Thursday, June 24, 2010

Give It Back: Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania Calls on Tom Corbett to Return Donation from One of the Companies Responsible for the Gulf Oil Spill

The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is expected to cost tens of billions of dollars in damage, destroy thousands of jobs and cause incalculable damage to the environment. BP, which owns 65% of the well, set aside $20 billion in escrow to help compensate the victims of the spill and will spend billions more for the cleanup. Anadarko Petroleum, which owns 25% of the well, has thus far refused to contribute to the costs of the cleanup. It has, however, contributed to gubernatorial campaign of Attorney General Tom Corbett.

On May 13, 2010, three weeks after the oil spill began, Corbett accepted a $3,000 contribution from the Texas based Anadarko Petroleum PAC. Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania calls on Mr. Corbett to return those funds and to refuse any further contribution from Anadarko until that company has fulfilled its responsibility to those affected by the tragedy in the Gulf.

“You don’t get to light your neighbor’s house on fire and then use the hose to water your rose bushes,” Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania Executive Director Josh McNeil said. “Mr. Corbett has a responsibility to rebuke this company for its failures and to help ensure that every dollar at Anadarko’s disposal is spent to help the victims of the Gulf spill.”

Anadarko Petroleum PAC has contributed more than $279,000 to federal candidates in the 2010 election cycle, including donations to the National Republican Senatorial Committee and to the Friends of Arlen Specter. Anadarko’s contribution to the Corbett campaign was its first contribution to a state-level candidate in Pennsylvania in 2010 and was reported by the Corbett campaign on June 17, 2010.

Despite the spill in the Gulf and disasters such as the explosion of a natural gas well in Clearfield County last month, Corbett continues to advocate for a rapid increase in gas drilling in Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale. Though Pennsylvania is one of few states that lets companies take its natural resources for free, he opposes the creation of a severance tax on natural gas drillers. In most severance tax proposals, a portion of the revenue would be used to ensure better regulation of drill sites and to create a clean-up fund for future disasters. Drilling companies oppose such a tax for obvious reasons and political contributions to Pennsylvania candidates from individuals and PACs related to the drilling industry have significantly increased in the last few election cycles.

“Mr. Corbett’s energy plan calls for the ‘responsible development of Marcellus Shale’ but doesn’t give us many specifics as to what that means,” McNeil said. “What he does with this contribution will give us a hint about Tom Corbett’s real commitment to responsible drilling.”

Built on the model of the national League of Conservation Voters, Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania is a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to protecting the health and safety of Pennsylvanians and their environment by holding politicians accountable for their actions. For more information, visit