The Marcellus Money project tracks the natural gas (or “fracking”) industry’s campaign contributions and lobbying expenditures in Pennsylvania since 2007, when the Marcellus Shale natural gas boom was moving into high gear.
Eleven years since the fracking boom began, the industry maintains an outsized presence in Harrisburg and undue influence over Pennsylvania’s elected officials. Marcellus Money continues to find massive amounts of money contributed to Pennsylvania candidates and spent on lobbying against regulations and revenue measures that would help protect the people of the Commonwealth from this growing industry. Since gas lobbying began in earnest, state funding for the Department of Environmental Protection has been cut nearly in half. And despite massive popular support and consistent calls from Governor Wolf and legislators of both parties, Speaker of the House Mike Turzai continues to refuse to let the House of Representatives vote to implement a severance tax on the industry.
The updated Marcellus Money report reveals that since 2007, members of the Marcellus Shale Coalition and other companies that profit from fracking have spent $69.6 million since 2007 to lobby Pennsylvania’s state government. Lobbyists, PACs and executives from these companies donated $11.2 million to campaign committees registered with the state.
The totals by year donated to candidates and elected officials in Pennsylvania are listed below. 2017 was the highest “off year” on record since 2009.
Between 2007 and 2018, candidates for the state House received $3 million, while state Senate candidates received about $2.4 million from fracking interests. Candidates for statewide office received $3 million. The remaining donations went to party committees, other PACs and local offices.
From 2017 through the middle of September 2018, fracking interests have donated more than $1.3 million to candidates for state office in Pennsylvania.
Top Recipients: 2017 - September 2018
|TURZAI, MICHAEL C||$128,000||State House|
|WOLF, THOMAS W||$78,500||Governor|
|SCARNATI, JOSEPH B. III||$44,500||State Senate|
|WAGNER, SCOTT R||$30,650||Governor|
|Rich Fitzgerald||$26,500||Allegheny County Executive|
|COSTA, JAY JR.||$22,700||State Senate|
|CORMAN, JACOB D III||$20,500||State Senate|
|BROWNE, PATRICK M||$20,400||State Senate|
|O'NEAL, TIMOTHY JON||$19,750||State House|
|BARTOLOTTA, CAMERA C||$16,250||State Senate|
|SAYLOR, STANLEY E||$14,500||State House|
|REED, DAVID L||$13,400||State House|
|AUMENT, RYAN PATRICK||$13,000||State Senate|
|BENNINGHOFF, KERRY ALBERT||$11,750||State House|
|OBERLANDER, DONNA R||$11,500||State House|
|MCGARRIGLE, THOMAS J SR||$11,000||State Senate|
|WOODRUFF, DWAYNE D||$10,500||Justice of the Supreme Court|
|TOMLINSON, ROBERT M||$10,500||State Senate|
|CALTAGIRONE, THOMAS R||$10,000||State House|
The top recipient of fracking cash in that time frame is House Speaker Mike Turzai, who received $128,000 in his campaign account and leadership fund from corporations including Consol Energy ($27,500), Range Resources ($31,000) and EQT Corp. ($15,000).
Turzai’s counterpart in the legislature’s upper chamber — Senate President Pro Tem Joe Scarnati — has received $44,500 since 2017.
Fracking donors contributed at least $78,000 to Governor Tom Wolf, $52,500 of which came from the CEO of Peoples Natural Gas, Morgan O’Brien.
In his 2014 election against Tom Wolf, the gas industry gave Republican Governor Tom Corbett $2.1 million in more than 500 individual donations. This cycle, they made 16 contributions totaling $30,650 to Wolf’s opponent, Senator Scott Wagner.
Many donations to lawmakers have coincided with legislation in Harrisburg that specifically benefited the fracking industry. In November 2017 — when the House narrowly passed two pro-fracking amendments to House Bill 1401, which was supposed to establish a severance tax — the industry donated $99,000 to state political committees, including a $10,000 check from Chevron’s PAC to Turzai, and another $10,000 from EQT’s PAC to the State Republican Committee. Turzai never brought the severance tax bill to a vote for final passage.
This year, Gov. Wolf proposed a severance tax on natural gas production in his February budget address. In May, right before the budget was finalized, fracking interests donated $89,000 to Pennsylvania campaign committees, including $10,000 from EQT to Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman, while Cabot Oil & Gas gave $5,000 each to Turzai and Scarnati. No severance tax was included in the budget the legislature sent back to Gov. Wolf.
Top Fracking Donors (2007-2018)
|Chief Oil & Gas||$424,784|
Companies that profit from fracking have spent $69.6 million since 2007 to lobby the legislature and executive branch.
The Marcellus Shale Coalition — a business group that represents the fracking industry’s interests in Pennsylvania — has spent $19.5 million on lobbying alone since 2010.
Coalition members such as Range Resources, Chesapeake Energy and Shell have also individually spent millions of dollars on lobbying.
Fracking companies that have spent the most on lobbying since 2007
|Marcellus Shale Coalition||$19,509,144|
|UGI Energy Services, Inc.||$1,161,874|
|PA Independent Oil & Gas Association||$1,096,730|
|Cabot Oil & Gas||$1,096,455|