Democratic gubernatorial candidate Katie McGinty said today she views the Marcellus Shale as an important economic driver, while pressing for a severance tax on gas production.
“I don’t support a moratorium,” she said. “I think the responsible production and use of the Marcellus Shale gas is actually part of the secret sauce as to how we will create jobs and how we will compete and win.”
McGinty was addressing the Pennsylvania Press Club in Harrisburg. She’s a former Department of Environmental Protection secretary who is now part of a crowded, eight-candidate field of Democrats hoping to defeat Governor Corbett this fall.
Act 13 decision
McGinty also weighed in on the state Supreme Court’s decision last month to strike down portions of Act 13– Pennsylvania’s two-year-old oil and gas law.
“I absolutely agree that it was the right thing to do—to reinstate the ability of local communities to have reasonable zoning authority,” she said of the court decision. “I also think we ought to have repealed the physician gag order. It does not comport with a democracy. It should never have been part of the law.”
The so-called “doctor-gag rule” in Act 13 has some medical professionals concerned they could get in trouble for disclosing chemical trade secrets associated with gas drilling. Last month the state Supreme Court sent a doctor’s legal challenge back to the lower Commonwealth Court.
Impact fee vs. severance tax
Gas companies currently pay a flat fee of $45,000 for each Marcellus well they drill. Over the past two years the impact fee has brought in about $406 million.
McGinty said as governor, she would work with the legislature to impose a “competitive severance tax” on natural gas production.
“I would get to work in attracting those businesses and industries that can and should be in Pennsylvania– using that gas as a feedstock– [such as] chemicals, life sciences, pharmaceuticals and grow our economy in a sustainable way.”
If elected, McGinty also said she would take a close look at the allegations among some landowners that they are being cheated out of royalty payments.
“I’m very concerned about those stories,” she said. “If you’re going to be a major player in Pennsylvania, you’ve got to play by the rules. I would be on top of that situation to make sure that people are being treated fairly.”