WASHINGTON — Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush plans to release his energy policy at an event near Pittsburgh on Tuesday, and the site of his announcement has a history of environmental violations in the state.
Bush is slated to announce his energy plan at Rice Energy, an oil and gas company based in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania. The company has three subsidiaries operating in the state: Rice Drilling, Rice Midstream Holdings and Rice Poseidon Holdings. The subsidiaries have amassed a total 121 violations with the state Department of Environmental Protection since 2010, and $523,550 in fines, according to the DEP’s Office of Oil and Gas Management database.
Rice’s violations included failure to submit reports or post appropriate signage, as well as “failure to report defective, insufficient, or improperly cemented casing” and “failure to properly control or dispose of industrial or residual waste to prevent pollution of the waters of the Commonwealth.”
The Wall Street Journal reported on violations at Rice-owned wells in 2012, and the numbers have climbed since then.
Neither Rice Energy nor the Bush campaign responded to a request for comment on the company’s record.
The contents of Bush’s energy plan won’t be disclosed until Tuesday, but his site selection for the announcement is telling. Rice is an oil and gas company operating in the heart of the boom in the Marcellus and Utica shale regions. Innovations in drilling techniques like hydraulic fractring and the discovery of much larger reserves of natural gas have led to a major increase in production in this part of the country in the last decade. Bush also extolled the virtues off the gas boom in an op-ed earlier this year, calling it “one of the greatest economic transformations in American history.”
There may also be some clues in Bush’s energy policy advisers, listed in a Bloomberg story last week. Several of them are throwbacks to the administration of his brother, who touted domestic oil and gas production. They include Marcus Peacock, who served as a deputy at the Environmental Protection Agency and an associate director for natural resource programs at the Office of Management and Budget under George W. Bush.
Another adviser is Jeff Kupfer, who was a deputy secretary at the U.S. Department of Energy under George W. Bush and is now on the board of directors at Pennsylvania-based oil and gas company Atlas Energy. He has also worked at Chevron, where he led policy, legislative and regulatory initiatives for the company’s Marcellus Shale business unit, according to an online resume.
The candidate’s third energy adviser is Brian Yablonski, the director of external affairs at Gulf Power Company, a division of the electric utility Southern Company. He also serves as the appointed chairman of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and was a deputy chief of staff and director of policy while Bush was governor.
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