The Post-Gazette's Feb. 23 editorial "No Show: A Public Hearing on DEP Missed Hearing from DEP" misses some key points. Gov. Tom Corbett's administration takes water quality investigations seriously. It was this administration that fined a driller more than $1 million, the largest single penalty in Pennsylvania's Oil and Gas program's history, in a case involving methane migration.
DEP's well-trained, expert team knows what information they need and tests for exactly that to make a determination based on science, not political rhetoric or scare tactics. Our Bureau of Laboratories was recently praised by an independent public health association, and our Oil and Gas program was found to be "well-managed and professional" by another independent review. DEP's staff, who have responded to every complainant who testified at the recent policy hearing and who responds to every complaint we receive, have decades of experience, integrity and a work ethic that cannot be questioned. The investigations in some cases resulted in notices of violation; in others, no issues could be attributed to drilling.
When our team conducts investigations, they make decisions based on facts and data gathered and verified using approved methodologies. In these cases, DEP's obligation is to determine if drilling impacted water supplies. Data that is not seminal to answering that question is not validated by professional laboratory procedures, and it is irresponsible to provide un-validated data to a homeowner.
Thanks to Act 13, which is benefiting every Pennsylvanian, we have more tools to penalize drillers who break the law and better environmental standards to protect groundwater. That legislation provided more than $204 million of impact fee money and millions more to individual municipalities. DEP is listening to Pennsylvania's residents and ensuring that drilling happens safely and responsibly.
Communications Director Department of Environmental Protection