As occurred during his 2010 race for governor, Tom Corbett is capturing large donations from the natural gas industry — an industry that apparently fears the 5 percent severance tax that Corbett’s Democratic opponent, Tom Wolf, has vowed to impose on drilling activity, particularly in the Marcellus Shale.
Nearly $1 million that will ultimately benefit Corbett’s reelection bid arrived in January from executives of the Ariel Corp., an Ohio firm that builds compressors used to extract natural gas from Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale formation.
In February, according to state campaign-finance records, about $240,000 arrived from the president of Chief Oil & Gas, a Texas company that leases 200,000-plus acres in Northeastern Pennsylvania for natural gas drilling and exploration.
Much of the money is being routed through a PAC operated by the Republican Governors Association. And experts note that the Pennsylvania public increasingly seems to favor the severance tax opposed by the industry. “Corbett is inching toward an untenable position where his stance on this issue goes more and more against what the public would like,” one observer told the Inky. “At the same time, the high support from the shale gas industry leaves him in a difficult position for finding compromise.”