Organizations call for possible fracking ‘conflict of interest’ - NEWS10 ABC: Albany, New York News, Weather, Sports

Organizations call for possible fracking ‘conflict of interest’ investigation

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ALBANY, N.Y. -- Organizations are calling on the Albany County District Attorney to investigate a possible conflict of interest when it comes to fracking in New York.

The groups say documents show one of Governor Cuomo's closest advisors Larry Schwartz has stock investments in companies that could be involved in gas drilling.

According to the groups, Schwartz has reported stock investments in several drilling companies with interests in shale gas including a company that he lists as "Mobile Exon" apparently a reference to Exxon Mobil, a natural gas producer with a direct interest in the outcome of New York's debate over hydraulic fracturing due to its recent $41 billion purchase of XTO, a subsidiary with 43,000 acres of natural gas leases in New York. Documents show that Mr. Schwartz invested in Exxon Mobil for the first time in 2010, just after Exxon purchased XTO and acquired a direct interest in the outcome of New York's debate over hydraulic fracturing.

Schwartz has also reported financial interests in a firm he identified as "Williams Co.," apparently a reference to "The Williams Companies Inc.," an oil and gas pipeline firm that has an interest in the Marcellus Shale formation, particularly given with the Williams Companies recent $750 million "Constitution Pipeline" that would go through the Southern Tier and connect with existing pipelines in Schoharie County.

Groups including Public Citizen, Food & Water Watch, Frack Action, and Catskill Citizens for Safe Energy released a letter to Albany County District Attorney David Soares that details concerns and calls on DA Soares to investigate.

They've launched a new website claiming the advisor could help shape New York's decision and do not want this possible conflict of interest to cloud judgment during this major decision.

"We are outraged to discover that Governor Cuomo's top aide is so heavily invested in oil and gas companies and further that he made these investments during the very timeframe this administration has been considering whether to allow fracking in New York. Clearly, this administration must not allow fracking to move forward under this cloud of scandal," said Alex Beauchamp of the Food and Water Watch.

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