Activists gathered and rallied in Pittsburgh outside of EQT Corporation’s April 17 shareholder meeting to call on the multinational gas giant to keep its corporate money out of the people’s elections.

Public Citizen's Rick Claypool holding a sign with organization leaders at EQT political spending rally

Public Citizen’s Rick Claypool (holding the sign) with PIRG’s Blair Bowie (speaking) and Keystone Progress’ Ritchie Tabachnick, Common Cause PA’s Barry Kauffman, PennEnvironment’s Erika Staaf and University of Pittsburgh graduate Eva Resnick-Day

EQT has poured nearly $328,000 into Pennsylvania elections since 2001 and $281,000 into statewide races across the country since 2003. On the whole, the fracking industry has spent $23 million to influence Pennsylvania politics since 2003.

What do EQT and the rest of the industry reap from this political spending?

On the national level, the industry’s influence has resulted in fracking– the process of injecting millions of gallons of toxin-laced water deep underground in order to break up shale rocks and extract “natural” gas – being exempt from major environmental regulations, including the Safe Drinking Water, Clean Air and Clean Water Acts.

In Pennsylvania, 47 percent of state forestlands have been leased to shale drillers and 80 percent of state park mineral rites have been privatized.

The influence is also obvious when you look at EQT’s tax receipts. EQT’s effective federal tax rate over the past five years was -1 percent – meaning that, instead of paying, the corporation actually received $2 million back from the IRS. In Pennsylvania – where EQT is headquartered – the corporation’s five-year effective tax rate was only 0.1 percent.

At the rally, I delivered the petition signed by more than 20,000 Public Citizen activists calling on EQT to stop polluting our elections with its corporate money.

Among the groups rallying outside the meeting were Public Citizen, U.S. PIRG, Common Cause PA, PennEnvironment, Keystone Progress, One Pittsburgh and Clean Water Action. Others supporting the action include Food and Water Watch, Coffee Party and a network of advocates and investors united behind the banner of the Corporate Reform Coalition.

“Corporate spending injects a corrosive agent into our democracy,” said PIRG’s Blair Bowie in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “(It) drowns out the voice of ordinary citizens.”

Before EQT’s shareholders was a resolution, proposed by Clean Yield Asset Management, calling on EQT to study the feasibility of instituting a ban on political spending.

Photo of activists holding signs at EQT rally against corporate political spending

Pittsburgh activists rallying outside of EQT’s shareholder meeting.

EQT’s shareholders did not adopt the resolution, but the demonstration outside the meeting – as well as activists’ departing chant of “We’ll be back! We’ll be back!” – sent the corporation a strong message that the public will not tolerate the industry’s systemic corruption and co-optation of our government, at any level, from local to state to national.

And, as this shareholder season moves on, Public Citizen and the rest of the Corporate Reform Coalition will keep holding corporations accountable and fighting to get corporate money out of our elections.

Rick Claypool is online director for Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division. Follow him on Twitter at @RickClaypool.

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Comments

  • Pamela DeFilippo

    This is exactly what is needed. Shareholders need to be held accountable for what these corporations are doing; they are in effect, the owners after all. Thank you for all that you are doing.’

    Sincerely,

    Pamela

  • George Frank

    Keep up the good work! We have to be vigilant in combating corporate influence in politics. At the least, fracking should comply with existing environmental regulations

  • Gabrielle Reeves

    Thank you for your efforts, although I sorely wish they were unnecessary. Here’s hoping we succeed before we need a revolution.

  • Zarna Joshi

    This is brilliant! Keep up the good work, you represent all of us when you hold these corporations accountable.

  • Michael MacPherson

    The problem is we have to get money out of politics, there are thousands of business sending politicians bribes to get the result they want. The people clearly do not count, our State and Federal governments are counting on the people to do nothing and just keep voting the same criminal bribe taking politicians back into office.

    We need an effort to start showing how much money politicians are getting from Corporations to influence votes. We need to keep telling the public the only way to get rid of Corporate money is to vote any politician who is taking bribes out of office.

    Until money is out of politics we will have a plutocracy not a democracy. We need a major effort to let people know which Politicians are voting against the people and for corporations. These politicians have to be targeted, knowledge is power.

  • Kelly Allison

    You’re doing the right thing. Thank you.

  • Arnold Nurock

    NO Fracking should be allowed anywhere!

  • Susan DiMarco

    Keep up te good work

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