The editorial on April 23 urging taxation of the natural-gas industry ("Drillers should pay a tax") advanced the argument that such a move would help protect and pay for accidents and missteps when it comes to our valuable watersheds. Actually, though, our common-law heritage of riparian rights might make recourse to civil or criminal law a more appropriate remedy.
Still, Gov. Corbett ought to rethink his position on two ends: the front end (the existing resources sitting in the ground) and the back end (the severance of those resources from the ground).
Local governments struggling to pay their bills and getting less aid from the state ought to assess and tax the mineral rights that lie inside the land. Unfortunately, in 2002, the state's Supreme Court decided that, unlike coal, gravel and other minerals, as well as oil and gas, were somehow not land. That decision should be remedied by a new law.