Journalism in the Public Interest

More Than a Matter of Opinion: Ed Rendell’s Plea for Fracking Fails to Disclose Industry Ties

Rendell, who supported fracking when he was governor of Pennsylvania, urged Andrew Cuomo of New York to get behind the industry in a strongly worded newspaper piece. He left a few details out.

Former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell (Chris Kleponis/Getty Images)

Former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell took to the New York Daily News op-ed page Wednesday with a message to local officials: stop worrying and learn to love fracking.

As New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo agonizes over whether to allow the controversial natural gas drilling technique, Rendell invoked his own experience as a Democratic governor who presided over a fracking boom. New York state, Rendell argued, has a major part to play in the nation’s fracking “revolution” — and it can do so safely. He rejected what he called the “false choice” of “natural gas versus the environment.”

What Rendell’s passionate plea failed to note was this: since stepping down as governor in 2011, he has worked as a paid consultant to a private equity firm with investments in the natural gas industry.

The op-ed piece was widely noted in other media outlets, and Cuomo wound up being asked about it during a radio appearance on Wednesday. The New York State Petroleum Council promptly issued a press release hailing Rendell’s “strong and confident argument.”

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. A Greenhill spokesman said Rendell has not been involved in the firm’s work in the energy sector.

"I have no brief for industry," Rendell told ProPublica. He said he supports fracking because of the potential for American energy independence and jobs.

“If we choose to embrace natural gas, it will help us get past a number of significant economic and environmental challenges,” Rendell argued in the Daily News op-ed. “On the other hand, if we let fear carry the day, we will squander another key moment to move forward together.”

Daily News opinion editor Josh Greenman said in an email to ProPublica that he was unaware of Rendell’s relationship with Element, and indeed had been assured by Rendell’s representative that there was no conflict.

“Had I known, I certainly would have disclosed that and conceivably would have made a different judgment on the piece," Greenman said.

The Daily News has now added a disclosure line to the online version of the op-ed.

This isn’t the first time Rendell has popped up in New York advocating for fracking. The New York Post ran an interview with Rendell in November in which he said Cuomo would be “crazy” not to lift the fracking ban. That piece didn’t mention Rendell’s ties to the industry either.

Update 4:15 pm:

It’s worth noting that since leaving office, Rendell has been a vocal supporter of fracking around the country. He’s weighed in in support of a regulated fracking industry in venues including Huffington Post; the Nightly Business Report; a Manhattan Institute forum; the Austin, Texas, PBS affiliate; and a Wall Street Journal conference with businessman T. Boone Pickens. 

Here is a clip from the Journal’s 2012 ECO:nomics conference, in which Rendell says the burgeoning gas industry is “great for America in so many ways.”

Update 4/8/13: There's another layer to Rendell's fracking connections -- his law firm. 

Yes, Ed Rendell rightly takes credit for the pollution of the state he formerly governed, and for the fragmented forests, the illnesses and other adverse impacts we can see when we look at the List of the Harmed, and for the dead and stillborn domestic animals.  I am sure that he either does not know or does not care that radon accompanies natural gas harvested from shale.  It is obvious he is unaware that an estimated 9% of the methane released by fracking goes into the atmosphere and is a potent greenhouse gas.  Rendell is clearly connected to the gas industry and should be disregarded along with all the other compensated shills.

His successor as governor has continued to ignore the realities of shale gas drilling which include pollution of air, ground, and water and the trasmission of radon along with the gas.  Instead of being in a rush to get all the shale gas as quickly as possible, this country should be transitioning away from fossil fuels and, at the same time, finding ways to harvest this gas without creating problems that will be with us for decades.

Marianne Waldow

March 28, 2013, 1:05 p.m.

Whatever Governor Rendell’s reasons are for advocating HVHF, one of them can not possibly be that he has seen extensive scientific proof that it is not harmful, because such proof does not exist. He has accepted over $200,000 in political contributions from the gas industry in his run for governor of Pennsylvania, but he has not taken the time to peruse the 76 page PDF file of the list of the harmed from the Pennsylvania Alliance for Clean Water and Air, giving the impact on humans and animals in the state as reported to this group. There most certainly must be more.

HVHF is a boom and bust option. The gas industry notoriously overstates the number of jobs created, the monetary benefits to communities and landowners, and the lifespan of wells. They famously understate harmful impacts to water, air, and land and make sure that payoffs to landowners with damaged property and water are kept totally secret. Many of the pipelines now being built to the opposition of communities will be transporting gas to shipyards for foreign export, thereby increasing the cost of gas to American consumers, not decreasing it as purported by the industry.

Fracking is only beneficial to the profits of the gas industry. It is proving to be a bad choice for everyone else.

Stephanie Palmer

March 28, 2013, 3:17 p.m.

While I thought he was a great mayor and a terrific governor, I hate fracking.  Until they work out all of the environmental issues, I think it should stop.  It’s dangerous for it to be happening in PA, and it will be even more dangerous in NY. It’s wrong to sell out for the sake of a few jobs. It’s far more important to leave our children and grand children a land where they can breathe the air and they can drink the water.

Stephen Rosenberg

March 28, 2013, 3:47 p.m.

I happened to read Rendell’s op-ed piece in yesterday’s Daily News and
recalled that Rachel Maddow recently discussed Rendell’s ties to Element Partners re natural gas companies in the context of his status as a consultant to MSNBC.  What are the odds that Mr Greenman, the Daily News “Opinion Editor” had no knowledge of Mr. Rendell’s activities on behalf of Element Partners?

Lying piece of crap.

Sandra Sanguinetti

March 28, 2013, 3:56 p.m.

Canadian News outlets have reported this week a leak at one of the holding reservoirs which has leaked into the Athabaska River though the company is trying to downplay the impact when we all know that the stuff ie tar sands oil and its waste product is toxic, to the environment, humans as well as fish and animals that drink from the river.  Rendell is about the $$$ he hopes to make from the deal, much like Boener’s investments in seven Canadian oil/gas companies.  These bastids are hoping to make a killing.  Someone should ask them how much($$$$) is enough.

Bruce Fernandes

March 28, 2013, 6:01 p.m.

Naïve liberals will do anything to allow for any activity that can lead to wealth creation.

Go out and tell Americans you don’t care how much they pay for their monthly utilities if renewables were mandated like ObamaCare.  Go out and tell Americans that they should be willing to accept disruption in the delivery of power because renewables are not reliable and consistent and sustainable.

This is about hating humanity and anything that makes life better for human beings.

The anti-fracking crowd has been lying thru their teeth knowing that cheap natural gas keeps their green wet dreams from ever happening because they are expensive and unworkable.

Can’t wait to read on the day Obama approves Keystone.

Aubrey McClendon and the shale gas industry have figured out how to do one thing so far to date regarding hydraulic fracking which is how to spend $42 billion of investor’s money to sell $32 billion of natural gas to market.

The Texas Barnett Shale formation already has a 30% field output production decline after less than 8 years of operation.The Haynesville and Bakken Fields also now show clear peaking and decline trends. The typical Pennsylvania Marcellus shale gas well depletes at a rate of 67% of its initial output in less than 105 days.

Even at a wholesale market price of $9.00 per MBTu of natual gas, these companies do not make a reasonable profit and this is a fundamental truth no matter how much the shale gas industry and its paid for supporters want to ignore such realities.

As a taxpaying citizen of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and one who lives in Wayne County, where we have been fighting to keep this atrociously contaminating industry from occupying our environment for the past 5 years, I can only say that former Governor Rendell rolled out the red carpet to the shale gas industry since at least 2005.  He, and his administration, were a disgrace. 

Former Governor Rendell let them operate carte blanche, without adequate PADEP staff to enforce existing regulation, let alone “prevent” contamination, or, create new regulation, for his entire term.  His legacy displays multiple contamination examples, especially of the Monongahela River, loaded with Total Dissolved Solids, that lasted for months at a time starting in October of 2008, and, which prevented the usual consumption of water from the river by approximately 650,000 Pennsylvania citizens, those several periods.

Under him, and Secretary Hanger, we lived through the killing of Dunkard Creek, 39 miles worth, and, Dimock, among other areas, including the Susquehanna River bubbling methane from Chesapeake’s drilling.  More than one hundred households/families, had their health and welfare impacted by this industry, in Susquehanna, Bradford, and, Tioga alone, and, PADEP took years to, inadequately, deal with the consequences. 

In the end, we have families, who had the fortitude to fight to the end, being bought out of their homes, through court settlements in which they had to sign non-disclosure agreements, after several years of pain and suffering.

Former Governor Rendell is a disgrace concerning the shale gas extraction industry.  He has no future in the Democratic Party. 

If Governor Cuomo would like to have a future in politics, he would be well advised to avoid any advice offered by this man.

The fact that former Secretary Hanger has the chutzpah to run for Governor of PA, after his actions as head of the PADEP under Rendell, only shows how far we have fallen down the sink hole of corruption, under current Governor Corbett, who has received as much as 1.8 million dollars in campaign contributions from the shale gas industry.

Pennsylvania is a Commonwealth in great distress, and conflict.  New York, as dysfunctional as its politics have been known to be, is far enlightened, by comparison.

Thank you. I would like to hear the opinions of people who have to drink fracking water every day, for many years. If fracking water is healthful, why not bottle it and sell it? Thank you.

Surprise!  The Governor who allowed fracking into PA benefits from the fracking, and now touts fracking as a good thing.  No conflict of interest here… move along people.

Heck, Pennsylvanians was better off just burning coal.  The farmers would use coal to heat hothouses to grow tomatoes and carnations.

I have worked in the Oil & Gas fields and the nursery business here in Okla. I love the my state, If I knew or even thought that the oil business was hurting any part of the state that I hold dear to me and my family I would howl against. At present I am employed in the Industry and grow Landscaping trees….YES TO FRACKING!!!!!

Rendell is such a tiresome whore on MSNBC, playing the role of faux knee-jerk liberal. But in fact he’s a consistent and loyal shill for certain industries, namely fracking and road-building.  He always advocates for paving over more and more of the Earth by dressing it up with a term that apparently blinds most liberals to its environmental effects (most especially the noisome and sophomoric Rachel Maddow)—“Infrastructure.”  I’d investigate his ties to that industry as well.

Thanks for that, Justin -

Yes: Ed Rendell has been shilling—pushing for fracking for quite some time now ...

I’m reminded of the disgust I still feel from reading his school-boy-like (this guy was a Governor?!  But, then again, I live in Madison, WI, so I guess that question is moot) letter to the ditor of the NY Times a couple years ago in re their article “Regulation Lax as Gas Wells’ Tainted Water Hits Rivers” (February 27, 2011).

Read Rendell’s letter here:

“If the goal of your report about natural gas drilling was to gratuitously frighten Pennsylvanians, then congratulations on a job well done.”

Thanks again for this piece -

- jer

And give fracking a few years down the line.

Over 6% of the steel casing cement jobs fail FROM THE START.

In twenty years, 40% of the steel casing cement jobs FAIL.

And in a hundred years… 

Of course if you have no concern for future generations, maybe the 6% of casing failures just doesn’t bother you that much.  Never doubt how greedy some people will be when there is a fistful of dollars shoved in their faces.

The sociopaths are here there and everywhere… frack, frack, frack, frack…$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

This disingenuous creep, Rendell, believes that he and his cohorts can pull the wool over the eyes of vigilant Americans who truly care about the Earth and what we hand over to future generations.  He, like the guys who have become mega-rich out of Earth’s natural resources, have no thoughts about the future, they’re concerned with the operational bottom-line and are totally blind to the bigger picture.  Short term thinkers, that they are, will doom us all if we continue to sit idly by whilst they plunder the planet and destroy human life on Earth.

Here is an easy solution…how about you guys don’t Frac on the Eastern seaboard. We here in the Midwest will keep our energy to our selfs.

Bob, you can keep fracking to your “selfs.”  You are not heavily populated and do not have thousands of people who rely on well water for drinking and household usage.  But I suspect, if you check around, you would find a number of people in your area who have had their lives ruined by nearby fracking.

The problem is no one trusts private corporations to do the right things when it comes to protecting the environment or human life or our right to know so we can protect ourselves.  Nor do we trust our elected officials since they can be bought and controlled through campaign contributions and lobbying.  It has become very hard to judge and understand the rules and regulations needed to control this process since knowledge of the process is secret.  We do not know: how to nondestructively test and monitor the wells, what to do with the waste water and if it can be recycled without the flowback water becoming more toxic with each reuse, how to capture the released methane, what to do with the released radon gas, what chemicals are involved and if they are being stored in a safe and secure manner.  Recently, we have learned that the process can cause low intensity earthquakes this has been documented as occurring in England, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Ohio, Texas and perhaps other areas.  The U. S. Geological Survey has reported a sudden rise in the rate of 3.0 magnitude and greater earthquakes in areas where hydraulic fracturing of shale layers and deep hydro-waste storage wells occur.  EPA has issued a finding that the chemicals used in the hydrofracking process; as well as, methane can leach or leak or otherwise find a way into water supplies, wells, aquifers and streams.  The United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention and doctors across the nation have called for a moratorium on fracking pending further research into the effects of injecting hydrocarbons such as: petroleum distillates, naphthalene, formaldehyde, benzyl choride, volatile organic compounds and glycol ethers deep into the earth.  Of the 353 chemicals presumed ingredients, 60% can harm the brain and nervous system, 40% are endocrine disrupters and 30% are both suspected carcinogens and developmental toxicants.  Those who have studies the fracking issue, seen and measured its effects have identified seven major impacts: the industrialization of rural areas; clearing and fragmenting woodland, wetlands and grasslands; introduction of urban air quality and pollution; evacuation of communities due to accidents and lack of safety; the disappearance of fresh water due to the huge volumes needed; the long term bio-accumulative effects of RADIUM-226 (1/2 life 1,600y) which neither the state, nation nor world is equipped to handle and in the end the gas will run out but the environmental and ecological damage will remain.  New York State and other states should issue no further permits until these questions can be answered and the Hudson Valley, Delaware River and the Finger Lake Region should always be out of bounds as well as other unique regions of our nation.  Finally, the governor should issue an executive order, and the legislature pass a law allowing each level of government (village, town, city or county) the right and legal authority to ban hydrofracking within their jurisdiction.

Paul Felix Schott

March 30, 2013, 5:27 p.m.

Should not the title of this be Ed Rendell Backs His Own Pocket Book.

WE THE PEOPLE need to send Ed and all local officials that have anything to do with Poisoning are ground and water a message stop worrying get to love Jail.


Hydraulic Fracturing a Danger to us All.

Why would anyone think we have water to waste.

Some one forgot to tell all about all the poison chemicals that this ungodly Lisa Jackson gave a green light to put in are ground and water.
And help the Industry, so to they will never have to disclose all the poison chemicals they have used.

Only the wicked in mind Leaders in this Nation and around the world would let anyone Pipe Pollution into the ground to get gas in return from the Ground. Most all scientist have know this for many years that this will end safe drinking water for all that are in the area of where they are fracturing, in which Millions of Gallons of Dangerous Poison Chemically Treated Water are forced underground to break up rock and free gas. We need regulations from GODLY People that will stop 10,000+ wells a year drilled using hydraulic fracturing to free and make the Dangerous Poison Chemicals underground into gas. The primarily affect will be unsafe drinking water and many will become sick. THE HEALTH OF MANY WILL DETERIORATE because of A Few Wicked Greedy Leaders. Those who have made these decisions do not know Jesus Christ. Soon He will say i know you not. They belong in jail soon it will be hell for them. What sick in mind would let or want anyone to put Dangerous Poison Chemicals underground or into the ground anywhere.

The wicked are trying to sell and tell all if it is not near your home or land it is safe. This is the biggest ling of horse manure. Do they think most of We The People are that dumb or that most Americans lack any intelligence at all. What ever is put on or in the ground makes it way to our underground Aquifers, Rivers, Lakes and the Oceans. Every Scientist on Earth knows this and most all that have made it to eighth grade in school.

So why would any Leader with a good healthy mind ever say or want this?

Vote any wicked that has anything to do with this out of office they work for WE THE PEOPLE. Then need to go to jail. Soon it will be not jail but Hell. Revelation 11:18

United We Stand In GOD We Trust

The Lord’s Little Helper
Paul Felix Schott

Wicked Leaders telling their friends as long as you can cover it up and it will not get back to me it is ok with me. Are you sure we will not go to jail for making money by Polluting the ground and water. Of course not we make the laws to fit our needs not the health and welfare of others or as they used to say We The People. Its now the Wicked Leaders and rich Rule. Till our Lord GOD comes!

Solar Energy the way to go.
Many States Are and are Banning Fracking.

Archimedes and Albert Einstein
These two are at the top of the list of the World’s Greatest Scientists,
Viewed by Scientist around the World.

Sad that for the last 25 years or so of every teacher asked no matter what
Grade k through 16. At least 80% of them did not know Archimedes. Even sadder 90%
of them could not tell you what one of the most Brilliant Scientist to ever
live on Earth. Won the Nobel Prize for.

It was for the work Albert Einstein did to show the World it could get
Free Energy, Electric from the SUN. (THE PHOTOVOLTAIC EFFECT).
There is enough Energy from our SUN to power all are needs and more.

I live in Eastern, OK. and live on a fault line, and currently employed as an injection tech at a disposal for health insurance. On my days off I grow trees for landscapers, and do love the environment.  I have been involved in the greenhouse/nursery business all my 60 years. There are 4 disposal wells within 10 miles from my community and we have disposal’s in my part of Ok. since the 70’s, I just don’t see the problem. We have an abundance of spring water, damn Livestock and humans do’in just fine, Thank you!

You don’t trust corporations, not so much here either but I have 0% trust in the EPA LOONIES. I did not go to the Ivy league Universities, thank God but I do see a connection between the frac-phobics and the global warming nuts. The workers in our oil gas fields live here, they do a very good CLEAN job.

We have very good pastures, way too many deer, and we seem to live nice long lives. And we do have earthquakes every year before and after fracture. To me it’s like finding a new tree, researching a new tree is a life time. This may be fracking…

Remember tomorrow Easter Sunday…believe!

Bob, that brush your painting with is awfully broad, no?  Maybe skipping the Ivy League school wasn’t such a hot idea.

For the record, after reviewing as much research as I could find (starting with the IPCC reports), I’m convinced that Global Warming is a fiction designed to create perpetual revenue from the (factually beneficial) model of sulfur dioxide elimination.  I say that, having taken crap for it from the armies of believers, at least once a month for many years.

And I’m against fracking.

Shocking, right?  I must be lying about one of those two statements, and yet…not so much.

Fracking ignores science in favor of voodoo, by assuming that natural gas is only found in pockets deep within the Earth, rather than, oh, I don’t know, bacteria and fungus digesting organic matter.  Fracking ignores the possibilities of leaks as impossible, as apparently some gases do not expand to fill their containers or find their way to seep out of fractured containers.  Fracking ignores its own results, using the EPA’s Superfund playbook of discarding any evidence supporting a connection as anomalous.  (No offense, but claiming that the EPA is engaging in a holy war against big business suggests you don’t know a heck of a lot about the EPA or your business.  History says that the EPA would rather claim to be studying things, but then use statistical models that only draw conclusions with millions of sick people living in town.)

You’re using a small number of examples to model the universe.  The fact that I can tell you I drove into work without getting into an accident doesn’t make me a safe driver.  It could have been a fluke.  Only long term analysis across many situations can give that impression.

Maybe your company does it right.  I don’t know.  Good for you, if you found a company that’s ahead of the curve.

But clearly, some companies do it wrong, and energy companies have proven time and time again that they generally don’t care about little things like safety and the results they leave behind, as long as there’s a short-term profit to be gained.  Like the banks that tried to crash our entire economy because they wanted less oversight, the arguments from the energy sector ring hollow.  Deepwater Horizon wasn’t that long ago, after all, with their hearts and prayers going out to the dead and injured, but y’know, using a good seal was just too much trouble…

Cuomo had to take his bar exam 5 times… how is it possible that he can effectively decide these issues?  We experienced the demise of 39,453 NY state businesses last year, Cuomo is raiding $1.75 billion from the reserves of the off-budget State Insurance Fund (SIF). Coumo can not even hold on to his democratic majority. The distance between Cuomo and New Yorkers he is supposed to represent continues to broaden. He has disenfranchised the Northern and Western part of New York with his SAFE Act.. He can’t make a decision, either way with respect to fracking.  New York has the highest taxes in the nation. It is ranked as the least “business-friendly” state in the country. NY State politicians wish to legislate what we eat and drink.  NY State under Cuomo Governorship:

NY State under Cuomo Governorship:
570 jobs lost-Sikorsky Aircraft-closed
174 jobs lost -Dal-Tile Corp-closed
592 jobs lost- Archcare Inc-closing
375 jobs lost- Ralcorp- closing 2 plants
84 jobs lost- Vette Thermal Solutions – moving to NH
350 jobs lost -Daikin McQuay-moving Auburn plant to Tennessee
86 jobs lost-Oberdorfer foundry in DeWitt, NY is closing in May
65 jobs lost - Advanced Monolythic Ceramics in Olean – moving to CA
35 jobs lost-Bombardier Mass transit – closing
50 jobs lost-Spectrum Plastics – closing
160 jobs lost-Menands company (Albany International) – moving to NH by end of 2013
Remington considering relocating out of NY

This article is part of an ongoing investigation:

Fracking: Gas Drilling’s Environmental Threat

The promise of abundant natural gas is colliding with fears about water contamination.

The Story So Far

The country’s push to find clean domestic energy has zeroed in on natural gas, but cases of water contamination have raised serious questions about the primary drilling method being used. Vast deposits of natural gas, large enough to supply the country for decades, have brought a drilling boom stretching across 31 states. The drilling technique being used, called hydraulic fracturing, shoots water, sand and toxic chemicals into the ground to break up rock and release the gas.

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