In Friday’s Gannett newspapers, we took a look at a 2011 meeting between state lawmakers from western New York and Terry Pegula, the owner of the Buffalo Sabres and Rochester Americans who made his fortune drilling for natural gas in the Marcellus Shale.
As New York officials continue to weigh whether to allow shale-gas drilling, Pegula — whose gas company, East Resources, was sold for $4.7 billion to Royal Dutch Shell in 2010 — has largely stayed out of the debate.
But in late November 2011, nine months after he took control of the National Hockey League club, Pegula gathered Buffalo-area officials and state lawmakers in a boardroom at then-HSBC Arena. There, he and members of his East Resources team made their pitch for large-scale hydraulic fracturing, the much-debated method used in the gas-extraction process that New York state has yet to green light.
“He and his former scientist colleagues and the rest of his management called in our delegation to a meeting where they proceeded to explain to us how this is a safe industry and everything will be fine, we just need to have access to doing this in New York” Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes, D-Buffalo, said this week. “They said New York is behind the eight ball on this one and they should jump right in and let us do this.”
Peoples-Stokes mentioned the meeting at a Monday news conference in Albany, where members of the Assembly criticized Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration for not being more open about its ongoing review of hydrofracking. Three other lawmakers confirmed the 2011 meeting, and a separate but similar presentation was given to city of Buffalo officials the same month.
Once one of Pennsylvania’s most active political donors, Pegula has resisted, at least publicly, getting involved in state-level politics or policy debates in New York. He and his wife donated more than $400,000 to Pennsylvania candidates between 2006 and 2011, including $230,000 to now-Gov. Tom Corbett, a gas-drilling supporter.
Pegula hasn’t donated to any New York politicians since buying the hockey teams, according to state records.