Vitali: Natural gas industry spent $3.7M on lobbying Pa. legislature this year

HARRISBURG, Nov. 20 – An updated report posted today shows the natural gas industry has spent over $3.7 million lobbying the Pennsylvania legislature through the first three quarters of this year, said state Rep. Greg Vitali, D-Delaware/Montgomery.

According to Marcellus Money and the Pennsylvania Legislature, which was first released by Vitali in February, the industry has spent $65 million on lobbying activities in Pennsylvania since 2007.

The data also show that natural gas interests have given the Pennsylvania General Assembly over $7.7 million in campaign contributions since 2007. Senate President Joseph Scarnati, R-Jefferson, was the highest recipient collecting $483,500 over the past 10 years.

“In light of all of this money directed at the Pennsylvania legislature, it’s no surprise that that Pennsylvania is the only major gas-producing state without a severance tax,” Vitali said. “It’s also no surprise that current discussion regarding a severance tax includes provisions that would severely hamper the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s ability to regulate the gas drilling industry.” 

According to Vitali, these provisions include delegating the issuance of environmental permits to third parties, requiring permits be deemed approved after a certain number of days have passed – even if they have not met legal requirements – and, in effect, blocking part of the Wolf administration’s methane reduction strategy.  

A natural gas severance tax bill, H.B 1401, is on the House calendar this week. Vitali said that Senate leadership has made it clear that a severance tax bill would only pass their chamber if damaging DEP permitting provisions were included.

The latest version of Marcellus Money and the Pennsylvania Legislature can be found at www.PaHouse.com/Vitali.