Flooding the Zone: Gas Industry Pours Millions into Lobbying PA

Sep 8, 2014

The Pennsylvania Capitol building.
Credit Wally Gobetz / via Flickr Creative Commons

Barry Kauffman sees similarities between the oil and gas business and the business of ‘government relations’--lobbying.

In fracking, gas companies inject water, sand and chemicals underground to extract gas. In politics, Kaufmann says, you use campaign contributions and lobbying money, “inject it under high pressure under the legislature, to extract public policy, from which you profit. The two processes are actually very much parallel,” says Kauffman, executive director of Common Cause Pennsylvania, a non-partisan, non-profit government watchdog group.

This is what Kauffman thinks happened in the last few years. Common Cause is a left-leaning group, but it has no position on gas drilling.  Kauffman says the industry’s campaign spending and lobbying have helped the industry score key victories in Pennsylvania.

“Number one, we all know—it got them no severance tax,” says Kauffman. “So Pennsylvania is the only major drilling state in the nation that doesn’t have a severance tax.”

Read more of this special report at the website of our partner The Allegheny Front. This is the first in a four-part series examining the influence of industry money on Pennsylvania's oversight of the natural gas boom.