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Pennsylvania eyes natural gas tax on biggest US find

Gas tax – or levy – gains momentum in Pennsylvania legislature. But governor opposes natural gas tax.

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Chief spokeswoman Kristi Gittins said in an email that the company investigated Stroud's claim and "found no evidence to date that we were the cause of the alleged contamination of her water well."

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In March, Stroud said she became mysteriously sick — her speech slurred, her balance faltered, her hands trembled, her hair fell out, and her heart rate and blood pressure rose. Then a laboratory told her on April 11 that her water well was contaminated with barium, chloride, strontium, manganese, lead, methane, radiological material and radon, she said.

Barium levels in her and her son's blood were sky high, she said, and she soon found that many others in heavily drilled Bradford County were contracting mysterious illnesses and discovering polluted well water.

"Every day, I struggle with the fact we cannot trust our government to protect its people," she said, winning shouts of approval from the crowd.

Corbett's spokesman Kevin Harley said the state departments of Environmental Protection and Health both have active investigations into Stroud's claims, and the DEP has been in contact with her a number of times.

"The governor wants to develop this industry in an economically and environmentally responsible fashion and that's what he's doing," Harley said.

The Marcellus Shale formation, which is considered the nation's largest-known natural gas reservoir, lies primarily beneath Pennsylvania, New York, West Virginia and Ohio. Pennsylvania is the center of activity, with more than 3,000 wells drilled in the past three years and thousands more planned in the coming years as thick shale emerges as an affordable, plentiful and profitable source of natural gas.

After the rally, "Gasland" filmmaker Josh Fox, Stroud and two other women who oppose drilling went to find Corbett at his Capitol office.

But doors to Corbett's offices were shut, and more than 15 police officers and members of Capitol security watched as dozens of sign-toting and chanting demonstrators planted themselves in the hallway outside for more than an hour.

"We have shown the ugliness, the cowardice of this administration," Fox told the demonstrators, and then he referred to the campaign contributions that Corbett received in his 2009-10 campaign for governor from people connected to the natural gas industry. "I'm sure if we had $900,000 we could probably get through."

The governor was in his offices in scheduled meetings, Harley said.

"Usually when you go and scream and pound on the door, it's not the most effective means to get a meeting with the governor," Harley said.