Last week’s discussion of the Pennsylvania Grand Jury’s report on alleged failures in enforcement of hydraulic fracturing is worthy of a follow-up. Here, combined into one document, is the Grand Jury’s report, the Department of Environmental Protection’s response (beginning on page 112) and the Department of Health’s response (beginning on page 165).

The Grand Jury recommends

Expand no drill zones, stop the “chemical cover-up”, regulate all pipelines, add up the air pollution sources, transport toxic waste more safely, deliver a real public health response, end the “revolving door”, and use the criminal laws.

The DEP responds

The report is unreliable, legally and factually inaccurate, not informed by applicable law or facts, relies on undocumented assertions, “does the public a disservice”, and the Attorney General failed to give the Grand Jurors accurate information.  This, from a Democratic governor.

The former Secretary defends the department

 A response from Michael Krancer, Secretary of the DEP from 2011 until 2013, says:

  • DEP’s oversight was evaluated by STRONGER (State Review of Oil and Natural Gas Environmental Regulations) which was recognized by the USDOE Shale Gas Committee’s August 2011 draft report as an exceptionally meritorious mechanism for improving the availability and usefulness of shale gas information.
  • The DEP’s “call to drillers” to stop delivering wastewater to ill-equipped treatment facilities is in direct contradiction to the “wait and see if the worst happens” allegation.
  • During Mr. Krancer’s tenure, EPA’s drinking water protection division found no evidence that the states were not doing a good job to protect the public from fracking risks.
  • The DEP acted upon environmental standards established by the legislature and the governors of both parties.
  • The DEP took a number of enforcement actions costing operators millions of dollars.
  • The EPA relied on DEP drinking water quality personnel with respect to oil and gas regulation.
  • To enforce regulations addressing cumulative impacts of wastewater discharges, the DEP enacted the first-of-its-kind “Chapter 95” regulation to limit the discharge of dissolved solids from drilling activities.
  • The report relied on unidentified witnesses, some of it old, out-of-context testimony, factual inaccuracies, and photos with no identifying information,
  • The report ignored DEP’s constraints as a regulatory agency to function within the authority given to it by statute.

As usual, these are summaries. Read the reports and decide for yourself who wears the white hat.

A musical interlude