Fracking Lobby Outspends Environmental Groups 4 to 1

Pro industry lobby groups are outspending those who oppose the use of hydraulic fracturing for natural gas in New York State by 4 to 1, according to non-profit group Common Cause/NY.

The use of hydraulic fracturing technology, also called hydro-fracturing or, more commonly, hydrofracking, to drill for natural gas in New York State remains highly controversial. Industry and some upstate landowners continue to press for permitting to use hydrofracking, particularly to unlock the natural gas found in the Marcellus Shale, citing job creation and the need for new energy sources, while environmental groups and others urge caution, pointing to potential risks to New York’s water, air and natural resources.

To assist the public in monitoring this difficult decision and how it is made, Common Cause/New York expanded its analysis of lobbying expenditures by those who seek to influence these critical decisions.

Common Cause/NY released the results of that analysis in their report, Deep Drilling, Deep Pockets, Lobbying Expenditures of the Natural Gas Industry to Influence Public Policy, Part II, which provides a detailed analysis of the presence of a large money push to influence New York State’s public policy decision-making process in regards to natural gas extraction policies.

The report’s analysis of lobbying disclosures shows that it is not only the natural gas industry that is seeking to influence the state’s policies regarding natural gas exploration. A powerful consortium of business groups has allied itself with the natural gas industry to oppose the moratorium on hydrofracking. That consortium, made up of energy companies, business and professional associations in addition to natural gas companies, spent a total of $2,869,907 lobbying last year, grossly outspending those that lobbied in support of the bills by $2,143,525 or four to one.

Much of this was due to substantial amounts spent for advertising by Chesapeake Appalachia, the nation’s second largest producer of natural gas and the biggest spender among industry advocates of hydrofracking. In the first half of 2010, Chesapeake spent an astounding $836,386 on advertising to the public via billboard signage, television advertisements focused on the benefits of natural gas, and even a short film production.

"New York State’s policies on hydrofracking will have a profound impact on the future of our state. It is imperative that those policies are not unduly influenced by large infusions of natural gas industry dollars. The uneven balance in spending on lobbying and advertising by pro- and anti-moratorium groups reflects the massive resources at the disposal of natural gas interests and is indicative of the growing need for special interest money to be countered by the grassroots involvement of an informed public," said Susan Lerner, executive director of Common Cause/NY.

In Related News: Under a new Republican governor, Pennsylvania is limiting the authority of oil and gas inspectors charged with monitoring drilling activities in the Marcellus Shale formation.

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