Portal:Water/Spotlight on Campaign Donations and Lobbying

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In a study titled "Deep Drilling, Deep Pockets: The Campaign Contributions and Lobbying Expenditures of the Natural Gas Industry in Pennsylvania," Common Cause documented the flow of money from the oil and gas industry to Pennsylvania politicians, and how it impacted their behaviors. The report reveals that the "natural" gas industry gave $2.85 million to political candidates in Pennsylvania between 2001 and 2010, with the campaign contributions increasing particularly post 2005, and 2008. In addition, the report revealed that the industry spent $4.2 million on lobbying since 2007. The authors write that the state has no real limit to campaign contributions and that the data is not easily searchable by citizens.

The report reveals that Tom Corbett, the current Republican Governor of Pennsylvania received over $360,000 in industry contributions since 2001, which is over three and a half times the amount of contributions received by any other politician in the state. Corbett's opponent in the 2010 race for governor, Dan Onorato, received roughly $60,000 in campaign funding, putting him at seventh on the list of top 25 recipients of industry contributions from 2001 through April 2010. Former Democratic Governor Ed Rendell received over $84,000 in campaign contributions from the gas and oil industry since 2001, and has called himself the industry's "best ally," even though the industry gave nearly four time as much in contributions to his opponent. Republicans received 84% of contributions ($2.28 million) and Democrats received 16% ($428,000), according to Common Cause.

Common Cause has since created a campaign finance database dedicated to tracking the vast influence of money from "natural" gas drilling companies in the state-level elections in the state of Pennsylvania. According to the database, $3,442,212 was donated to elected officials currently in office in PA. The top recipient for the 2010 election was Governor Tom Corbett, with a total $1,634,096 recieved in contributions from the "natural" gas industry. He was followed by Senate President Pro Tempore Joseph Scarnati, who received $293,333.

Common Cause of New York released a three-part series called "Deep Drilling, Deep Pockets: Expenditures of the Natural Gas Industry in New York to Influence Public Policy." The decision on whether to allow fracking in New York is still under review. The report is intended to "assist the public in monitoring this difficult decision and how it is made, Common Cause/New York has continued and expanded its analysis of lobbying expenditures by those who seek to influence this critical decision." The report reveals that the most active lobbying efforts in New York were put forth by Exxon, Chesapeake Energy, and Cabot Oil and Gas. These companies have melded together as a collective "trade association" that goes by the name of Independent Oil and Gas Association, resembling Pennsylvania's Marcellus Shale Coalition.

The second piece of the report shows that Chesapeake Energy, the nation’s second largest producer of "natural" gas, was the biggest spender among industry advocates of fracking, disclosing a total of $1,090,051 spent lobbying in NY in 2010. "[By] contrast, the biggest spender amongthe groups that supported the moratorium, Citizens Campaign for the Environment, an entity which lobbies onnumerous environmental issues, not only natural gas exploitation, spent $159,232 lobbying in 2010."