With tens of thousands of residents from southwestern Pennsylvania reaping the consequences of the region’s booming oil and gas industry, local state legislators and senators are joining the rush to make sure they don’t miss out on the financial benefits. Recently, Senators Camera Bartolotta and Elder Vogel joined forces with their colleagues State Representatives Jason OrtitayJosh Kail, and Tim O’Neal to form a new company to address the needs of the region.

Their new venture, Kiddie Koffins, is aimed squarely at the rising rates of child cancer from a cancer cluster primarily located in Washington County.

kiddie koffins

Representative Kail recalls the initial brainstorming session that led to the formation of Kiddie Koffins. “We were all sitting around enjoying our daily legislative barbecue lunch one day when someone- I think it was Senator Bartolotta- remarked that while the tens of thousands of dollars in campaign donations were great, we were probably leaving some money on the table with this cancer cluster,” Kail recalled. “We thought about the future needs of the people in the area, and Representative O’Neal said what we were all thinking- caskets for children.”

Senator Vogel pointed out the financial benefits of the cancer cluster. “Look, we all know our schools are overcrowded,” Volgel said. “We have two choices- either pay more in property taxes or lower the number of kids taking up space in our schools. What’s the alternative- making the oil and gas industry pay a tax of some sort? That’s not what the shale companies sent us to Harrisburg to do.”

Vogel added, “It was a great example of working together to come up with real solutions to the problems facing the people we represent. It’s called ‘constituent services’, something the Do-Nothing Democrats should look up once in awhile.”

When asked whether selling coffins for children dying of cancer under the legislators’ collective watch as stewards of the environment who each swore an oath to uphold and defend the Pennsylvania Constitution, Representative Ortitay took a surprisingly pragmatic stance. “Look, it’s not like the PA Constitution has a section clearly stating the rights of all citizens to clean air and pure water or anything, so I really don’t see the problem.” When shown a copy of the Pennsylvania Constitution, he responded, “Oh wait, Article 1 of Section 27 of the Pennsylvania Constitution specifically says exactly that? That section isn’t in my copy, so it’s fake news.”

When pressed to see his copy of the Constitution, Ortitay pulled out a version printed by the Marcellus Shale Coalition, an industry trade group. Upon further examination, the portion of the document where Article 1, Section 27 would be located was covered in Pokemon stickers and stick figures colored in crayon.

PA constitution 1 27
Source: Marcellus Shale Coalition

Representative O’Neal became highly emotional as he dismissed critics who cite the cancer cluster as an area of concern. “Listen, I have kids too,” O’Neal sobbed as he deeply inhaled an onion concealed inside his shirt pocket. “And as a parent, I know that all I need to do is keep my mouth shut, collect my government salary and perks made possible by the tens of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from the hard-working lobbyists and executives of the oil and gas industry who are smart enough to live someplace safe, and then move away when the impacts become obvious.”

O’Neal went on to give some tough love to residents. “You’re all just jealous because I’m getting the money and your kids are getting the cancer,” O’Neal said. “Don’t get mad because you didn’t pull yourself up by your bootstraps to get hand-picked to be an oil and gas industry mouthpiece. That’s on you. And I’m a veteran, so if you disagree with me you’re automatically guilty of treason.”

Senator Bartolotta cited the prospect of jobs created by the Marcellus Shale industry as a prime motivator to entering the rapidly expanding child coffin market. “Supplying the region with mediocre-quality child caskets will create jobs, and isn’t that worth a yet-to-be-determined number of dead kids? Before I got on the Marcellus Shale payroll, I was making semi-pornographic movies,” Bartolotta noted. “Being a state senator for the oil and gas industry is much better- instead of selling my body, now I get to sell my soul, too. It’s really all about job creation.”

The group of lawmakers expects both the price and the demand for Kiddie Koffins to be high, so they are offering a layaway plan to make their child coffins more affordable. Early sales have been encouraging, especially for the “Local Pride” series, which features a choice of local school logos. The company also offers a discount for families with more than one child.

Local parent Becky Freckle, an ardent supporter of the Marcellus Shale industry, was among the first Kiddie Koffins customers. “It’s simple- I just took the money I was going to spend on Christmas gifts for my kids and started paying for their coffins instead,” Freckle explained. “I can always make more kids, but there’s only one Marcellus Shale formation. It’s all about priorities.”

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