"How a Natural-Gas Tycoon Tapped Into Corbett"

"In the oil-and-gas business, it's called a wildcat well - when a prospector takes a big risk drilling deep in an unexplored area.

In 2004, a flamboyant Oklahoma City multimillionaire took out his hefty checkbook for what you could call the political equivalent of a wildcat well - and he struck a gusher, right here in Pennsylvania.

The $450,000 in campaign checks that energy mogul Aubrey McClendon wrote that fall helped elect a man he said he'd never even met - a relatively obscure GOP candidate for Pennsylvania attorney general, Tom Corbett.

That investment arguably changed not just the history but also the political direction of the state. The influx of cash helped Corbett narrowly win the closest attorney general's race in Pennsylvania history and propelled him toward the governor's mansion, where he has now pledged to turn the Keystone State into "the Texas of the natural-gas boom."

Meanwhile, the hard-charging company run by McClendon, Chesapeake Energy, is the largest and most active driller for natural gas both in Pennsylvania and across the United States - and its environmental record here is under fire for two major well accidents in the past year and allegations from upstate residents of tainted well water."

Will Bunch reports for the Philadelphia Daily News June 29, 2011.

Thursday, June 30, 2011