is the best way to get Pennsylvanians to accept the practice.
In a talk before an energy conference in Dallas, Rendell said the natural-gas business was following "some bad advice" in resisting a Pennsylvania tax on production, and it could face a future backlash resulting in a far more severe tax "that will bleed the industry."
Since the governor's recorded comments Thursday at the conference, sponsored by the George W. Bush Institute and Southern Methodist University (his remarks can be heard at the institute's Web site), a spirited discussion has been sparked about the industry's difficulties communicating to the state's citizenry its positive aspects - jobs, economic development, a reduction in greenhouse gases, and less reliance on imported fuel - rather than the environmental drawbacks of the Marcellus drilling.
Telling his audience at the natural-gas conference that he has campaigned relentlessly to promote the industry in Pennsylvania, Rendell said he recently invited leading gas-drilling executives to the governor's mansion in Harrisburg to discuss a proposal to enact a wellhead-production levy like those in other states with severance taxes.
But only one drilling executive accepted the invitation, Rendell said during the roundtable discussion.
"Now, I have not said that publicly," Rendell said. "If I told the people of Pennsylvania that, there would be a sense of tremendous outrage.
Outraged yet??? Here's more:
"As governor, I've never had that experience before - I've never invited major CEOs, even to talk about things as difficult as taxes, to come to the residence and had them turn me down.
"So the industry is making mistake after mistake right now, and the tide of public opinion is turning, and even though it is truly the golden goose, we* could blow it."
*Uh-oh, whose governor is this???
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