Lobbyists open wallets to influence Pa. budget

from Philadelphia Inquirer 11/8/09 article titled
Lobbyists open wallets to influence Pa. budget:

note: the bold highlight is my doing:

“To natural-gas drillers, too, the writing was on the wall as early as February. That was when Rendell announced in his budget address that he was pushing for a new tax on the odorless, colorless gas found deep below Pennsylvania’s soil.

Rendell said the tax would bring in about $100 million this year, thanks to what he called the “gold rush” of new drilling for natural gas in the vast underground formation known as the Marcellus Shale.

But in late August, the governor – to the surprise of some of his aides – said drilling executives had convinced him that imposing the tax this year would stunt the growth of the industry. Rendell said he would abandon his push until next year. The companies won another major victory in the prolonged budget battle, persuading lawmakers to open up thousands of additional acres of state forest land to drillers despite the concerns of  environmentalists. The industry’s argument: The state could bring in more revenue by leasing the land to drillers than by taxing the gas extracted.

As a whole, the natural-gas industry reported spending about $1.6 million on lobbying thus far this year.

Range Resources Appalachia L.L.C., a Texas company that has invested heavily in drilling in the Marcellus Shale, led the way, spending $605,817 this year – nearly triple the expenditure of the next-closest natural-gas company, Chesapeake Appalachia L.L.C. By comparison, Range Resources reported spending less than $200,000 on lobbying here last year.

“Natural gas has a big story to tell and a good story to tell,” said Matthew M. Pitzarella, spokesman and registered lobbyist for Range Resources. “It is critically important that our elected leaders and regulators have a healthy understanding of modern natural-gas development and the potential for Pennsylvania.”

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