StateImpact reports some astonishing news:
Governor Corbett is calling for an investigation into allegations of fraud against Pennsylvania’s biggest natural gas driller– Chesapeake Energy.
Corbett sent a letter to Chesapeake’s CEO Doug Lawler, saying he has reached out to state Attorney General Kathleen Kane to investigate allegations the company is shortchanging landowners on natural gas royalty payments.
State law requires companies pay a minimum 12.5 percent royalty to landowners who lease their property for drilling. The royalty deductions– known as gathering fees, or post-production costs– are legal in many cases. Companies can charge landowners the costs of processing and transporting natural gas.
Why astonishing? Well, remember this:
In 2004, a flamboyant Oklahoma City multimillionaire took out his hefty checkbook for what you could call the political equivalent of a wildcat well – and he struck a gusher, right here in Pennsylvania.
The $450,000 in campaign checks that energy mogul Aubrey McClendon wrote that fall helped elect a man he said he’d never even met – a relatively obscure GOP candidate for Pennsylvania attorney general, Tom Corbett.
hat investment arguably changed not just the history but also the political direction of the state. The influx of cash helped Corbett narrowly win the closest attorney general’s race in Pennsylvania history and propelled him toward the governor’s mansion, where he has now pledged to turn the Keystone State into “the Texas of the natural-gas boom.”
Meanwhile, the hard-charging company run by McClendon, Chesapeake Energy, is the largest and most active driller for natural gas both in Pennsylvania and across the United States.
Chesapeake officals were among the biggest givers, but the whole industry got on board. From 2010:
The front-running candidate for governor, Tom Corbett, a leading opponent of taxes on Pennsylvania’s emerging shale-gas industry, has accepted more than $700,000 in campaign donations from that industry, more than all other Pennsylvania candidates combined.
Is this Corbett being honest and tough? We’d hate to think it’s an election year ploy to make Pennsylvania voters forget his previous “let them drill, and don’t tax ’em” record with regards to gas producers. That’s too cynical, right?