Natural gas interests have spent more than $747 million during a 10-year campaign – stunningly successful so far – to avoid government regulation of hydraulic “fracking,” a fast-growing and environmentally risky method of tapping underground gas reserves.
A faction of the natural gas industry has directed more than $20 million to the campaigns of current members of Congress and put $726 million into lobbying aimed at shielding itself from oversight, according to the report, the third in a series of “Deep Drilling, Deep Pockets” reports produced by the non-profit government watchdog group.
“Players in this industry have pumped cash into Congress in the same way they pump toxic chemicals into underground rock formations to free trapped gas,” said Common Cause President Bob Edgar. “And as fracking for gas releases toxic chemicals into groundwater and streams, the industry’s political fracking for support is toxic to efforts for a cleaner environment and relief from our dependence on fossil fuels.”
The report explains:
… The industry’s political giving also heavily favors lawmakers who voted in favor of the 2005 Energy Policy Act, which exempted fracking from regulation under the Safe Drinking Water Act. Current members who voted for the bill received an average of $73,433, while those who voted against the bill received an average of $10,894.
If you’re wondering, Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., led our state’s delegation with $144,603 in campaign donations from the industry. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., received $93,150. Both voted in favor of exempting fracking from the Safe Drinking Water Act, according to Common Cause. Rep. Nick J. Rahall, D-W.Va., received $56,850, but voted against the loophole. Sen. Manchin and Rep. McKinley were not in office at the time.