Republicans Divided on Fracking Impact Fee

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Via Scott Detrow, Pete DeCoursey says the vote count is looking dicey for a Marcellus Shale tax. It is starting to look like a “local impact fee” bill cannot pass with only Republican votes:

Because for the 50 to 60 House GOP members who live in or near shale territory, and might vote for a bill, the Murt/DiGirolamo proposal is way too hot, meaning expensive, for them.

But for eastern members, the Corbett $50-million-or-so plan – with nothing for their districts – is way too cold.

Without 80 to 90 House GOP votes, the Democrats will demand a big fee/tax bill that will knock down the GOP votes for the bill to three-dozen or so.

It’s not clear that there is a large enough bipartisan coalition to pass the Murt/DiGirolamo proposal that some liberals like. You’re going to lose the Shale Republicans for straightforward reasons, but I think you’re also going to lose some eastern Tea Party-affiliated members who don’t want to be seen giving ground to liberals. Grover Norquist also probably thinks Murt/DiGirolamo is a tax, so most Republicans who took the No Tax Pledge probably aren’t going to vote for it.

I still say Democrats should block any action on this issue until after the 2012 elections. If Mitch McConnell was in charge of Harrisburg Democrats’ strategy, he would let this half-hearted Republican push for a Shale tax flame out.

It’s going to sap the momentum from Tom Corbett’s agenda if he makes this a top priority and then Republicans don’t have the votes. The best way to deplete Corbett’s political capital as quickly as possible is to deny him and the gas drillers a win on this. Plus, if Democrats can delay any action on this issue until after the 2012 elections, fracking activists are only going to get more radicalized. The more motivated environmentalists are, the bigger an issue this is going to be in 2012, and the more likely it is that a statewide severance tax and strong regulations get passed in the next legislature.

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