A major player in the natural gas industry that actively lobbies recently sponsored a congressional trip to its drilling sites in Pennsylvania, calling attention to the extent which companies that lobby can still fund travel.
Wes McClelland, an aide to Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), was the first staffer to file a disclosure detailing the visit to EQT Corp.'s headquarters and ongoing projects. Staffers viewed up-close a drilling rig and a reclaimed gas well after completing a safety course, according to the disclosure. Congressional staff also participated in over an hour of questions and answers with the company's senior management about the company's use of hydraulic fracturing, a.k.a. "fracking", to extract natural gas from the ground.
Ethics rules allow companies that lobby to fund overnight travel provided that lobbyist involvement in planning, organizing, requesting, or arranging is de minimis. Although this is EQT's first instance of privately financed congressional travel, EQT has a history of lobbying dating back to 2006 when it operated under its former name, Equitable Resources Inc. The firm's most recent lobbying filing from the first quarter of 2012 states that the company is lobbying the House and Senate on "issues related to the regulation of shale gas production and pipeline safety initiatives."