Saturday, May 16, 2009

Pennsylvania DEP secretary answers complaints

by Tom Kane, The River Reporter Online

HARRISBURG, PA - John Hanger has spoken.

Responding to a cascade of complaints from every sector of state and local governments for instituting a measure curtailing the role of local community conservation districts (CCD) in monitoring gas well drilling, Hanger, the newly appointed Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Secretary, sent a generic letter to all conservation district managers defending his early spring action.

On March 18, DEP summarily made a decision to transfer responsibility for reviews and permit functions associated with oil and gas drilling and related activities from the CCDs to the DEP Regional Office Oil and Gas Management Program. The decision was arrived at without consultation of any conservation district, which was unprecedented.

The letter detailed various reasons the action was taken. In summary, some of the reasons given were that combining the permit and inspection function to one agency “should lead to more protective and efficient regulations” and that by taking on these CCD functions, DEP inspection staff will be responsible for all aspects of gas operations, which would “create a more efficient and effective process that will better protect water resources.”

The statement said that the creation of a new regional office staff will make even stronger oversight and that this “cradle to grave responsibility will provide greater consistency for gas operators, as well as DEP’s overall regulatory responsibilities to safeguard the people’s right to clean water.”


The letter ended with this closing statement: “While Pennsylvania’s natural gas reserves could increase the supply of a clean burning fuel, with very important climate and air benefits and yield billions of dollars and tens of thousands of jobs for our communities and families, we will not compromise the state’s environmental regulations in the production of gas.”

For the complete story, including commissioner responses, click HERE.

Mr. Hanger appears to be making a clear statement of accountability on behalf of the environment here. We need to monitor the progress of drilling in the state of Pennsylvania carefully!


1 comment:

  1. From what I know about the conservation districts, which isn't much, they are beneficial and should be reinstituted because they are made up of local people who know the areas they oversee. By giving this responsibility to the PA DEP, I believe that the watch dog effect is diminished. The DEP errs on the side of the gas industry. It is hard, if not impossible, to both a fox and a hen. How effectively will the DEP safeguard our environment? Part of its job is to maximize profits for the state from gas and oil. Will money win here?

    Mr. Hanger may have the best of intentions, to give him the benefit of the doubt. However, when he talks about gas as a clean burning fuel with very important climate and air benefits, I have to question his sincerity or perhaps his familiarity with the gas drilling industry. Getting to the tight gas deep in the shale below us requires a filthy procedure (hydrofracking) which pollutes the air, the soil, and our precious water. After we've done that, then maybe we can say the gas is cleaner. But at what price? Also, some of the tens of thousands of jobs which Hanger refers to are jobs made necessary by the destruction from the gas drilling industry, including clean-up jobs, hazmat jobs, landscaping jobs, road repair jobs, emergency medical service jobs, fire fighting services, drug abuse counselors, police jobs, and plenty of lawyer jobs to handle all the litigation that will ensue over decades. WE DON'T WANT TO CREATE THESE KINDS OF JOBS! WHY NOT CREATE JOBS THAT WILL RESEARCH AND PRODUCE SUSTAINABLE ENERGY SOURCES WHILE PRESERVING OUR ENVIRONMENT AND OUR HEALTH? To brag about all the jobs that will be created because of the mess we will have on our hands is a special kind of insanity. We can be more creative than this.



Natural gas development in Colorado, the impacts on communities, environment and public health. A primer for public servants and residents of counties that care for their lifestyles.

Drilling for Gas in Bradford County, PA ... Listen!

Cattle Drinking Drilling Waste!

EPA... FDA... Hello? How many different ways are we going to have to eat this? ... Thank you TXSharon for all you do! ... Stay tuned in at


A film by Txsharon. Thank you Sharon for all you do. Click HERE to read the complete article on Bluedaze: Landfarms: Spreading Toxic Drilling Waste on Farmland

SkyTruth: Upper Green River Valley - A View From Above