Let’s say, just for fun, that you’re in charge of a drilling company. You see a bright future in fracking.
And let’s say you know that your state Department of Environmental Conservation is readying some rules around that popular drilling technique, which is upending the national and global markets for natural gas. Oh, about 1500 pages of rules.
You just might want to see those rules a little early. It could help your lobbying efforts; it could help you against the competition; it could just be highly convenient in all sorts of ways.
Turns out you’re in luck! Because that’s exactly the way things went down in New York late last summer. According to documents released to the Environmental Working Group under the Freedom of Information Act, New York regulators gave up to six weeks’ advance peeks at their rules to representatives of drilling companies — while local officials, landowners, environmental groups, and everyone else had to wait.
The state agency maintains everything it did was kosher. It was, ah, “stakeholder outreach.”
But the term “stakeholder” apparently was limited to holders of stakes in drilling companies. That seems, somehow, just a bit narrow, given that New York governor Andrew Cuomo is contemplating licensing the drilling of 50,000 wells. Some stakeholders hold higher stakes than others, I guess. Which perhaps is legal, but wouldn’t make me feel well-served by my government. Unless, of course, I really was that person in charge of a drilling company.