Watchdog Group Cites Fracking and Pa.'s 'Revolving Door'
BUFFALO, N.Y. The oil and gas industry frequently argues that fracking means jobs. "This appears to be especially true for former regulators and other public officials in Pennsylvania," finds the Public Accountabiity Initiative, a watchdog group based here.
Numerous top government officers and environmental regulators in Pennsylvania have either left their public jobs for careers in the oil and gas industry or come to government from the industry, according to the report. "The revolving door trend in Pennsylvania raises questions about whether regulators are serving the public interest or private industry interests in their oversight of fracking," the group states in a summary of its findings. (Click here to read the full report as a pdf)
The following are major findings from the report:
While media outlets have written about some of these connections independently, such as Gov. Ridge’s Marcellus Shale Coalition lobbying, the Public Accountability Initiative says its report is the first extensive look at the revolving door between the gas industry and all of the Pennsylvania government entities responsible for its regulation. In preparing this report, the advocacy group says it found several striking revolving door connections that have previously gone unreported:
- Former Gov. Ed Rendell and his Environmental Protection Secretary Kathleen McGinty have a financial stake in companies servicing the fracking industry. Rendell and McGinty are operating partners in Element Partners, a private equity firm that invests in the energy sector. Several of the companies serve the natural gas industry, such as 212 Resources, Agility Fuel Systems, and Environmental Drilling Solutions.
- Secretary of Environmental Protection Michael Krancer’s Executive Deputy Secretary for programs is now a lobbyist for Shell. John T. Hines, the author of a 2011 leaked e-mail revealing a new DEP policy requiring Krancer’s approval of all notices of violation in the Marcellus Shale, is now a government relations advisor for Shell Oil Company.
- Husband and wife Eric and Sarah Battisti left the Rendell administration to lobby for the gas industry. While Sarah Battisti’s departure for BG Group was noted in the press, it was not reported that her husband, Eric Battisti, a senior deputy secretary to Rendell, left to work for Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney where he lobbies for EQT and Williams Companies.
- Several prominent law firms that are destinations for regulators and public officers after they leave government are members of the Marcellus Shale Coalition. Buchanan Ingersoll Rooney, K&L Gates, and Blank Rome are three of the most renowned law firms in Pennsylvania, and many regulators and public officers are hired after leaving government or come to government from one of the three firms. All three also lobby for companies engaged in fracking and are members of the gas industry advocacy group, the Marcellus Shale Coalition.
The Public Accountability Initiative describes itself as a "nonprofit, public interest research organization investigating power and corruption at the heights of business and government."
SOURCE: Public Accountability Initiative.
Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.
CLICK HERE to subscribe to our free daily email headlines and to our twice-monthly print edition.
Copyright 2013 Youngstown Publishing Co. DBA The Business Journal
Developed by Tyler Clark Consulting.