Despite a de facto ban on the controversial natural gas extraction process, pro-hydrofracking interests have contributed $15.4 million to political campaigns in the last seven years and spent nearly $48.9 million on lobbying state officials.

At the same time, those opposed to hydrofracking have spent far less: $1.9 million on campaign contributions and lobbying has totaled $5.4 million.

The good-government group Common Cause on Monday released a 68-page analysis of money spent trying to influence state officials on the issue.

Supporters of high-volume fracking argue that allowing the process would create jobs in the economically troubled Southern Tier region of the state, while a swelling environmental movement has raised concerns over its impact on water and land.

The money spent on the issue shows it’s time to enact some form of campaign finance and lobbying reform, the group says.

“Hydraulic fracturing has been one of the most polarizing issues in recent history, with no shortage of political money invested by pro-fracking interests to achieve a favorable outcome,” Susan Lerner, the group’s executive director. “The persistent and accelerated spending is cause for concern as lawmakers weigh this key decision. Yet despite being outspent by nearly 9 to 1, organized people have managed to overcome the advantage of organized money to make their voices heard. Nevertheless New York State needs comprehensive campaign finance and lobbying reform to assure New Yorkers that public policy is based on their interest, not the special interests.”

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has received the most of the statewide officials from pro-fracking entities, $994,150.

Senate Republicans, whose conference generally backs allowing permitting for fracking, has received $3.1 million.

In the Assembly, where Democrats have passed multiple bans on hydrofracking over the years, pro-fracking groups have given $1.3 million.

Sen. Tom Libous, a Binghamton Republican and vocal supporter of hydrofracking, has received the most of any state legislator, $368,305, since 2007.

The state has missed multiple regulator deadlines to regulate and permit hydrofracking in New York, a process that is now part of a bankruptcy suit in state court.

Cuomo has said he wants the science to guide the process. The Department of Health is studying the health impacts of hydrofracking, a process that has been underway for more than year.

Deep Drilling Deep Pockets 2014–Final Version by Nick Reisman