SEPTA (Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority) operates public transportation systems in Philadelphia and the surrounding areas. A closer look at the agency’s board of directors shows that several members have connections to, or stand to benefit from, the oil and gas industry.
Members of the board are appointed by the participating counties, Senate and House political leaders and the governor. Among the current board, five members have significant ties to corporate interests, especially companies linked to gas drilling or “fracking” in the state.
-Robert D. Fox, Esquire
Fox is a managing partner at the Environmental and Energy Law Firm of Manko, Gold, Katcher & Fox, LLP. The law firm represents companies that drill and frack in the Marcellus Shale. In January 2010, one of the firm’s lawyers wrote an op-ed for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette titled, “We can safely extract our natural gas.”
Marc Gold, one of the partners at the firm, is also an associate member of the Marcellus Shale Coalition, the industry trade association that works to promote drilling.
-William M. McSwain
McSwain is a Litigation Partner at Drinker, Biddle & Reath LLP, a firm that represents energy industry clients. As one news account put it, “Drinker Biddle has also started to occupy a growing place in the energy and natural gas space as the Marcellus Shale boom continues to drive the need for legal work in Pennsylvania.”
Several board members have received campaign donations from oil and gas industry employees and PACs.
-Dwight Evans, an appointee of Governor Tom Wolf, has received $22,100 in oil and gas campaign contributions as a member of House of Representatives.
-State Senator Stewart J. Greenleaf—who was appointed to the board by Senate Majority Leader—has received $6,184 in oil and gas campaign contributions between 1998 and 2010.
These ties raise questions about actions the board has taken to build a fracked gas power plant in Nicetown, which has drawn considerable opposition from community and environmental groups.