Maryland House Votes to Tax Non-Existent Shale Drilling

From the “things that amuse us from Maryland” file: The Maryland House of Delegates passed a vote on a severance tax on shale gas drilling in the state. They generously reduced the original proposal from a 15 percent tax down to 7.5 percent. Thing is, there is no shale gas drilling in the state and there won’t be until 2014 at the earliest when a report commissioned by Gov. Martin O’Malley is due. And it’s a big “if” as to whether or not Maryland will ever allow drilling. The House seems awfully eager to tax something they haven’t even decided they will allow.

The House of Delegates has passed a 7.5 percent state severance tax on the wholesale market value of natural gas extracted from the Marcellus Shale in western Maryland.

The House voted 82-51 on Monday evening to approve the measure. Last week, lawmakers changed the bill to cut the initially proposed tax in half from 15 percent.

The bill creates a fund for the Maryland Department of the Environment to help pay for any negative effects from drilling.

Supporters say the money will be needed, if the state decides to allow drilling, in order to protect residents and the environment from any damage resulting from drilling.

But opponents say it will only discourage companies from wanting to drill in Maryland. The bill now goes to the Senate.*

*Fox 45 Baltimore (Mar 26, 2012) – Fracking Bill

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