Senate jams shale tax, industry permits into unhappy package

Written by The Associated Press | Aug 6, 2017 8:26 AM

 (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

(Harrisburg) -- Environmental advocates for years have sought a tax on Pennsylvania's Marcellus Shale natural gas production while business associations have sought speedier state consideration of permits for the activities of polluting industries.

Now, legislation approved by the Republican-controlled state Senate gave both provisions an unexpected and unwelcome passenger: each other.

The compromise package became public July 26 as lawmakers worked to break a stalemate over balancing a gaping hole in Pennsylvania's deficit-riddled budget.

Within hours, senators passed it 26-24.

It has an uncertain future in the House of Representatives.

It faces a likely lawsuit from environmental groups should it become law over what they see as multiple transgressions of the state constitution.

Business groups feel their members shouldn't have to absorb a tax simply to get efficient consideration of a permit application.

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