The development and growth of the Marcellus Shale natural gas industry is a major boom for Pennsylvania’s economy. The industry has directly and indirectly created tens of thousands of new jobs, with tens of thousands more to come if natural gas is allowed to continue in a safe and responsible manner; paid out billions in royalty and lease payment to landowners; and contributed hundreds of millions of dollars to state and local government tax coffers. Yet the development of this economic opportunity has become extremely controversial, with many politicians and advocates calling for new taxes and fees on gas drillers and even an outright ban on all drilling in the commonwealth.
Much attention has been paid to the efforts of gas companies to influence the political debate through campaign contributions and lobbying efforts. But anti-drilling activists—while claiming gas companies use their vast financial resources to weaken regulatory structures and silence poorly funded environmental groups—influence politicians through their own lobbying efforts and by spreading myths about drilling. Among the myths alleged about “Big Gas” is that drillers are flocking to Pennsylvania’s rich Marcellus Shale reserves, engaging in dangerous and highly polluting drilling activities, and shirking responsibility for damages while successfully avoiding paying taxes.
These intentional distortions of reality have both misinformed the public understanding in Pennsylvania and the policy debate in Harrisburg. So who is behind the attack on natural gas? Why are they doing it? And how much are they spending on their efforts to hinder or prevent the extraction of natural gas in Pennsylvania?
This policy brief identifies some of the top foes or obstructionists of an industry that has brought tens of thousands of jobs to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.