The Dirtiest DEP

Does The Corbett Administration Hate Nature As Much As They Hate Environmentalists?

Not all Pennsylvanians are prepared to accept the governor’s latest executive order for a fracking “Permit Decision Guarantee” without crying foul, as Kevin Begos of the Associated Press reports via Businessweek in Foes: Pa. State Permit Order Threatens Environment.

StateImpact’s Scott Detrow appears to concur that Corbett’s new decree is a potential political misstep in How Will Corbett’s Executive Order Change The Marcellus Permitting Process? on August 13, 2012. Though he barely hints at it, Detrow’s article earned him a proper bitch-slapping in the Comments section by the governor’s hyper-conservative energy czar, Patrick Henderson, who takes to task both StateImpact and the AP for their apparent and willful lack of “context.” 

Henderson insults the intelligence of the average NPR reader. Anyone can see that the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection is an agency working at cross-purposes amidst steep budget cuts. To develop shale gas and to protect the environment, these aims are mutually exclusive. I’m not even sure the DEP is of much use to Pennsylvanians these days, unless the initials stand for Department of Expedited Permits.

Random reader, barneycs, however, voices the most common qualm over Tom Corbett in the Comments section of the Businessweek article:

The Govenor is really good at trying to rush policies that make money for those he owes at the expense of the citizens who actually pay his salary. As Attorney General he dragged out the Jerry Sandusky investigation long enough to make sure it did not affect his run for Govenor. Does anyone think he would have been elected Govenor if he had arrested Sandusky sooner. Fast for his friends slow for his own political sake.

In the AP article, PennFuture’s fairly new top gun, attorney and former DEP official George Jugovic, Jr. puts a fine point on the significance of Corbett’s latest gift to gas drillers:

This executive order does not recognize any of the complexities of what the agency is required to do,” Jugovic added. It also won’t affect operations “other than to further beat down an already demoralized staff.

PennFuture may be a “big green” with a sorta spotty reputation, but I like this guy! He’s seen how DEP operates from the inside, and he remains undaunted by Secretary Krancer’s tendency to fall back on complex legalese to shift attention away from valid environmental concerns. Jugovic also said, “It’s going to put the public health and safety at risk… I think the message is clear. Issuing the permit has a higher priority than doing a fair and thorough job of insuring that the application complies with the law.

Doesn’t get any clearer.

Summer In Gasland

Only weeks earlier, in the gas bubble that is the Pennsylvania portion of the Marcellus Shale, PA DEP spokesperson Dan Spadoni was busy downplaying the severity of a 4,700 gallon hydrochloric acid spill at a Bradford county well site, blaming the spill on the all-too-common “valve failure.”

The acid breached containment and flowed off the well pad… Some of the acid was collected in a sedimentation pond, while the remainder flowed through a field and some reached a small tributary to Towanda Creek causing a minor fish kill. Dams were constructed in the tributary before any acid reached Towanda Creek,” according to StateImpact.

A few weeks later, in New Columbia, White Deer, PA another Pennsylvania “valve-failure” incident resulted in another hydrochloric acid spill. It barely made the papers, though the highly toxic cloud of vapor engulfed an entire neighborhood, mini-mart and all, which was then evacuated in the middle of the night.

And so the fraccidents continue, all summer long, and all on the heels of DEP Secretary Krancer’s giddy, June-time stumping for a natural gas processing facility in Delaware County, PA, in which the secretary promised “DEP employees will ‘work night and day’ to get industry the necessary permits.

Less than a month later, on July 13, 2012, Krancer could be found explaining away more gas industry methane pollution in Bradford County, the most drilled out county in the universe, as reported in DEP Secretary: Methane May Have Leaked Through Perforations In Bradford Gas Well by Laura Legere in The Times-Tribune.

Gas vs. Water
If all this insanity is making you crazy, here’s a reality check from sub-radical and unpaid professional fractivist, Alexander Lotorto. This subversive little nugget, Water Resource Portal Map, can be found at and it shows water wells and gas pads in the Susquehanna River watershed. It was created by the Susquehanna River Basin Commission and, essentially, it depicts Pennsylvania’s Sacrifice Zone. Funny, I never thought of the SRBC as a bunch of enviro-radicals, yet maybe now Corbett and Henderson will feel justified in choking off this relatively small, obscure state agency’s funding even further.

Want to make your brain explode? Watch Dr. Anthony Ingraffea’s master class presentation Facts on Fracking, which I’m embedding here simply to irritate his critics at DEP.

Stop Fracking Pennsylvania!


[UPDATE: August 29, 2012]

DEP Proposes Stronger Rules For Regulating Shale Industry by Don Hopey, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, August 28, 2012

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3 Responses to “The Dirtiest DEP”

  1. Dory Says:

    See:DEP Secretary Krancer and 212ºF (The Boiling Point of Water)

  2. Toxic Gas Data Emitted From Harrisburg « Keep Tap Water Safe Says:

    […] Only days later did it come to light that, around the same time Governor Corbett was signing an executive order for expedited gas drilling “Permit Guarantees”, PA DEP was promoting its fatally flawed report, without a disclaimer, or even a lick of […]

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