PA DEP Sec. Krancer Continues to Push Back Against the Federal EPA – Tells Them in April 6 Letter that PA is Doing Just Fine, Thanks

On April 6, newly appointed PA Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Secretary Michael Krancer responded yet again to the overreaching federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) with a blunt and factual letter outlining the measures PA has already taken, and new policies they will be taking, to protect drinking water supplies for PA citizens. MDN previously wrote (see here) about the EPA’s interference in PA’s affairs following the sensational claims made by a series of articles in The New York Times that claimed PA was allowing radioactive wastewater to be dumped into PA waterways. About the same time as the Times articles, the DEP released the results of ongoing water testing in seven rivers that showed radioactivity levels  were at or below normal levels.

The tug-of-war between the federal EPA and the state DEP is ongoing and will not likely be resolved any time soon. Sec. Krancer, however, will not be bullied by the EPA, and his letter of April 6 says, in essence, “We’re doing our job, here’s how we’ve been doing it, and here’s the new things we will be doing, now leave us alone” (MDN’s words, not Krancer’s).

MDN has noticed precisely one media story about the April 6 Krancer letter, written by the Associated Press. That single news story has been picked up so far by 179 media outlets, including USA Today, and starts with this opening sentence:

Pennsylvania is expanding the scope of water tests to screen for radioactive pollutants and other contaminants from its booming natural gas drilling industry, but state officials insisted they aren’t doing it because federal regulators prodded them.*

The article seeks to portray Krancer and the DEP as being “prodded” into action by the EPA. But if you read the full text of Krancer’s letter, he simply responds to the EPA’s requests for information and to their recommendations, by pointing out what has been done and what was already in the works even before the EPA sent their missive. Krancer says in part:

Unfortunately, your letter, along with the recent New York Times articles, overlooks DEP’s strong and ongoing efforts to protect the environment and public health. More specifically, the radionuclides and other pollutants of concern (barium and strontium) that were highlighted in your letter had all been previously identified by DEP and targeted in regulation, guidance, the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permitting process, in-stream sampling, and public drinking water sampling.

Read a copy of the entire Krancer letter below.

*USA Today/AP (Apr 7, 2011) – Pa. seeks more water tests for drilling pollution

  • Otegogas

    The PA DEP has proven they are incapable of adequately regulating the gas industry, and every house that blows up or private well that succumbs to stray methane migration in the state only serves to prove this point further.

  • Paul Cometx NYC

    Whether it came before or after the EPA’s letter, It looks like the EPA’s prodding got the Republican-controlled state DEP to start doing their job. There is little doubt that the general strategy of the new state government is to emasculate environmental protection and make the DEP subservient to the drilling industry. Already, DEP inspectors in the field have been ordered not issue a drilling violation under any circumstances, but only to recommend it to the highly politicized DEP leadership.

    I have commented repeatedly that if the drilling industry does its work with care and adherence to environmental safeguards, then they will be welcome on Pennsylvania lands. But if they cut corners, obfuscate the facts and buy off environmental regulators with campaign contributions and job offers then they will face an angry citizenry, while the new political leaders will face a voter backlash.

    More and more citizens are beginning to feel like the old adage “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me”. The fact is that the Marcellus boom benefits only the large landowners. The owners of a few acres stand to gain only some pocket change in bonuses and royalties while the drilling degrades their quality of life and possibly reduces the value of their property (who is going to buy a property where a huge compressor can be heard day and night?). For this reason the drilling industry should have an attitude of fanatical care for the feelings of the people who live around them. That means spending serious money to silence compressor noise, situating flow-back ponds away from inhabited areas, and generally being a good neighbor. Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.

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