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Fracking: Gas industry pours $747 million into lobbying and Congress

roan wellpads.jpg
Colorado well pads.
As the oil and gas industry has turned increasingly to hydraulic fracturing to extract reserves, fears about groundwater contamination from the toxic chemicals used in "fracking" have intensified. And that's prompted a $747 million spending spree by major industry players in an effort to allay those fears and influence key energy committee members in Congress, according to a new report released by Common Cause.

The report, "Deep Drilling, Deep Pockets," suggests that the industry is pumping cash into the pockets of lawmakers in much the same way it pumps chemicals into tight shale formations to extract oil and gas. Only what it's extracting from Congress is loopholes in environmental controls, such as legislation in 2005 that exempted fracking from regulation under the Safe Drinking Water Act.

Common Cause calculates that gas industry leaders have spent $20 million on the campaigns of current members of Congress and another $726 million on lobbying efforts related to fracking over the past ten years. The campaign contributions have increased substantially in recent years, the report found.

Current members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee have been recipients of much of this largesse, with Representative Joe Barton of Texas, the former committee chairman, topping the list with $514,945 in contributions. Only three Colorado lawmakers show up in the top one hundred recipients -- Doug Lamborn clocks in at 63rd with a measly $96,600, followed by Michael Bennet (69th, $87,595) and Cory Gardner (79th, $77,500).

But with gas-friendly Governor John Hickenlooper insisting that contamination of groundwater from fracking is "almost inconceivable" and Colorado lagging behind other states in requiring disclosure of the chemicals used in fracking, look for more vigorous lobbying on the issue at a state level as the use of the controversial extraction method continues to expand.

The Common Cause report is only one volley in a counter-campaign by opponents. While the American Petroluem Institute has launched a new ad blitz suggesting that unfettered oil and gas exploration will generate a million new American jobs, the consumer advocacy organization Food & Water Watch is preparing to release a study next week that seeks to debunk those claims.

"Minor employment gains in the wake of shale gas development need to be weighed against the resulting costs to public health, public infrastructure and the environment," the group claims in a statement touting its study.

More weighing, less pumping? With the Environmental Protection Agency expected to release new findings about potential dangers from fracking next year, the debate is just going to get louder.

More from our Follow That Story archive: "Fracking primer: State seeks to address uproar over drilling process."


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19 comments
Industri port
Industri port

Fracking: Gas Industry Pours $747 Million Into Lobbying and Congress. By WebMaster | Published: November 12, 2011. Colorado well pads. As the oil and gas industry has turned increasingly to hydraulic fracturing to extract reserves, ...

Industriporte
Industriporte

We anticipate that we will have additional flexibility at La Porte in the near term.” LyondellBasell is one of the world's largest plastics, chemical and refining companies. The company manufactures products at 59 sites

guest
guest

I have worked in the oil fields on a drilling rig for 10 years in the late 70's into the 80's and there is nothing non toxic about any of it!   Does not matter how deep you go it all seeps into the surrounding areas.   This is all about the greed and $......   The earth give us all the power we need through motion and solar but the greedy ones are not finished poking our earth and its people where they should not be poked!!!!    As far as nuclear....   Well talk to Japan about that and all nuclear plants are on terrorist hit list!   We need to get rid of nukes asap!   If the Gas industry has an extra 747million dollars just to lobby than they are just showing how much more they want to gouge and steal from the earth and people.......

Allamony
Allamony

Well its just a matter of time before we start having Earthquakes. In Britain, and Oklahoma their Earthquakes have already been proven to be the cause of Fracking, no doubt about it. 

Fucked up. 

coloradojohn
coloradojohn

Money buys you a yes  on whatever you need and the politicians see a golden goose in this one.  If that shit they pump in the ground is so non toxic then why won't you tell us what's in it? Lying sacks of shit. We should nationalize the natural gas and the oil and make these bastards pay a fair market price and tell us all the truth. This total BS. 

debonair
debonair

Who lobbies for 99% of  the American people?

SperbyPinerJr
SperbyPinerJr

This is only one instance of money can buy you anything. It's just a matter of time before America destroys itself. We keep electing the same people to Washington and State governments, we keep getting the same results. 

Albert
Albert

So it's okay to tear up the land, contaminate the drinking water and who knows what else? And this $747 million worth of bribes?? Do we really need to tie the hands of lawmakers from taking  multi-million dollar payoffs from these companies? Lobbying is just another term for bribery, only they have to register with the government.  Hmm... what lobbying firm can I get to give me some money.... looking at the lobbying list. 

Eric
Eric

See Gasland.

Jjudge for yourself.

Lisa Bracken
Lisa Bracken

But, a big congrats to one of our former Govs on his new post at CSU's Center for the New Energy Economy and opportunity to jointly promote natural gas extraction in CO after instituting a slate of useless regulatory rules as Gov. Not.

Not a blind sheep
Not a blind sheep

So I guess you were GREEDY as well to work in the industry knowing what you "knew" (and openly espoused): "I have worked in the oil fields on a drilling rig for 10 years in the late 70's into the 80's and there is nothing non toxic about any of it!   Does not matter how deep you go it all seeps into the surrounding areas."  Of course I'm sure your departure from the industry had nothing to do with the coincidence that the industry crashed in 80's (which also crashed the economy in CO), rather you're 'moral compass' telling you to leave b/c of all the "toxic".

Let's also talk about 'Cement Casing' in the wells through the subsurface aquifers and to the point of frac... Oh, wait, that would entail ethical reporting.  

Do your research thoroughly and don't be a hypocrite before you ignorantly try to bring down an industry which heats your homes, fuels your vehicles, and keeps this state afloat to pay for your social programs.  Also, talk to the communities in which the industry operates in - talk to the local schools and collages, art programs, local response and ask them about the GREED within the industry.

One last thing.  Last I checked, fossil fuels (gas, coal & petroleum) is needed and used to power wind and solar. Oh, and  you may want to look at what petroleum is used for in everyday products (lotions, hair shampoo, tv's, solar panels, neoprene shirts/bottles, pharmaceuticals ...etc.). 

FracFacts
FracFacts

Watch FrackNation. Ths documentary was funded by kickstarter, not hollywood. It disproves everything in GasLand and brings to light the despicable journalism (if you can call it that, I call it straight up lies and scare tactics) used in GasLand. Judge for yourself... How about educate yourself!  Also if you buy into the flaming water clearly you have never looked up the difference between biogenic and thermogenic gas.  Or the fact that places have been able to light their water on fire decades before the first well was drilled in the US.  Why do you think there are so many towns called "burning springs"?

Guest
Guest

yes...everyone watch a shockumentary meant to spread fear and manipulated facts about an industry. If you want to get educated, you won't want a 2 hour movie that only presents one side of the story, an extremely slanted side at that.

If you want FACTS about fracking, this is the best place to start.http://fracfocus.org/

coloradojohn
coloradojohn

I went to the site you suggested. I am only a electrical engineer by trade, not a chemical engineer so I can only suggest that from the few chemicals that I do recognize most are toxic. This is not something that needs to be put in the ground as it now stands.

FracFacts
FracFacts

The chemicals in cabbage are carcinogenic in large quantities and sound scary too. do you eat vegetables? Then you have eaten carcinogens.  I am a chemical engineer by the way.  Here is an excellent talk by Dr. Bruce Ames, a microbiologist from the University of California, Berkeley. I would suggest you watch it. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3g1denSoAbc&noredirect=1

Asdf
Asdf

Yeah and all of that crap isn't good either. That's why all of this needs to be changed. If the  United States became the more environmentally friendly country that would say so much more about us than what we are represented by now.

FiniteElement
FiniteElement

They may be toxic, but they are a very small part of the mix ( way below 1%), and they are pumped thousands of feet ( > 7000 ) below the surface, and certainly below the water table. If you are going to be so finicky about toxicity, then I suggest you take a look at what your car does to the environment, the crap that's in your fast food and all the chemicals that you store in your house in the form of cleaning supplies.

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