Monday, February 14, 2011
Nice Work If You Can Get It
The state Senate president, a key player in the debate over natural-gas drilling in Pennsylvania, accepted a free trip from one of the state's largest energy companies to see the Pittsburgh Steelers play in the Super Bowl.
Senate President Pro Tem Joe Scarnati, R-Brockway, had his ticket, plane ride and hotel bill paid for by Consol Energy Inc., a major coal producer and one of the companies drilling for natural gas in the Marcellus Shale, according to Mr. Scarnati's top aide.
Bizarrely, this sort of corrupting behavior and influence is allowed by Pennsylvania's "ethics" rules.
"There's nothing illegal about it, but it does show the undue influence industry has over elected officials," said Jan Jarrett, president of Citizens for Pennsylvania's Future, an environmental advocacy organization that has pushed for taxes and tighter regulations on natural-gas drilling.
"It really creates an uneven playing field between those who've got the resources to buy that kind of influence and those who don't," she said.
I'll say! Gee, I wonder how any proposed restrictions and or taxes on Marcellus shale drilling and gas extraction are going to turn out?