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April 09, 2016

Pennsylvania AG candidate Shapiro calls for fracking accountability

Democratic candidate vows to hold oil and gas drillers criminally liable for violations

Politics Fracking
040916_JoshShapiro Source/PoliticsPA

Josh Shapiro.

Fresh off of an endorsement from President Obama, Montgomery County Commissioner and Democratic Attorney General candidate Josh Shapiro released a new television ad this week calling on natural gas drillers to be held accountable for their impact on Pennsylvania's environment and communities.

“In the last eight years, the fracking industry has spent over $40 million on lobbying in Pennsylvania,” Shapiro says in the 30-second spot. “So it’s no surprise that although they’ve had over 4,000 violations, all they’ve gotten is just a slap on the wrist.”

Shapiro, who has picked up endorsements from Gov. Tom Wolf and former Gov. Ed Rendell, recently took the lead in polling over Democratic opponents Stephen Zappala, Allegheny County DA, and John Morganelli, Northampton DA. Shapiro held 33 percent over Zappala's 17 percent and John Morganelli's 16 percent in the Harper poll released last week. Still, 34 percent of voters remain undecided.

Pennsylvania has become increasingly aggressive in its prosecution fracking companies that violate environmental, safety and land use regulations.

Led by current Attorney General Kathleen Kane, the state sued Chesapeake Energy last December on behalf of 4,000 landowners who signed "deceptive" leases that allegedly cheated them out of millions of dollars in royalty checks. Last month, two Pennsylvania couples from the village of Dimock – made famous by the 2010 documentary 'Gasland' – were awarded $4.24 million for well water pollution caused by the drilling projects of Houston-based Cabot Oil & Gas Corp.

Pennsylvania voters will select the Democratic candidate for Attorney General in the state's primary on April 26.