The New York State legislature is debating whether to allow hydrofracking in the state. The natural gas industry is hoping to have its say, contributing $1.34 million to state politicians and parties over the last four years, including Governor Andrew Cuomo.
The industry is pushing for the drilling process, also known as fracking, to take place not far from the Syracuse and New York City watersheds. This has caused some concern since fracking can harm the surrounding environment, poison nearby water sources, and even cause earthquakes. But the New York Daily News reports that drillers and utilities really want this to get started:
In pushing for state approval of hydrofracking, the natural gas industry has pumped $1.34 million into the coffers of New York politicians and their parties, a new study revealed. The donations were sprinkled around over the last four years as lawmakers and state officials debated whether to allow the controversial drilling process, formally known as hydraulic fracturing, in the gas-rich Marcellus Shale formation upstate, Common Cause New York said in its report.[…]
Common Cause’s study included not only gas drillers and producers, but some public utilities — including Con Edison and National Grid — that have stakes in gas distribution networks, Lerner said. The bulk of gas industry donations — some 75% — went to candidates for state legislature, including $448,359 given to Republican state Senate candidates and their campaign organizations. Another $217,901 was spent on Democratic candidates for state Senate and their campaign organizations. Gov. Cuomo’s campaign committee took in $153,816 from the gas industry, according to Common Cause.
The top ten recipients combined took in $231,557 in industry cash from January 2007 to October 2011, including $38,532 to the George Maziarz (R-Buffalo-Rochester), chair of the Senate’s Energy Committee, and $26,800 to Kevin Cahill (D-Ulster County), the chair of the Assembly’s Energy Committee.
The industry says it is only making these contributions to combat a well-funded effort on the other side. But as the donations show, they are also having to deal with a hesitant legislature which is discussing the extension of a fracking moratorium, not to mention some public pressure against the procedure.
The deadline for public comments on proposed fracking plans was Wednesday, January 11th. Environmental and pro-drilling groups submitted thousands of comments to the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation. A report is expected from the agency some time this year.
— Zachary Bernstein