PA DEP Kills Directive Requiring Inspectors to Get Approval Before Issuing Violation Citations

Michael Krancer, secretary of Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), has tried (unsuccessfully) to defend a directive to make DEP field inspectors clear all drilling violation citations through Harrisburg first by saying that wasn’t really what he meant. The reality is the policy, whatever its intent, was poorly conceived and poorly executed. Krancer, who previously was an environmental law judge in PA, said the policy was meant to strengthen the citations so they would better stand up if challenged in court, and not an attempt to water down or prevent citations from being issued. Makes no difference. Krancer and the DEP lost the publicity battle and have now reversed the policy.

The state Department of Environmental Protection has killed a controversial directive that required all of its shale-gas drilling inspectors to get approval from the agency’s chief before issuing violations.

Katy Gresh, the agency’s spokeswoman, said the DEP’s top staff had reaffirmed to field inspectors that they have the full power to write up polluters without getting prior approval from DEP secretary Michael Krancer.

She said a controversial March 23 e-mail to agency workers – meant to be internal but leaked to the media – had been badly written in saying that Krancer would have "final clearance" over citations.

"The secretary’s intent was not clearly communicated" at the time of the memo, Gresh said Tuesday. All Krancer was seeking was to ensure that he was notified of regulatory actions, Gresh said.*

*The Philadelphia Inquirer (May 4, 2011) – DEP kills directive limiting violations on drilling