These profit margins are among the largest of any major American industry, even if they have been inflated to lure investors. The firm is worth “more than $10 billion,” the executives said. Yet it is only one of the large gas companies that have come into the state, where, as of January 12, the Department of Environmental Protection has issued 5,751 permits and 2,891 wells have been drilled.
Pennsylvania’s Republican leaders did not need to be pushed to comprehensively rewrite its oil and gas laws in nearly 30 years. Working with the industry, they drafted a 174-page bill they touted as moving Pennsylvania toward energy independence while protecting the environment. Their legislation was presented to legislators in January, quickly passed largely on party lines, and was signed within weeks. The bill’s critics were ignored. Democrats said they could not muster the votes to stop it.
“This was all done in the backroom—and it was written by the oil and gas industry,” Shields said, pointing to fine print such as the confidentiality strictures for doctors who treat any patient that might be exposed to drilling fluids. “Where the hell does physician confidentiality come from? There isn’t a legislator up there that would ever have thought of that. But a good corporate lawyer will figure that out because they don’t want that to affect them in lawsuits. They know we will be coming because they know we will have spills and accidents and people are going to get hurt. They don’t want to give them a leg up.”