DEP, “Don’t Expect Protection”

DEP, “Don’t Expect Protection”

pennsylvania-enviornment_0Fracking’s Toxic Secrets: Lack Of Transparency Over Natural Gas Drilling Endangers Public Health, Advocates Say

Some frustrated residents and anti-fracking activists are finding new names to call the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) — “Don’t Expect Protection,” “Department of Energy Production” — according to Dana Dolney of ShaleTest, a nonprofit that provides free air and water quality testing for low-income residents near natural gas wells.

The department is taking heat for providing what critics see as incomplete water quality test results to property owners who are concerned about pollution from nearby fracking operations. Withholding such information, the critics say, could endanger residents’ health.

“Based on what is happening in the Marcellus Shale, we saw a huge desperate need for this kind of testing,” Dolney said. “We wouldn’t have to do what we do if it wasn’t for the failures of the DEP.”

The DEP and natural gas companies are defending the testing methods, asserting that the contaminants most likely to be associated with fossil fuel extraction are included in what is shared with the DEP and, subsequently, with homeowners.

Still, critics suggest the purported “filtering” of testing data is just one of the ways people are left in the dark about the assortment of heavy metals and other toxic contaminants that may be in their air and water as a result of drilling, hydraulic fracturing and other phases of natural gas production. Recent studies have identified more than 600 chemicals used throughout the process of natural gas production, and often left undisclosed by companies. Additionally, natural but equally hazardous substances can be released from the wells.

Fracking’s Toxic Secrets: Lack Of Transparency Over Natural Gas Drilling Endangers Public Health, Advocates Say

Not telling people the information you don’t want them to have is lying. It’s just easier to justify to yourself. This is what happens when an agency is captured by the industry it is supposed to regulate.

James Pilant

 

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Pennsylvania’s Revolving Door

Pennsylvania’s Revolving Door

The Flag of Pennsylvania
The Flag of Pennsylvania

Fracking and the Revolving Door in Pennsylvania | Public Accountability Initiative

Numerous top government officers and environmental regulators in Pennsylvania have either left their public jobs for careers in the oil and gas industry or come to government from the industry.

The revolving door trend in Pennsylvania raises questions about whether regulators are serving the public interest or private industry interests in their oversight of fracking.

The following are major findings from the report:

  • Pennsylvania’s previous three governors have strong ties to the natural gas industry. Tom Ridge’s firms benefited from a $900,000 contract to lobby for the Marcellus Shale Coalition, Mark Schweiker joined a lobbying firm with a Marcellus Shale practice, and Ed Rendell is a partner in a private equity firm invested in fracking services companies and recently lobbied on behalf of driller Range Resources. Current governor Tom Corbett also has strong ties to the industry – he received more than $1 million in campaign contributions from the oil and gas industry and previously worked as a lawyer for Waste Management, which is active in the Marcellus Shale.
  • Every Secretary of Environmental Protection since the DEP was created has had ties to the natural gas industry. Jim Seif is now a principal and energy consultant at Ridge Global LLC, one of former governor Ridge’s firms that lobbied for the Marcellus Shale Coalition; David Hess is now a lobbyist at Crisci Associates and has gas industry clients; Kathleen McGinty has served on the boards of two energy companies, is managing director of a consulting firm that is part of the Marcellus Shale Coalition, and is a partner in former Governor Rendell’s private equity firm; John Hanger is now special counsel to a law firm that represents every segment of the natural resources industry; and Michael Krancer is former general counsel at a utility that relies on natural gas and a former partner at a law firm member of the Marcellus Shale Coalition.

Fracking and the Revolving Door in Pennsylvania | Public Accountability Initiative

You should read the whole report – here. (pdf. file)

There are many people who find this practice of moving from the government to private industry and back again to not be a problem. I don’t get it. How is it moral to develop expertise in industry wrong doing to use it against the government later? How is it moral to work for companies that are heavily dependent on the government for profits, and then switch to government service with every prospect of returning to an extremely lucrative salary with that same industry?

Why don’t we just call it, “slow bribery?” You don’t get the money up front, you get in exchange for services provided over time.

This is how regulatory capture works. This is how public servants can cash in. This is how influence is sold for hard cash.

James Pilant

 

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