PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Jim Cawley is not exactly a household name yet, but the former Bucks County Commissioner is now the state’s lieutenant governor.

He has become the governor’s point person on the Marcellus Shale industry.

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At a taping of the “Sunday Business Page” Friday, Cawley addressed whether the Corbett administration was ready to tax this industry.

When it comes to taxing Marcellus shale drilling in Pennsylvania, when is a tax a tax or just a fee?

“We are absolutely ruling out a severance tax,” says Lt. Governor Cawley. “But we’re not ruling out an impact fee and we’re studying that right now.”

The lieutenant governor left open the possibility of taxing the Marcellus Shale industry when drilling causes an impact on the roads or environment of a particular community.

“If there are additional impacts, and that’s really what we’re studying right now, that are unmet, the governor has said very clearly that we need to be able to meet those impacts and that may indeed require those in the industry to spend more money,” says Cawley.

Cawley is chairing a Corbett-appointed commission looking into the state’s response to the growing Marcellus Shale industry.

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“It has the opportunity to be the largest economic engine in the state’s history,” he says. “Larger than coal, larger than timber, indeed, even larger than steel was in a bygone era.”

While Cawley acknowledges the importance of protecting the state’s environment, the lieutenant governor says it really comes down to jobs.

“That is the main focus of just about everything we are doing in this administration, creating an environment to empower the private sector to put people to work,” he explains.

Both Corbett and Cawley say they want to attract more drilling and jobs to this state.

But with some members of their Republican party now backing an impact fee, such a tax just might be included in the Cawley’s commission report to the Governor later this month.

Governor Cawley’s full interview can be seen this at 8:30 a.m. Sunday on the “Sunday Business Page.”

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