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Donations from the top environmental violators
On August 20, 2010, the Pennsylvania Land Trust Association released a report documenting the more than 1600 environmental violations committed by Marcellus Shale Drillers between January 1, 2010 and the release of the report. Violations range from illegal discharge of industrial waste into streams and rivers to failure to install an adequate blowout preventer, the safety device that failed on the Deepwater Horizon rig in the Gulf of Mexico.
PLTA identified 1056 of those violations most likely to harm the environment and listed the companies that perpetrated the greatest number of violations. Below are four companies that appeared near the top of both the PLTA list and the MarcellusMoney.org list of top political contributors.
Chesapeake Appalaichia LLC
Oklahoma based Chesapeake Appalaichia LLC, self-described as “America’s Champion of Natural Gas,” committed 149 environmental violations during the period described. Chesapeake holds leases on 1.55 million acres of the Marcellus Shale and estimates that it will extract 460 billion cubic feet of natural gas, with a value of more than $4 billion.
Chesapeake has contributed $58,000 to Pennsylvania political candidates. Dan Onorato has received a total of $7,000 while his opponent, Tom Corbett, received $5000. Lieutenant Governor Joe Scarnati received $5,000. State Senator Lloyd Smucker received $3,500.
Chief Oil and Gas LLC
At its 63 Pennsylvania wells, Texas based Chief Oil and Gas LLC committed 110 violations in the period studied. Chief was also the company in charge of the West Virginia gas well that exploded in June 2010, injuring seven workers. Chief has donated $10,800 to Pennsylvania candidates, including $1000 to Tom Corbett and $1000 to Joe Scarnati.
East Resources MGT LLC
With 106 violations and more than $425,000 in political donations in Pennsylvania, East Resources tops the lists of both violators and contributors. The fact that East Resources only owns 26 wells in Pennsylvania means that the company averages more than 4 violations per well. East Resources also owns the well in Tioga County that leaked fracking fluid onto a nearby farm, causing the Department of Agriculture to quarantine a herd of cattle that may have drunk the poisoned water.
East Resources executives have contributed $225,000 to Tom Corbett, including the single largest oil and gas donation on record: a $150,000 contribution made in November 2009. In 2005 and 2006, East executives contributed more than $200,000 to Lynn Swann’s gubernatorial run. Joe Scarnati received $8000 between 2002 and 2009.
With 32 violations on 240 wells, Range has a better record, per well, than many of its competitors. It’s recent decision to voluntarily disclose the contents of its hydraulic fracturing fluid was hailed by the Department of Environmental Protection. Range contributed $49,266 to Pennsylvania candidates between 2008 and 2010. Tom Corbett received $17,916. Dan Onorato received $5,000. Jack Wagner received $4,000. State Representative Jesse White received $4,000.