Natural gas drillers in Pennsylvania have for nearly 14 years been allowed to extract gas from the marcellus shale formation without paying a the state a severance tax. Thanks to a caucus of bought-and-paid-for state legislators (hello, GOP majorities), huge multi-national energy corporations have gotten out of paying hundreds of millions of dollars into Pennsylvania’s chronically underfunded state budget. The industry — via its mouthpiece Marcellus Shale Coalition — claims such a levy would cause economic chaos and hobble the industry statewide. Given that the industry pays a severance tax in every other major gas-producing state, its claims would be laughable were they not so tired and shopworn.