DEP Power Grab: “Is This Nightmare Really Happening?
For Immediate Release
Protecting Our Waters
Contact: Iris Marie Bloom, Director (215) 840-6489
“In an unprecedented policy shift, inspectors in Pennsylvania have been ordered to stop issuing violations against drillers without prior approval from Governor Corbett’s new environmental chief.” So began a March 31st Philadelphia Inquirer report regarding Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale natural gas drilling. Protecting Our Waters Legislative Director Gerald Kaufman commented, “Unbelievable, shocking, unprecedented – these words cannot begin to describe such a ruling by the governor.”
“If this is supposed to be a bad April Fools joke, the joke’s on the governor,” commented Protecting Our Waters Director Iris Marie Bloom. “Terrible decisions such as this alienate most people, who believe public health and safety should come first.” Protecting Our Waters, disgusted (Fax to John Hines), demands the policy be rescinded immediately.
The natural gas industry contributed 1.2 million to Corbett’s campaign, so expectations for Corbett to protect public health were already low. “But who could imagine he would go this far to protect this industry and allow them to poison our waters, destroy our forests, and pollute our air by denying experienced inspectors the right to issue citations for violating Pennsylvania’s environmental laws and regulations?” Kaufman asked.
From January 1 2008 to August 2010, DEP inspectors found 1614 violations, including numerous “illegal disposal” of industrial waste incidents, at drill sites. High-volume horizontal hydrofracking is a radically new technology used in Pennsylvania for only three years. Drillers fracture shale formations a mile and more underground using high pressure water, sand and undisclosed chemicals to get at the gas. Despite industry re-use, the amount of toxic waste – often radioactive – brought back to the surface is increasing. Much of this poisonous waste ends up in streams and rivers which supply drinking water.
The Delaware River, from which much of Philadelphia, New York, and New Jersey gets its drinking water, is vulnerable to the poisonous Marcellus Shale fracking. Protecting Our Waters is one of over a dozen organizations now urging the Delaware River Basin Commission to extend its moratorium on shale gas drilling in the Basin. The DRBC comment period ends April 15th. POW stands for a statewide shale drilling moratorium.
Kaufman elaborated on the absurd DEP directive: “So we can expect that an inspector who finds a violation will try to find the state’s environmental chief, delaying action while the chief talks to his drilling buddies – who have been accused of violating the law by the trained inspector – to see if the violator thinks a violation should be issued.”
Kaufman asked, “Is this nightmare really happening?”