For Whom, Exactly, Does the Pa Legislature Work? (Hint: Think Deep Pockets)

Posted by By at 24 July, at 08 : 48 AM Print

According to a release last week by, the Marcellus Shale natural gas industry has spent $23 million in direct contributions to favored legislator campaigns and lobbying efforts since 2000.

The big winners in the Cash for Legislation sweepstakes between 2000 and April 2012 were:

  • Republican Governor Tom Corbett, $1,813,205.59;
  • Senate President Joseph Scarnati, R-25, $359,145.72;
  • Rep. Dave Reed, R-62, $137,532.33;
  • House Majority Leader Rep. Mike Turzai, R-28, $98,600; and
  • Sen. Don White, R-41, $94,150.

Although fracking did not gain widespread public awareness until  about 2010, the gas industry had, in fact, been laying groundwork longer than that. I talked to a woman who moved to Lycoming County “eight years ago,” and found convoys of trucks passing her house, using seismic devices to detect likely gas holding areas.

According to the Marcellus Money report, the natural gas industry invested $8 million since 2000, helping elect legislators favorable to the industry.

In 2006, the industry convinced the General Assembly to declare natural gas an “alternative fuel,” making it eligible for, among other things, federal subsidies.

Beginning in 2007, when development work began in earnest, the industry has spent nearly $16 million lobbying the lawmakers.

It’s been a worthwhile investment. So far, about $1 trillion in profits has been sucked out of the Commonwealth’s supporting strata.

“For their (nearly $24 million) political investment,” said Josh McNeil, Executive Director of Conservation Voters of PA. “gas companies avoided hundreds of millions in taxes that could have paid for thousands of teachers, roads and desperately needed environmental protections.”

(To see how much individual legislators have received from the natural gas industry, visit Marcellus Money.)

Photo by Marcellus Protest
This post was written by:
- who has written 169 posts for Rock The Capital
John Messeder is an award winning journalist with more than 35 years experience writing about education, environment and local government issues. He has lived in Maine, Florida, California and Alaska, and, by temporary turns, numerous places in between. John also is an accomplished photographer, and avid hiker, conservationist, oral history buff, and author of several books he has not yet got 'round to writing. He lives in Adams County, Pa., just over a hill from Gettysburg, with his wife and Golden Retriever. He may be contacted at - Email jmesseder

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