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Report Says Oil, Gas Industry Has Spent Heavily on Pennsylvania Politics Since 2007

Two state groups that have expressed strong opposition to the oil and gas industry have released a report that says the industry spent nearly $50 million on lobbying and campaign donations since 2007, the majority of which was sent to state Republicans.

The report, released by the watchdog group Common Cause Pennsylvania and the Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania, said chief among the industry's benefactors in the state is Republican Gov. Tom Corbett, who the report said has received more than $2 million to date. Corbett recently lost his reelection bid to Democratic Gov.-elect Tom Wolf, who pushed hard during the campaign for a popular 5% severance tax on natural gas production (see Shale DailyNov. 5).

For the most recent election cycle, Corbett, who formerly served as the state's Attorney General for two non-consecutive terms from 1995 to 1997 and then again from 2005 to 2011, received $697,284. Wolf also received $53,500 from the industry during his campaign for governor, according to the report.

The Corbett administration did not dispute those numbers, but noted the groups' history of opposition against oil and gas in the state and added that the industry's contributions were about 4% of what the governor raised in 2010 when he was elected and even less than that during his reelection campaign.

The report culled its findings from the Pennsylvania Department of State's campaign finance file system. The groups said all contributions under $100 were ignored, as well as duplicate entries, which it identified as a "contribution of the same amount, on the same day, by the same contributor."

Since 2007, the report said, the natural gas industry in the state has given $8 million in Pennsylvania campaign contributions. It said $4 million of that total has been donated by industry employees, while industry political action committees contributed the other half. The report also said $41 million has been spent on lobbying efforts in the state over the same time.

The Marcellus Shale Coalition, an industry trade group, has spent more than $11 million since 2007 and was identified as the state's leading political advocate for the industry in the capital, Harrisburg. PPL Corp., an electric utility with a sizeable footprint in the state, spent the second most on lobbying at more than $5 million during the same time period, while Range Resources Corp., one of the state's most active operators, was third, spending more than $4 million since 2007. 

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