Rendell is slick as oil - Shale Reporter : Tara Zrinski

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Rendell is slick as oil

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Posted: Monday, February 11, 2013 12:49 pm

Ft. Worth, Texas. 2010. The Environmental Protection Agency goes over the head of state regulators and agencies to issue an emergency order suspending the drilling operations of Range Resources based on reports that linked methane- and benzene-contaminated water directly to the industry giant. EPA administer Al Armendariz leads the charge.

Fast forward one year. The EPA rescinds the mandate and all litigation with no public explanation in March. Armendariz resigns in April.

Why?

Contrary to the common belief that the EPA did not have enough evidence, recent reports from The Associated Press show that the EPA had hard scientific evidence against Range but folded under the threat that Range would not cooperate with a national hydraulic fracturing study concerning methane migration.

A research geochemist with the Enhanced Oil Recovery Institute at the University of Wyoming at the time, Geoffrey Thyne, had directed an independent study analyzing 32 wells in Texas. Through isotopic analysis, Thyne claimed that methane migration could be traced back to the natural gas operations of Range Resource.

Thyne’s study was peer-reviewed by Robert Jackson, professor of Global Environmental Change at Duke University and coauthor of the “Duke Study.” Jackson confirmed that fracking operations by Range Resources were a “probable” source of methane migration.

The EPA ignored the study.

Reporting for Energy Wire, Mike Soraghan reported that more than 1,000 pages of emails in 2011 link the withdrawal of litigation against Range to former Gov. Ed Rendell’s actions on behalf of Range Resources. Acting as a liaison, Rendell “proposed certain terms” to then-EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson in March 2011, thereby precipitating the ever-increasing compliance of EPA officials to negotiate a settlement.

Rendell the Oil and Gas Lobbyist was not born in day, though.

During his 2006 gubernatorial campaign, he received $200,000 in campaign contributions from the oil and gas Industry, according to the National Institute of Money in State Politics.

It was not a big secret that Rendell was the “industry’s best ally,” but three of his former aides left while he was still governor to pursue careers as industry lobbyists.

Significant to how Rendell became a liaison to Range Resources was his former aide, Kenneth Scott Roy, who served as chief liaison between the governor’s office and the industry. Roy became the vice president of regulations and government Affairs for— you guessed it—Range Resources.

It wouldn’t be the first time that a former Pennsylvania governor found a cushy position in the oil and gas industry post-politics. Tom Ridge served as strategic adviser for the Marcellus Shale Coalition from 2010 to 2011, receiving $900,000 in compensation.

How much did Rendell get for intervening on behalf of Range?

So, did Roy solicit the political muscle of Rendell to mitigate potentially damaging litigation against Range Resources at the expense the residents of Ft. Worth? Or did Rendell convince the EPA that their case was soft and they should drop it so that Range would participate in the national methane study?

And why did Armendariz resign?

What do you say, Governor?

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Miranda C. Spencer, a researcher with the online news sites Environmental Health News and The Daily Climate, is a freelance journalist and media critic based in the New York metro area. Her writing over the past 25 years, including eight magazine cover stories, has appeared in The Daily Climate, Extra! ( the journal of FAIR), E magazine, American Forests, and many other publications. Miranda's investigative work has been honored by Project Censored. Her website is Red Panda Communications.

Suzie Gilbert is a writer, a state and federally licensed wild bird rehabilitator, and the founder of Flyaway, Inc., a non-profit organization dedicated to the rescue, rehabilitation and release of injured and orphaned wild birds. She has written an award-winning environmental column for Taconic News Media, and has published the children's book "Hawk Hill" (Chronicle Books, 1996), and her memoir "Flyaway" (Harpercollins, 2009.) Her articles and opinion pieces have appeared in various newspapers, including the Washington Post. She blogs for "The Crooked Wing" and "10,000 Birds" and has been profiled in both the New York Times and on Andrew C. Revkin's New York Times blog, Dot Earth.

Tara’s academic work and pursuits are focused on eco-feminism and ethics. Tara has been featured on AOL’s Patch.com as a weekly columnist, Moxie Momma, exploring social concerns and parenting strategies. Writing articles on lifestyle, entertainment and local travel, Tara has been a regular contributor to the Bethlehem, Hellertown and Upper Saucon Patch. As a research and investigative journalist, Tara’s work is regularly featured in the Elucidator Magazine. A specialist in the technical fields of psychology, philosophy and theology, Tara also teaches classes on Ethics and Moral Dilemmas, Death and Dying, World Religions, and Introduction to Philosophy.

Mike Butler serves as Executive Director of Consumer Energy Alliance (CEA) Mid-Atlantic, where he leads activities to educate and engage consumers of energy from every sector of the economy – large industrial natural gas users, small business, retail owners, hospitals, transportation, and local consumers. By focusing on the importance of responsibly accessing available natural resources and the need for stable energy prices for business, agriculture, manufacturing, and other energy consumers, CEA Mid-Atlantic aims to expand productive, sensible discussion on energy policy across the region. Prior to joining CEA Mid-Atlantic, Butler served as Finance Director for the re-election effort of U.S. Senator Bob Casey. After leading efforts to raise over $16 million for the Senator’s campaign, Mike’s was named to PoliticsPA’s “Top Operatives of 2012.” Additionally Mike served as District Director for Congressman Jason Altmire, Finance Director for Dan Onorato for Governor, and fundraiser for State Treasurer Rob McCord.