Commonwealth Foundation Identifies Groups, People Who Fund Anti-Drilling Efforts in PA

Last week the Commonwealth Foundation released a policy briefing paper titled “The Great Frack Attack: The War On Natural Gas” (full copy of the paper embedded below). The policy paper names names and outlines the big money behind groups critical of drilling in the Marcellus Shale.

From the introduction:

The development and growth of the Marcellus Shale natural gas industry is a major boom for Pennsylvania’s economy. The industry has directly and indirectly created tens of thousands of new jobs, with tens of thousands more to come if natural gas is allowed to continue in a safe and responsible manner; paid out billions in royalty and lease payment to landowners; and contributed hundreds of millions of dollars to state and local government tax coffers. Yet the development of this economic opportunity has become extremely controversial, with many politicians and advocates calling for new taxes and fees on gas drillers and even an outright ban on all drilling in the commonwealth.

Much attention has been paid to the efforts of gas companies to influence the political debate through campaign contributions and lobbying efforts.  But anti-drilling activists—while claiming gas companies use their vast financial resources to weaken regulatory structures and silence poorly funded environmental groups—influence politicians through their own lobbying efforts and by spreading myths about drilling. Among the myths alleged about "Big Gas" is that drillers are flocking to Pennsylvania’s rich Marcellus Shale reserves, engaging in dangerous and highly polluting drilling activities, and shirking responsibility for damages while successfully avoiding paying taxes.

These intentional distortions of reality have both misinformed the public understanding in Pennsylvania and the policy debate in Harrisburg.  So who is behind the attack on natural gas?  Why are they doing it? And how much are they spending on their efforts to hinder or prevent the extraction of natural gas in Pennsylvania?

This policy brief identifies some of the top foes or obstructionists of an industry that has brought tens of thousands of jobs to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.*

*Commonwealth Foundation Website (Jul 27, 2011) – The Great Frack Attack: The War on Natural Gas

  • Anonymous

    I always check and enjoy this site every morning at work. Responsibility is mentioned over and over but some are still making decisions based on money, not responsibility. For instance, the MARC 1 pipeline going through a state forest (Endless Hills). The contractor publicized has never did a job that size, and their website is advertising nearly every position to be filled. Is that a project that you would want a virgin team attacking? Many of those positions don’t grow on trees. Is the public and workers safety plus the environmental responsibilities something that should be decided by the lowest bidder? Any poor/unprofessional judgment or conduct reflects on all of us involved in the industry as a whole.

  • Anonymous

    Following up on my previous comment, I would LOVE to read your thoughts on an article about responsible pipeline contractor selection. While many of the major players (Williams, Dominion, EQT, Shell, Anadarko, XTO, NFG, Superior) are using professional pipeline contractors with a proven track record and organised workforce, some are not, and with bad results and bad publicity. Last year Chesapeake got the bad press in West Virginia for it’s contractors bringing in all the immigrant labor. Consol Energy/CNX Gas recently ran off yet another questionable contractor making them a pretty humorous gossip subject at the bid meetings for the more reputable gas companies. The age old saying “you get what you pay for” still holds true today. My concern is when one of these inexperienced, under resourced, cheaper contractors has a catastrophe, how is it going to affect the whole Marcellus Shale play? 

  • Thanks for commenting. I’ll keep an eye out for more articles on pipelines. I expect it to become more of an issue as new areas (like New York) come online, and also as existing areas (like PA) continue to expand. I know that pipelines can be done right. Not too long ago the Millennium pipeline came through the area I live and local union workers were used and did a sterling job.

  • We all know that the Commonwealth Foundation, like the US Chamber, is a de facto right-wing lobbying group, which is why you’ll never find my business listed at the Greene County Chanber of Commerce. I’m choosy about who gets my money. So I’m a bit perturbed that I’m not on the anti-fracking list. Too picayune and poor, I guess, to attract any notice from on high.

  • Pierce Buncombe

    Seems a bit hypocritical for the Commonwealth Foundation to list those who fund anti-drilling efforts while at the same time refusing to disclose their own donors. Do any of the natural gas industry companies donate to the Commonwealth Foundation?

  • Don’t know, don’t care. The truth is the truth. And truth is, it is groups like the Park Foundation, William Penn Foundation and others that are engaged in coverups that are massive. They are truly opaque about their funding sources, and the groups they fund, to engage in overtly political activities. So what if the Commonwealth Foundation gets a few bucks from drillers? Is the information they’ve disclosed true? Does that even MATTER to you??