Do you have any doubt that Pennsylvania's Republican-controlled legislature is far too cozy with the fracking industry?
Read the following story by Marie Cusick in StateImpact:
For the third time in as many years, $150,000 has been slipped into the state budget for “independent research” on Marcellus Shale issues. It’s intended for an industry-backed nonprofit called the Shale Alliance for Energy Research (SAFER PA).
As StateImpact Pennsylvania previously reported, SAFER PA received a $150,000 earmark two years ago to do Marcellus research for the state Department of Environmental Protection. This time the money is being funneled through the Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED).
In each instance, the sum was buried in the fiscal code, a companion piece of legislation to the budget. The Commonwealth Foundation, a conservative think-tank, recently flagged it as part of long list of earmarks.
“The fiscal code contains millions in earmarks described in language vague enough to stump any detective,” says James Paul, a senior policy analyst at the foundation. “When it comes to the use of public dollars, Pennsylvanians deserve more than a big question mark.”
SAFER PA is based in Pittsburgh. Its board has three representatives from Pennsylvania universities and five members from the oil and gas industry. Its president, Patrick Findle, also heads the Pittsburgh office of the Gas Technology Institute, a nonprofit that does research for gas companies. He was previously the research committee vice chair of the industry group, the Marcellus Shale Coalition. Another SAFER PA board member, Gary Slagel, chairs the Pennsylvania Independent Oil and Gas Association. Both trade groups have fought the state’s efforts to strengthen drilling regulations.
Neither Findle nor Slagel responded to requests to comment for this story.