ANNAPOLIS, Md. - The House of Delegates has passed a 7.5 percent state severance tax on the wholesale market value of natural gas extracted from the Marcellus Shale in western Maryland.
The House voted 82-51 on Monday evening to approve the measure.
Last week, lawmakers changed the bill to cut the initially proposed tax in half from 15 percent.
The bill creates a fund for the Maryland Department of the Environment to help pay for any negative effects from drilling.
Supporters say the money will be needed, if the state decides to allow drilling, in order to protect residents and the environment from any damage resulting from drilling. But opponents say it will only discourage companies from wanting to drill in Maryland.
The bill now goes to the Senate.
(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)