Pennsylvania's revolving door isn't just making me dizzy, it's making me sick. Is there anyone -- anyone -- out there willing to serve the people of the commonwealth for four or even eight years with nothing in their hearts and their minds but love for Pennsylvania's natural beauty and a burning desite to keep citizens' tap water from, um, burning? Who doesn't show up in Harrisburg with dollar signs spinning in his eyes like a slot machine, thinking of all the chips that he or she will cash in on the very day they leave what we like to jokingly call around these parts "public service"?
Ed Rendell, our former Democratic governor, is a tool of the fracking industry. He wrote an op-ed in that other Daily News, the New York one, today, telling New Yorkers that they should allow fracking in their state so the industry can do all the wonderful things they've done here in Pennsylvania. His article covered a lot of ground but somehow it failed to mention this:
Reached Wednesday, Rendell told ProPublica that he should have disclosed to the Daily News his work at the private equity firm, Element Partners, and that the newspaper “should have included it.”
Rendell said the Pennsylvania-based firm pays him about $30,000 per year. Still, he insisted he is not conflicted on the issue of fracking, in which water and chemicals are injected deep into the ground to extract previously unreachable natural gas from rock. He said he does not own equity in Element Partners or any fracking companies.
"The only conflict would be if I had a pecuniary interest in the natural gas industry doing well, and I certainly don’t," he said.
Element Partners’ website lists several investments by the firm in natural gas companies, including a company called 212 Resources that specializes in “fluid management systems” for fracking. Rendell is also a senior adviser at the investment bank Greenhill, which has worked on several large transactions involving natural gas companies.
Then Rendell proceeded to tell ProPublica's Justin Elliott that "I have no brief for the fracking industry" yet it sounds like he has a briefcase full of methane-dipped cash. Rendell's ties to the gas industry may run even deeper -- I was surprised Elliott also didn't bring up this recent disclosure:
Former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell says gas driller Range Resources never authorized him to speak on their behalf to the EPA about a Texas contamination case. On Tuesday, EnergyWire published a piece quoting email exchanges between EPA officials that would suggest Rendell went to bat for Range over a high-profile methane migration case in Parker County, Texas.
Rendell tells StateImpact that he did speak to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson about the case, but downplayed his role.
Rendell continues to influence the American electorate as a frequent, paid contributor to MSNBC -- both he and the network should disclose his myriad conflicts of interests, especially if the conversation comes within 10 feet of energy policy. As for Pennsylvania...we're fracked. Greed is the only thing here that knows no partisan divide. It's been less than a week since the state's top environmental "regulator" Michael Krancer left to make a gazillion dollars (probably) as a pro-fracking attorney, and we have Rendell's GOP successor Tom Corbett (former Waste Management honcho) slowly working his way toward Rendellian status by taking gifts from firms with close ties to oil-and-gas interests.
The polls suggest Corbett may find himself able to cash in his chips as early as January 2015. If you want to get rich, Governor, watch and learn from The Master.
P.S. Have a Good Friday and a great weekend. See you Sunday.