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Thursday, December 19, 2013

Hanger Wants Independent Investigation Of Franklin Forks Water Pollution

Hanger Wants Independent Investigation
Of Franklin Forks Water Pollution

Calls For Creation Of Autonomous Citizens Drilling Complaint Office

Wilkes Barre – Citing a document showing that critical parts of the Department of Environmental Protection’s investigation into well-water contamination in Franklin Forks was actually conducted by the gas driller, Democratic candidate for Governor John Hanger today called for the DEP to conduct a new investigation that is “completely independent, transparent and full.”

Hanger also called for the creation of a new Citizens Drilling Complaint Office to function as an autonomous and independent investigatory bureau with responsibility to investigate complaints related to drilling activities in the state.

Hanger said that WPX Energy, the company whose nearby drilling activities may have caused the methane contamination of the water wells of three Franklin Forks households, wrote itself a key investigative report at the request of DEP.
John Hanger

“This is akin to putting the fox in charge of the chicken coop,” said Hanger, a former DEP Secretary during the Rendell Administration. “I ask Sec. Abruzzo to reject this compromised analysis, and start again with a new investigation that is completely independent, transparent and full.”

Hanger stated that serious questions about the mechanical integrity of some gas wells in the area and the isotopic characteristics of the gas at some gas wells and in the water wells cannot be answered by WPX itself. Instead, DEP must make an independent judgment of these important questions.

Hanger further proposed that the independent Citizens Drilling Complaint Office be created to investigate drilling-related complaints professionally and independently. “At this point,“ said Hanger, “DEP must regain the people’s trust that it is working for the public interest and not that of the drilling industry. Since Sec. Abruzzo is newly appointed, this is an excellent opportunity for him to insist on a new investigation that is independent of WPX.”

Hanger noted that the analytical issues raised in determining the source of ground-water pollution such as that of the Franklin Forks families are often complex and nuanced, so that different experts reviewing the same data can reach different conclusions. “That is precisely why there must be transparency and integrity in the investigatory process itself,” he said.
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Democratic candidate for Governor of Pennsylvania John Hanger is widely regarded as one of the most thoughtful and best informed progressive public policy experts in the state. Formerly a public-interest lawyer advocating on behalf of poor families, John is nationally recognized as a leading authority on clean energy development and environmental protection. He served both Governors Casey and Rendell in key positions: first for Bob Casey as Commissioner of the Public Utilities Commission, where he successfully fought to cap electric rates to save Pennsylvania ratepayers millions; and for two years as Secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection in the Rendell Administration. Throughout his career in public service, John has embodied the essence of his campaign slogan "Policy first, politics second."

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