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Friday, April 1, 2011

“Is This Nightmare Really Happening?”

DEP Power Grab:
“Is This Nightmare Really Happening?”

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 Protecting Our Waters, disgusted (see FAX attached), demands the policy be rescinded immediately.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?”

16 comments :

Anonymous said...

You fail to mention that a high percentage of "violations" as you call them are instances where silt fence may have been knocked down or fresh water being discharged.

Trained inspectors huh? Go to the DEP and find out how many of the oil and gas program personnel have been on the job over two years. Many of their reviewers of applications still have trainee behind their name.

There is also an issue of inspectors implementing their personal interpretation of regulations which vary from person to person so there is a violation given for something that is perfectly "legal" in a neighboring oversight area.

You are using exaggeration and the worst case scenario as a scare tactic.

Maybe the DEP should have categorized the violations that were written. To do this would eliminate the tactics folks like you are using to bash an entire industry.

Anonymous said...

i DOUBT VERY MUCH IF ANY FRACK WATER GETS INTO ANY STREAMS OR RIVERS, I BELIEVE YOU PROBABLY POLLUTE AND CONTRIBUTE TO POLLUTION MORE IN YOUR EVERYDAY LIFE THAN ANY OF THE CONCIENTIOUS DRILLERS AND FRAC CREWS IN THE MARCELLUS SHALE DO

Anonymous said...

When did the rants of an environmental group become news?

Anonymous said...

When did people forget to err on the side of caution?

What is more dangerous?

-A gas driller receives a citation that is unjust and needs to file an appeal?

-Already stressed DEP inspectors can't take action on dangerous activities without more red tape and bureaucracy?

This is how they do it. They muck up any possible environmental protection with a bureaucratic nightmare.

The Bush administration has it rigged so that the environmental review portion of issuing drilling permits for the gulf occurred well AFTER the permit was provisioned. (and we all saw how well that ended up for the gulf).

Corbett would have it so that even if someone identified a trouble, it could be days, weeks, months before anyone acted. And by then? Well let's just say I don't think anyone is sticking around to wait for the inspector to come back to that site.

...I have to wonder how well some of the pro-gas commenters on here are. It's well known that there is so much $$ they pay people to troll places like solomon's words and sway public opinion.

I like how the argument just gets summarized to "oh those DEP inspectors are all stupid anyways so it doesn't matter"

Here, let me try:
"I feel the guy working at sheetz isn't trained enough to tell me to stop dumping gasoline all over the parking lot. What is that guy's problem? He must be anti business. Stupid dumbocrats."

HOW ABOUT WE ERR ON THE SIDE OF CAUTION?

HOW ABOUT WE TAKE THE CHANCE A DRILLER RECEIVES A BOGUS FINE?

INSTEAD OF TAKING THE CHANCE A TRAINED INSPECTOR CAN'T STOP A DANGEROUS ACTIVITY??!!!??

Maybe i'll just start doing my own inspections and implementing vigilante justice if i find anyone trying to pollute my favorite rivers and streams?
Bad idea?

Ok then, let's let the inspectors do their work and give them the tools they need to do them.

.... unless you have a horse in this race?

Only someone with something to hide would encourage this new DEP power grab.

Anonymous said...

I for one am very grateful that all the leased landowners were kind enough to lease their land for all of us to benefit from this now cheap clean buring fuel

Anonymous said...

"i DOUBT VERY MUCH IF ANY FRACK WATER GETS INTO ANY STREAMS OR RIVERS, I BELIEVE YOU PROBABLY POLLUTE AND CONTRIBUTE TO POLLUTION MORE IN YOUR EVERYDAY LIFE THAN ANY OF THE CONCIENTIOUS DRILLERS AND FRAC CREWS IN THE MARCELLUS SHALE DO"

That is perhaps the dumbest comment I've ever read on this blog. I hope, at least, that that is sarcasm.

But whatevs, speaking as out-of-towner who is working the Marcellus Shale, the more you let us get away with, the more we will get away with. We ain't here to be nice (thought most of us workers are decent, honest working folk) or better the area's lot in life. We are here for your natural gas and if you bend over and let us take it without hindrance or protection, we will do as much. As guess what; when all is said and done, we'll move on to the next play and you'll be left with the mess.

Natural gas is a messy and dangerous business in regards to both the workers and communities involved. Don't be dumb about this. You will regret it.

Either way my checks will still clear and I don't have to worry about living in the environmental aftermath of the play.

Solomon's words for the wise said...

I agree with your appraisal that the gas company pro ridiculers are trolling all the comment sites. In fact, if they weren't so blatant about criticizing people who have genuine concerns, they wouldn't get as much harsh criticism of the industry.

Anonymous said...

6:18

That inspector "erring on the side of caution" is the equivalent of the Sheriff showing up regularly as you pull out of your driveway, inspecting your car and citing you because your brakes have the potential to fail and thus is a safety violation

6:31

What a crock, I am a born and raised Pennsylvanian who has worked for companies of all sizes in the Oil and Gas Industry for 30 years. Not one of them had the "take what we can and screw the locals" attitude. You sound like a professional blog troller for the anti-industry gang.

Anonymous said...

I also have worked in and around the gas fields off and on for over 20 years.All i ever saw was the dep/dcnr screwing the gas companys out of every penny they could get ! I have seen them use blackmail to get what they want new dep roads built roads repaired ect,ect.All at the gas companys expence! Happens all the time!!

Anonymous said...

@ 7:10:00 PM and you too @7:51:00 P

With 2, count them, 2 oil and gas inspectors for this 14 county region, both of whom have been on the job for at least 2 years (I can attest, as our first contact with Williamsport was 2009), how the hell can a troll like you equate 2 inspectors for literally thousands of existing sites in potter county alone, be at your friggin driveway every day of the week?

Listen carefully...If YOU DON'T DO YOUR JOB RIGHT...Get the hell OUT of this county.

Period. NO QUARTER.

We'll be out there with our video cameras, armed with the current regulations.

2 frigging inspectors for thousands of sites in 14 damn counties and you MORONS really think that's ....TOO MUCH?

You assholes are two much.

You better do your jobs right, cause we are watching you.

Anonymous said...

YEAH thats what we need more WANNA BE volunteer jackasses getting in the way and crying wolf!! It is you anti everything not in my back yard (assholes) that are to much!

saveourstreamspa said...

8:54 I think I love you :)
LB

Anonymous said...

4:39... You just made coffee come out of my nose when i read your comment ! That was good :) Tom corbett is the Dick Cheney of Pennsylvania. He likes to change the rules in the middle of the game. If anything, we need way more DEP inspectors to keep track of this industry. PS I`m Rupublican :0

Anonymous said...

This just keeps getting better all the time...

Anonymous said...

i want 6:19 drug tested....

Anonymous said...

Bring it on 10:16...think you scare me? 2 inspectors is NOT enough. The 2 we have are NOT untrained. This ain't rocket science either brick for brains. Someone has to babysit you juveniles.

So, fine...bring on your tough guy act, cause I'll make sure it's caught on camera. Along with every single mess you make and refuse to clean up.