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Tom Corbett Fuzzy on Policy, Crystal Clear in Defense of Big Donors

Tom Corbett Fuzzy on Policy, Crystal Clear in Defense of Big Donors

Oil and gas industry’s ‘most-favored-candidate’ shifts his energy policy when asked tough questions by press
PITTSBURGH: As a new study revealed potential environmental hazards of gas drilling, Harrisburg Republican Tom Corbett was bending over backwards yesterday to explain his own fiscal policies while still catering to his big donors in the oil and gas industry.
Today’s Harrisburg Patriot-News reports that: “Thursday, Corbett’s campaign website included language about his plans to ‘implement royalty fees on natural gas production.’ That passage was removed from his energy policy summary following questions from The Patriot-News. A spokesman for Corbett, the Republican nominee, said the summary wasn’t wrong; it was just ‘more accurate’ without the bit about implementing fees.”
Say what?
Is Corbett proposing a new fee on Pennsylvania homeowners who receive royalties from natural gas leases on their private property? After all, two weeks ago, Corbett proposed a $3 billion payroll tax hike on Pennsylvania workers – as he prefers to call it, a mandatory “contribution.”
Or is Corbett – who has railed against state government raiding special funds in order to balance the budget – saying that his budget plan would raid the Oil & Gas Lease Fund (where the state’s revenue from natural gas royalty fees on State Forest lands is deposited) to balance the budget?
Or is it that Corbett doesn’t even know what he’s saying?
Either way, one thing is clear, as the Patriot-News pointed out: “The fact his energy policy speaks in the specialized tongue of the gas industry highlights Corbett’s most-favored-candidate status within that industry.”
Meanwhile, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported that “a preliminary study by Academy of Natural Sciences researchers suggests that even without spills or other accidents, drilling for natural gas in Pennsylvania’s rich Marcellus Shale formation could degrade nearby streams.”
Corbett wants the taxpayers to pay for addressing these environmental problems. He opposes a severance tax like all other gas-producing states already have, so that the oil and gas industry can police itself and force residents and businesses to bear the costs of drilling and environmental clean-up.
Even Corbett’s allies in the Senate Republican caucus have agreed to enact a severance tax and 12 House Republicans voted for a severance tax just weeks ago, putting Corbett in the extreme wing of his party.
A May report by Common Cause Pennsylvania revealed that Corbett is the #1 Pennsylvania recipient of contributions from the gas industry over the last decade. The oil and gas industry also helped save Corbett’s political career during his initial tight race for Attorney General in 2004. At the time, Corbett refused to reveal the source of nearly a half-million dollars funneled through the Republican State Leadership Committee, but campaign finance filings later made clear that the bulk of it was from the CEO of an Oklahoma oil-and-gas company.
“Tom Corbett isn’t clear on policy, but he is steadfast in doing the bidding of his Big Oil & Gas donors,” said Onorato Communications Director Brian Herman. “Dan Onorato is the only candidate who is going to protect the taxpayers while ensuring that the Marcellus shale creates jobs for Pennsylvanians.”
Onorato has issued a detailed policy paper calling for the successful and safe development of Marcellus shale resources in order to create jobs for Pennsylvanians, foster economic development and protect the environment. His plan includes environmental safeguards and a workforce development strategy to ensure that Pennsylvanians are ready for Marcellus shale-related employment.
Onorato backs a competitive severance tax on Marcellus shale drilling, and he would use the proceeds to fund enforcement by the Department of Environmental Protection, to help local communities address the impact of drilling on their roads and other services, and to pay for the renewal of Growing Greener – the state’s major environmental conservation and preservation programs.

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