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Pennsylvania Statehouse Bought and Sold by Fracking Industry
By Steve Horn
Consider it official—the Pennsylvania statehouse has been bought and sold by the shale gas industry.
In a press release, Marcellus Money, a project of Common Cause of Pennsylvania and Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania laid out the sobering facts about the frackers' stranglehold over the PA state government, writing:
The natural gas industry and related trade groups have now given nearly $8 million to Pennsylvania state candidates and political committees since 2000…Top recipients of industry money given between 2000 and April 2012 were Governor Tom Corbett (R) with $1,813,205.59, Senate President Joseph Scarnati (R-25) with $359,145.72, Rep. Dave Reed (R-62) with $137,532.33, House Majority Leader Rep. Mike Turzai (R-28) with $98,600, and Sen. Don White (R-41) with $94,150.
Furthermore, between 2007-2012, the gas industry spent an astounding $15.7 million on lobbying the PA state legislature.
The overwhelming majority of the campaign cash flowed in the direction of Republican Party politicians between 2010-12. Individual GOP politicians and Political Action Committees (PACs) received $4.5 million from the gas industry during that time frame, while, on the other side of the aisle, Democratic Party politicians and PACs received roughly $650,000.
“The industry has largely had its way in Pennsylvania and has spent millions to put their friends in the state legislature and the Governor’s mansion,” said James Browning, regional director of state operations for Common Cause, in the press release. “The industry’s focus now is on protecting these investments and maintaining access to key elected officials.”
All the while, the oil and gas industry made record profits. As Climate Progress highlighted in February, the industry made roughly $1 trillion between 2001-2011.
“Pennsylvania politicians sold gas companies the right to pollute Pennsylvania’s land, air, and water for bargain basement prices,” said Josh McNeil, executive director of Conservation Voters of PA.
$23 million, as McNeil suggested, is a tiny investment to protect profits of roughly $1 trillion. To be precise, the gas industry's total expenditure for lobbying and political contributions in PA was .0023% of its total profit during that time period.
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