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