Back when the Legislature was debating this year's budget, it decided against a tax on drilling for natural gas (while at the same time opening up large tracts of land to natural gas prospecting).

Now, it looks like a gas drilling tax will be an issue in the upcoming gubernatorial race.

Two Democrats, Philadelphia businessman Tom Knox and Montgomery County Commissioner Joe Hoeffel, released competing plans yesterday for how the state could tax drilling.

Knox's plan calls for raising $100 million annually through new drilling fees. That money would go into a new Energy Development Fund, which would support green goals like green jobs training and energy efficiency tax credits, according to an article in The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Hoeffel's proposal would levy a 5-percent tax on the value of gas production. That money would also be funneled to green initiatives like cleaning up water and abandoned industrial sites.

It's hard to compare the proposals since Knox didn't specify the tax rate he wanted to levy, and Hoeffel didn't give an estimate on the revenue his proposal would take in. But it's nice to see this issue remaining part of the conversation. We've written about why before:

Companies mining natural gas in Pennsylvania do not pay for the privilege, while they must in every other state. It's outrageous considering the environmental damage done by mining companies and the cuts to state conservation programs.

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