Gas industry spent $1.4M lobbying Pa. legislature in first quarter of 2017

HAVERTOWN, June 2 – The natural gas industry spent $1.4 million lobbying the Pennsylvania General Assembly during the first quarter this year, state Rep. Greg Vitali, D-Delaware/Montgomery, announced today.

Chesapeake Energy led in lobbying expenditures with $211,602. The latest figures, based on quarterly lobbying reports from 43 gas companies in Pennsylvania, bring the total in natural-gas lobbying spent since 2007 to more than $64 million.

“Regrettably the citizens of Pennsylvania pay the price for the undue influence of the gas industry on the legislature,” Vitali said.

Pennsylvania is the only major gas producing state in the country without a severance tax. According to the state Department of Revenue, Pennsylvania will lose $153.4 million in fiscal year 2016-17 by not having a severance tax.

Additionally, Vitali said, commonsense conventional drilling regulations that protect public health and the environment have been derailed due to natural-gas industry influence.

“Conventional drilling regulations have been blocked by the legislature for years despite overwhelming public support and a finding by the Independent Regulatory Review Commission that these rules are ‘in the public interest,’” Vitali said.

“The Wolf administration’s methane-reduction strategy also continues to be delayed in the face of industry pressure. This important step in reducing greenhouse gas is particularly important in light of President Trump’s announcement to withdraw from the Paris Climate Accords.

“The way we regulate lobbyists needs to change. There should be a total gift ban, and lobbying reports must disclose at a minimum which lobbyists are giving what gifts to what legislator and for what legislation.”

Pennsylvania is only one of 10 states that does not limit gifts from lobbyists.

Vitali has been examining the money spent by gas companies on the Pennsylvania legislature. His report, Marcellus Money and the Pennsylvania Legislature is available at www.PaHouse.com/Vitali.