This is Ligonier's friendly neighborhood blog and an attempt to recapture our lively opinionated debates in a free speech zone.

Please join our conversations. Contributors welcome.


claysh@gmail.com

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Weak records cited on Pa. shale pollution

"Even when pollution discharges from shale gas well pads and impoundments contaminate private water supplies, those violations often go unrecorded or publicly reported by state environmental regulators, according to documents filed in the Pennsylvania Superior Court case challenging the constitutionality of the state's oil and gas law, Act 13. According to a 40-page brief, filed with the court in Harrisburg, it is the "practice" of state Department of Environmental Protection regulators not to issue a violation notice, fines or formal determinations of contamination where shale gas development companies reach private settlements with water well owners.

That DEP "practice," which began during the Rendell administration and continues to the present day, makes it impossible, according to the brief, for the public to know where and when groundwater, wells and springs are contaminated, because there is no publicly accessible record. "For us, this is all about transparency and the ability to protect water supplies," said John Smith, one of four attorneys representing municipalities that challenged the constitutionality of the state's 2012 oil and gas law. "The DEP must provide citizens with information about the potential harm coming their way. If it doesn't record and make available the violations records then it is denying the public accurate information, which is unconscionable.""