You probably have heard about the Corbett Administration's most recent initiative: our Department of Environment Protection (DEP) has ordered its enforcement personnel not to issue Notices of Violations (NOVs) to gas drilling companies when inspectors find someone breaking the rules.
Instead, acting DEP Secretary Mike Krancer now requires all enforcement actions to be sent to him for his personal approval before a notice can be issued. That's right -- enforcement actions to protect the environment and public safety are being delayed until the Secretary personally approves them.
The DEP inspection staff are supposed to be the environmental cops on the beat in the gas drilling regions of the state. When they find a problem, they should be able issue a Notice of Violation to alert the drilling company of the problem, and compel the gas drilling company to stop the pollution, change an unsafe practice, or comply with its permit.
Under Mr. Krancer's new policy, the inspector would have to send his NOV paperwork to the Secretary's office in Harrisburg for approval. In the meantime, pollution could continue unabated, or an unsafe condition could continue which would endanger the safety of workers or the public.
Inspectors have documented thousands of violations in the gas drilling industry over the last several years. These violations include: discharges of industrial waste, failures of blow out preventers, violations of the PA Clean Stream Law, improper well construction/casing and improper waste management. NOVs let the company managers and the public know the problems that need to be corrected.
We need stronger laws and regulations on gas drillers in Pennsylvania, not more bureaucratic inaction.
Thanks for your support,
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