PA Official Resigns Over Spying on Enviros

Pennsylvania’s oil and gas industry is notoriously reckless on safety, ranking 6th worst in the  U.S. according to a recent National Wildlife Federation report, but somehow it was environmental advocates who were targeted by state level homeland security officials. The state’s governor was livid when the scandal broke that dirty fuels protesters were being monitored. Ultimately the state’s homeland security chief resigned.  Now the focus turns to oil and gas malfeasance in the state.

National Wildlife Federation ranked Pennsylvania 6th in the nation for most spills, leaks, explosions and other safety incidents in it’s recent report, Assault on America. According to federal records, the state had 114 safety incidents in the last decade resulting in ten fatalities and 33 injuries.  A decade of serious oil spills, fires, leaks and loss of life underscore petroleum company malfeasance.

A deadly 2007 Enbridge pipeline explosion

“An enormous threat to people’s health and safety exists in Pennsylvania and it’s not coming from environmental groups.  Polluters consistently have put profits over safety in this state and it has cost us in lives and dollars,” said Pennsylvania native and National Wildlife Federation President and CEO Larry Schweiger.

According to the report, from 2000 to 2010, the oil and gas industry accounted for hundreds of deaths, explosions, fires, seeps, and spills as well as habitat and wildlife destruction in the United States.  The report says the record shows these are not merely accidents, but rather a pattern of reckless behavior that result in an incident occurring once every 34 hours in the U.S. on average.

According to the report, the industry spent nearly $14 million on lobbying Congress in the first half of 2010 alone. NWF affiliate Penn Future has been following the money trail, along with Marcellus has tracked more than $3 million that the natural gas industry has spent on campaign contributions and $5 million spent on lobbying efforts in the Pennsylvania.

“Oil and gas companies have bought and paid for a regulatory system that fails to hold them accountable while letting them skimp on safety,” said Schweiger. “It’s a scandal that tax dollars are spent spying on citizens when they should be used to prevent reckless industry activities that pose a very real threat to our lives and safety.”