Is there a conflict of interest for Winner?
FINGER LAKES—Sen. George Winner (R-C-I, Elmira) was one of the nine New York state senators that voted against the moratorium on hydraulic fracturing (hydro fracking), Tuesday, Aug. 3.
However, some concerns about a conflict of interest with his law firm and a natural gas drilling company have surfaced. The Public Education Center (PEC)’s DC Bureau reported that Winner’s firm, Keyser, Maloney and Winner, LLP, has done business with Fortuna Energy Inc. (now known as Talisman). PEC is a nonprofit organization that works to bring public awareness of important issues.
Sen. Winner’s office was called for comments on this; specifically if this is true and if he thought it created a conflict of interest. The Observer received an e-mail, Monday, Aug. 9, with the following response from Winner.
“I have maintained all along that the future of the Marcellus Shale deserves to be decided by careful regulation and deliberate science. There’s too much at stake – environmentally and economically – for our local communities. Together with many of these communities and community leaders, I have been and remain strongly supportive of the ongoing, years-long regulatory review process being undertaken by the state Department of Environmental Conservation to determine the course of the Marcellus Shale natural gas industry.
“The DEC has carefully and capably carried out its oversight responsibility, and that process should be allowed to be completed without the interference of highly charged, highly partisan politics. It’s a regulatory process being guided, first and foremost, by environmental safety, and I have said every step of the way that it’s important that our scientific experts be allowed to do the work they do best.”
Back in February of this year, Chesapeake Energy dropped plans for a drilling waste water injection well in the town of Pulteney. Winner supported that decision. In a Feb. 16 press release, he said “It’s the right decision, and I’m pleased that company officials have been more than willing to listen.”