For Immediate Release:
Contact: Susan Lerner
January 10, 2012
Common Cause Releases Groundbreaking Report on Hydrofracking Money in New York State Politics
Natural Gas industry contributed $1.34 million to NY state and local politicians and parties over past four years: www.commoncause.org/ny/deepdrillingdeeppockets. Report includes Top 12 and Top 10 lists of companies and lawmakers
Today Common Cause NY released the latest in a series of reports on the financial relationship between the gas industry and hydraulic fracturing policy in New York State. The report, Deep Drilling Deep Pockets Part 3, reveals that from January 2007 to October 2011, the Natural Gas industry made 2,349 campaign contributions to state and local politicians and parties. These contributions represent over $1.34 million in natural gas industry campaign contributions. The Department of Environmental Conservation's public comment period on hydro-fracking is due to end this week on January 11th.
"Hydraulic fracturing has raised environmental questions and now financial ones about the influence of the natural gas industry over state lawmakers and public policy. New Yorkers need to be assured that such a controversial issue will be decided based on merit not money. The public should not have to rely primarily on analyses of political spending by advocacy groups and the press to be able to hold their elected officials accountable. We need stricter disclosure requirements, contribution limits, and public financing of elections to curtail the disproportionate influence of special interests," said Susan Lerner, the Executive Director of Common Cause NY.
Common Cause identified the top twelve companies and gas associations which contributed over 90% of the total amount of campaign contributions across the natural gas industry, totaling $1,215,257. This high level of special interest spending is all too typical in New York where only 7% of campaign contributions come from small donors contributing $250 or less.
A detailed breakdown of the $1.34 million in natural gas industry campaign contributions shows that almost 75% of the money went to the State Legislature (State Senate candidates, state party soft money, and State Assembly candidates). While candidates for the State Senate received the largest share, over $300,000 went to the Senate and Assembly "soft money" accounts which can accept unlimited contributions.
Looking at individual candidates, the Top 10 State Legislative recipients of natural gas industry contributions collected $231,557.00 from January 2007 to October 2011:
On the executive side, the Cuomo-Duffy 2010 campaign was by far the largest gubernatorial recipient of natural gas industry money, receiving a total of $153,816.06 from January 2007 to October 2011.
Over the past year, Common Cause NY has called on Governor Cuomo and the Department of Environmental Conservation to extend the public comment period beyond the modestly extended deadline of January 11th. New Yorkers need an adequate amount of time to address doubts about the ability of the DEC to properly regulate the natural gas industry given budget constraints, environmental concerns, as well as the natural gas industry's alarming degree of financial influence on state lawmakers. Common Cause NY believes a longer extension would help to ensure that the process by which regulatory oversight will be conducted is properly vetted and that the process includes adequate opportunities for public participation.
Companies are defined as natural gas interests if they have a significant financial interest in the expansion of hydraulic fracturing in the Marcellus Shale. This definition includes corporations directly involved in the drilling as well as those with a stake in the distribution and transmission of Marcellus gas and the energy it will produce. Common Cause started by identifying companies who were named in news reports as investing in natural gas drilling, distribution and transmission in the Marcellus Shale as well as companies listed as campaign contributors in the Board of Elections disclosures with gas or natural gas in their name.
Natural gas entities were also identified by analyzing lobby records in a past report for groups having lobbied on two moratorium bills in the State Legislature in 2010. The analysis includes names of any company with pending leases before the Department of Environmental Conservation, as well as cross referenced names of companies with lists of company names provided by grassroots advocacy groups and environmental groups. Websites like wikimarcellus.com helped inform the list of natural gas entities. Finally, Common Cause crosschecked the companies through a campaign contribution database which Common Cause NY has built from information obtained from the state Board of Elections.
The list of natural gas entities identified in this report is admittedly incomplete. The identifying of natural gas entities is an on-going process. If there are companies or firms that are not listed in this report that should be included, Common Cause welcomes further input.
Link to Report:Expenditures of the Natural Gas Industry in New York - Part 3: Campaign Contributions
Office: Common Cause New York
Common Cause is a nonpartisan grassroots organization dedicated to upholding the core values of American democracy. We work to create open, honest, and accountable government that serves the public interest; promote equal rights, opportunity, and representation for all; and empower all people to make their voices heard in the political process.