Pennsylvania Democratic Party gubernatorial candidate and former head of the state's Department of Environmental Protection, Kathleen "Katie" McGinty, has hired powerful PR firm SKDKnickerbocker for her campaign's communications efforts.
SKDKnickerbocker, once known as Squier Knapp Dunn, is co-owned by President Barack Obama's former Communications Director Anita Dunn and a member of Obama's national media team for his 2008 run for president, Bill Knapp. Both Dunn and Knapp previously did PR for U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's 2004 run for president, as well.
One of SKDKnickerbocker's key clients is TransCanada, owner of the Keystone XL tar sands export pipeline.
Another key SKDKnickerbocker client? The Association of American Railroads, that industry's version of the American Petroleum Institute. Rail is an increasingly viable alternative to pipelines for bringing tar sands and fracked oil to market. Both McGinty and Dunn also have key marital connections with skin in the game for the looming decision over the prospective northern half of Keystone XL: Karl Hausker and Robert "Bob" Bauer, respectively.
Hausker is the former vice president of ICF International, one of three contractors chosen by TransCanada to do the now hotly contested U.S. State Depatment Keystone XL environmental review.
ICF and the more-publicized Environmental Resources Management, Inc. (ERM Group) concluded that Keystone XL's northern half would have negligible climate change impacts. Keystone XL's southern half, TransCanada's Gulf Coast Pipeline, is 95% built and ready to send 700,000 barrels of tar sands per day from Cushing, Oklahoma to Port Arthur, Texas by year's end.
A previous DeSmogBlog investigation also revealed Hausker and McGinty have myriad ties to the controversial horizontal drilling process known as hydraulic fracturing ("fracking"), both at the federal and state level.
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Bauer, meanwhile, is President Obama's personal attorney, former White House Counsel, and Obama's election law attorney for the 2008 and 2012 elections, as well as John Kerry's 2004 election law attorney. Best known for bending election law to help corporations flood electoral races with more and more money, the private law firm he works at, Perkins Coie, has an attorney-client relationship with TransCanada in Alaska.
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The end result is that the top three candidates in Pennsylvania's gubernatorial campaign are all fracking cheerleaders: Katie McGinty; Democrat John Hanger, who was DEP head after McGinty; and the incumbent Republican Tom Corbett.
McGinty currently works for the shale gas industry as a business partner of Ed Rendell's at Element Partners, which provides investment capital to shale-gas industry start-ups.
She also sat on the industry-stacked U.S. Department of Energy Fracking Subcommittee, which penned the fracking chemical disclosure standards that would eventually become an American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) model bill and part of President Obama's Department of Interior's rules for fracking on public lands.
John Hanger, a key character in the film Gasland, has increasingly become a fracking apologist since leaving the DEP when Corbett won the 2010 election. So much so, in fact, he was interviewed for the Energy In Depth-produced propaganda film, Truthland.
Last winter, Hanger penned an article criticizing DeSmogBlog's coverage of the shale gas bubble, and he recently wrote a telling piece for The Guardian titled, "If you care about the environment, you should welcome natural gas fracking." Telling because Cornell University scientists have discovered fracking is actually dirtier than coal production when measured over its entire lifecycle.
And under Corbett, Pennsylvania has more or less become a "banana republic" run by a "Banana Republican," with the industry running roughshod over rural communities left and right with little accountability. Corbett raised over $1.8 million from the frackers for his 2010 electoral campaign and the same is likely in the cards for 2014.
To put it bluntly and succinctly: Pennsylvania's fracked. Which means at the end of the day, we all are.