From the Associated Press:
Pennsylvania House Republicans pushed through three tax credit programs Wednesday that are designed to capitalize on the Marcellus shale drilling boom.
The program will encourage companies to use more natural-gas powered vehicles and to give them more convenient places to refuel.
Supporters of the measures, which are part of the House GOP's "Marcellus Works" package, said they would increase employment, improve the environment and lead the state away from dependence on foreign oil.
"It's time for us to understand that if this state is to grow and prosper, we've got to get out of the 20th century and into the 21st," said Majority Whip Stan Saylor, R-York.
But Democratic opponents called them hand-outs to big business and expressed skepticism that the job creation predictions will prove accurate.
"These unfunded corporate giveaways help the few at the cost of the many," said Minority Whip Mike Hanna, D-Clinton.
All three measures were approved largely on the strength of Republican support, but several members from both parties crossed partisan lines for each vote. The bills were sent to the state Senate.
The first is a $25 million tax credit to help companies convert an estimated 1,000 medium-sized fleet vehicles to natural gas. The second amounts to a $5 million credit for building 10 refueling stations in certain high-traffic corridors. And the third is a three-year program to subsidize the purchase of heavy duty vehicles that run on natural gas.
Rep. Phyllis Mundy, D-Luzerne, said legislative Republicans and GOP Gov. Tom Corbett "already have heavily subsidized the industry at public expense" by enacting an impact fee on natural gas drilling that is lower than what other states get from an extraction tax.
"The House should ... reject this corporate welfare for the wealthiest, multistate, multinational companies on the planet," Mundy said.
Saylor said he does not expect any of the money to go to large corporations, and that Democratic President Barack Obama and some other states have been making a push to increase the use of natural gas in vehicles.
Hanna said nothing in the fueling stations bill directs the money to smaller businesses.
Chesapeake Energy Corp,the Oklahoma-based firm is the No. 1 driller in Ohio.
Rig Count Interactive Map by Baker Hughes, an energy services company.
Shale Sheet Fracking, a Youngstown Vindicator blog.
The Ohio Environmental Council, a statewide eco-group based in Columbus.
Earthjustice, a national eco-group.
People's Oil and Gas Collaborative-Ohio, a grass-roots group in Northeast Ohio.
Concerned Citizens of Medina County, a grass-roots group.
No Frack Ohio, a Columbus-based grass-roots group.
Fracking: Gas Drilling's Environmental Threat by ProPublica, an online journalism site.
Pipeline, blog from Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Marcellus shale drilling.
Allegheny Front, environmental public radio for Western Pennsylvania.