Connecting the Dots: The Marcellus Natural Gas Play Players – Part 1

You Can’t Tell the Players Without a Scorecard!

The Beginning

Terry Pegula

One Sunday afternoon in the summer of 2009, there was a knock at our door.  It was a landman from Encana.  He wanted us to sign a gas drilling lease; we agreed to look it over.

We didn’t know much about gas drilling and what it would mean to our area.  Although we have only 3/4 of an acre, this was our little piece of heaven, from the woods behind our home to the view of the Endless Mountains.

I began searching the internet to learn about the Marcellus Shale Formation and gas leases.  Much of what I found were industry talking points promising a lot of money for leases in the form of signing bonuses and royalties.   The money would be nice, but what was the real cost?  The industry talking points didn’t say.

A local group, Gas Drilling Awareness Coalition of Luzerne County, began holding informational meetings and we went to learn the other side of the issue, the risks, and the potential hazards.

I am naturally skeptical of what I am told by any group or corporation.  My rule of thumb is to disregard half, and verify the rest – so back to Google I went and did my own digging.  This resulted in my becoming more involved with GDAC and going back to Google to check out the various Gas Corporations operating in Marcellus Shale.

As I researched Gas Corporations, I found certain names appearing in conjunction with other Gas Corporations.  I soon realized that jotting down names was not the way to go, and the Marcellus Gas Play Players spreadsheet was born.

Connect the Dots

The Marcellus Gas Play Players spreadsheet is very much a work in progress.  To date, it contains over 3,800 names of gas corporations, their leadership, boards of directors, lobbyists, astro-turf groups, industry organizations and politicians.   One dot leads to another and creates a very interesting picture of how gas drilling and politics mix.

If anyone tells me that corporate money does not influence politics, please let me know where you live, because it sure isn’t in America.  The amount of money pouring into Pennsylvania from the gas corporations is outrageous.  Pennsylvania does not have campaign donation limits for state offices – it’s unlimited and its power is enormous.

Marcellus :


The natural gas industry gave $7,175,234 to Pennsylvania candidates and Political Action Committees (PACs) from 2000 through the end of 2010, according to a Common Cause/Pennsylvania (CCPA) analysis released today.  $3,442,212 was donated to elected officials currently in office.  

The top recipient remains Governor Tom Corbett, with a total $1,634,096 in contributions from the natural gas industry. Corbett raised $1,083,315 of that total in 2009-2010 from 216 donations.  He is followed by Senate President Pro Tempore Joseph Scarnati, with $293,333.  

Giving by the industry doubled from the 2008 election cycle ($1,004,757) to the 2010 election cycle ($2,608,187).

Let’s take a look at one of the donors and the recipient.

Hockey, Gas and Political Campaigns    (Click here for Chart)                                                                        In February 2011, Bloomberg reports Billionaire Terry Pegula bought the National Hockey League’s Buffalo Sabres.  What does hockey have to do with gas drilling?  Maybe nothing, and maybe in the case of Terry Pegula – a lot.

On February 23, 2011 the Buffalo News reported:


Pegula drew violations as gas driller

In the course of making his fortune, the Florida billionaire, negotiating to buy the Buffalo Sabres, contributed heavily to politicians in a position to advance his business interests and established a less-than-stellar track record in the environmentally dicey business of drilling for natural gas, The Buffalo News has found.

A news review of compliance records found East Resources, the company Terrence M. Pegula sold last summer for $4.7 billion, had a middling record of complying with environmental regulations in Pennsylvania, his base of operations. The company last year paid the largest regulatory fine in its history and was involved in a spill of toxic wastewater that resulted in the first quarantine of cattle in the history of natural gas drilling in the state. 

(See: A Fracking First in Pennsylvania: Cattle Quarantine – by Nicholas Kusnetz – ProPublica, July 2, 2010)


From CollegianOnline September 24, 2010 article:



On Sept. 17, Pegula announced his donation of $88 million — the largest philanthropic act in university history — to help fund a state-of-the-art ice arena, as well as the addition of men’s and women’s NCAA Division I hockey programs to his alma mater (Penn State).Buying a Hockey Team, big donation to Penn State .


Where did the money come from?

Royal Dutch Shell Scoops Up East Resources for $4.7 Billion                                             By Tom Taulli Posted 10:57AM 05/28/10 Energy, Company News                             Excerpt:                                                                                                                   About a year ago, private-equity firm KKR struck a $350 million deal to invest in East Resources, a natural gas exploration and development company focused on an area called the Marcellus Shale, which stretches from Ohio and Virginia to New York. At the time, the transaction got little fanfare.

Well, now it’s getting lots of attention. On Friday, Royal Dutch Shell (RDS) announced it had agreed to pay $4.7 billion in cash for most of the assets of East Resources.

In Pennsylvania the subject of gas drilling was beginning to heat up, and it was also mid-term elections. The future of gas drilling would depend heavily on who would be governor.

There is no campaign donation limit in Pennsylvania. Anyone can give any amount to any candidate. Corporate wallets and political campaigns are wide open.

Approximately in September 2010:

Pegula: Marcellus Shale Development Good for Us                                                           EXCERPT:                                                                                                                         “If you could tell students here at Penn State one thing, what would it be?”

He (Pegula) paused for just a millisecond before saying,

” I would tell students that this contribution could be just the tip of the iceberg, the first of many such gifts, if the development of the Marcellus Shale is allowed to proceed.”

Penn State wasn’t the only beneficiary of the Pegula’s fortunes.

Kim Pegula (Terry’s wife) donated $180,000 to Tom Corbett’s campaign for governor.

Terry Pegula donated $100,000 to Tom Corbett’s Campaign for governor


Kim and Terry both list their employer as Royal Dutch Shell:


Total Given to Date: $180,500 (4 records)

Contributor Type: Individual



Occupations Listed: HOMEMAKER, EXECUTIVE

Parent Organization: ROYAL DUTCH SHELL



Total Given to Date: $100,500 (2 records)

Contributor Type: Individual



Employers Listed: EAST RESOURCES, SELF

Occupations Listed: PRESIDENT & CEO, RETIRED

Parent Organization: ROYAL DUTCH SHELL


Per Source Watch : Pegula and his wife, Kim’s, donations to lobbying groups and candidates accounted for 15 percent of all donations by the fracking industry.


Political Donations by Company Execs

Senior management has donated large amounts of money to politicians, front group PACs and the Republican National Committee.


Pegula and his wife, Kim, were frequent funders of pro-drilling politicians. Kim Pegula donated the most money in 2010 to a single candidate: $360,000 to Tom Corbett. Pegula and his wife are also major contributors at the federal level, with donations of $106,350 since 2006 to the National Republican Senatorial Committee and national and state Republican committees.


Pegula has also donated to his alma mater. In September 2010, he gave $88 million to build a Division I arena for Penn State’s hockey team. Penn State is also the home of The Penn State Marcellus Center for Outreach and Research.  The center funds research for the advancement of methane drilling technology and procedures in the Marcellus Shale area. They are currently conducting a study on the safety of tap water in the homes surrounding the wells and fracking sites owned by East Resources and Shell.


Politicians who received contributions: Governor Tom Corbett (R-Pa.), Gubernatorial Candidate Lynn Swann (R-Pa.), Senator Don White (R-Pa.), Senator Joseph Scarnati (R-Pa.), Congressman Glenn Thompson (R-Pa.) and Senator Patrick Toomey (R-Pa.).


Below is a list of East Resources employee contributions between 2002-2010:

Terrence and Kim Pegula – CEO and President – $630,000

Robert Long – Executive Vice President – $50,000

William Fustos – Chief Operating Officer – $7,000

Jack Showers – Director of Community Relations and Regional Affairs

for East and Shell – $1,500

Paul Dudenas – Engineer – $1,000



According to Common Cause’s “Deep Drilling, Deep Pockets”, Pegula and his wife, Kim’s, donations to lobbying groups and candidates accounted for 15 percent of all donations by the fracking industry.


In November 2010 Tom Corbett became Governor Tom Corbett.   The gas drilling issue is a priority for the new governor, so he decides to form a committee to make recommendations.


March 2011Governor Corbett announces the formation of the Marcellus Shale Advisory Committee.


One of the newly appointed committee members is none other than Terry Pegula.


I’m so surprised.  NOT.


November 2011 – The Penn State Sandusky Scandal breaks

Pegula silent on Penn State

November 9, 2011, 11:49 PM


What does Western New York’s most prominent Penn State alum and booster think of the sex-abuse scandal allegedly involving former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky that has rocked the university? So far, he’s silent.

Buffalo Sabres owner Terry Pegula has declined to make any comment on the chaotic situation at his alma mater that resulted in Wednesday night’s firings of football coach Joe Paterno and president Graham Spanier.


Pegula addresses Penn State situation

Business First by James Fink, Buffalo Business First reporter

Friday, November 11, 2011, 12:20am EST


Cliff Benson, Pegula’s close friend who helped broker the deal to buy the Sabres and is now a team executive, is listed as a board member of the The Second Mile, an agency founded by Sandusky in 1997, that aids at-risk youth in Pennsylvania.


Terry Pegula stands by $88M donation to Penn State, but demands school officials ‘come clean’

Published: Friday, November 18, 2011, 3:42 PM     Updated: Friday, November 18, 2011, 10:27 PM


Terry Pegula, the Penn State alumnus whose $88 million gift funded two Division I ice hockey programs, said this week he’s “standing behind the university” in the wake of a child sex abuse scandal, but also had candid words for university officials in an interview with Canadian sports network TSN.

Pegula also told TSN he intends to be more active in university affairs in the wake of the scandal to make sure “the right things are done.”

Is Terry pushing for the big chair as President of Penn State, or a seat at the Trustee’s table?  And will Marcellus Gas Drilling take even more control over Penn State and other institutions of higher education?

Money talks and money controls.


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3 Responses to “Connecting the Dots: The Marcellus Natural Gas Play Players – Part 1”

zebra114 comments:

This is one of the best researched and laid out articles I have ever seen on here. With all the politics involved in this issue, I commend the writer for risking exposing it all. Everyone knows how deeply Penn State is involved in the promotion of fracking, but few know the depth of that involvement. This writer really opened my eyes to so many connections that I didn’t know existed. I’d like to see more of the money end and how it is tied to the politics of this issue, if this writer knows more. I also enjoyed how candid the writer is. Easy to understand the connections now and an enjoyable read. Thanks so much.

Dissenta comments:

Thanks for your good work. The corporatocracy riding the tiger of energy with cheap propaganda is threatening to replace our democracy, while ruining our air, water, environment, climate. Vote out Corbett, Scarnatti and all those who vote for HB 1950 and SB 1100 in Pennsylvania. Pass Constitutional amendment to rescind Citizens United decision. For a start.

Huge work ahead, much of it education such as this research which we have to do for each other since commercial media largely won’t. (Keep the Internet free and open).

Looking forward to Part 2.

cstanyon69 comments:

This is a great piece of work; I am hugely impressed by the quantity of data you have in your spreadsheet. If you don’t already have a visualisation tool for network analysis, I suggest you check out the program “Cytoscape” – this is open-source freeware developed by the biological research community to represent protein and gene interaction networks, but can be applied to ANY data set that is comprised of a list of items that are “A link B”, where each item appears in a separate column of a spreadsheet or similar. In your case, that could be, for example, “John Smith 100000 FracCorp”. The first and last items are nodes in the network, the link is the edge that connects them.

I hope this helps you show visually how interconnected and corrupt the whole lot of them are. Good luck.

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