State doesn’t make all drilling complaints public

  • April 3, 2014

PITTSBURGH (AP) – Testimony in a lawsuit over shale gas drilling suggests Pennsylvania regulators don’t always publicly release records of pollution complaints.

The testimony shows that the state Department of Environmental Protection doesn’t always issue a violation notice or formal notice of contamination where shale gas energy companies reach private settlements with water well owners, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported Thursday. The lawsuit was filed by municipalities challenging the constitutionality of the state’s 2012 oil and gas law.

Lawyers for the municipalities claim that practice, which began during the administration of Gov. Ed Rendell and continues today, makes it impossible for the public to know where and when groundwater, wells and springs are contaminated because there is no publicly accessible record.

“This is all about transparency and the ability to protect water supplies,” said John Smith, one of four attorneys representing municipalities. “The DEP must provide citizens with information about the potential harm coming their way.”

Alan Eichler, the department’s oil and gas program manager, said in sworn testimony in January that the department “didn’t typically issue Notices of Violation” or assess fines when water contamination complaints were privately settled. The department later sent 64 “clarifications and corrections” to his testimony.

A department spokeswoman says non-criminal investigative records don’t have to be made public even upon conclusion of an investigation, according to the state Right to Know Law.


blog comments powered by Disqus

Philly fire truck cash injures 5

A look how Wolf’s budget proposal fared in the Legislature

Police officer shot, killed during call; suspect in custody

Taxes at bottom of budget battle

Officials say acorn shortage could hurt December bear hunt

Northeast Ohio nature center creates life-sized Candy Land

Man arrested after shooting in West Virginia Wal-Mart lot

Protesters call for end to gun violence in Harrisburg

Water treatment plants protest algae testing

Police chief resigns over slur