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Pennsylvania Memogate: regulatory agency shifts power to the top

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By Nadia Steinzor

April 1, 2011

That Pennsylvania s DEP stands for Department of Everything Permitted as opposed to Environmental Protection has long been a joke among gas drilling activists. But now the agency itself has brought the image a step closer to being reality.

According to a new directive, DEP inspectors must now secure pre-approval from the Secretary before being able to issue gas company violations or taking related actions. Leaked from the agency to the media, the memos are short and informal. But they pack a punch straight into the gut of efforts to protect public health and the environment from the mad rush to drill in the Marcellus Shale.

On a practical level and in combination with continued budget cuts to the agency the action spells additional paperwork, delays, and backlog. More broadly, it takes influence over enforcement away from trained civil servants working in the field and puts even more in the hands of the Secretary, a political appointee chosen by avowedly pro-drilling (and gas industry bankrolled) Governor Tom Corbett.

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Tagged with: natural gas, marcellus shale, pennsylvania, violations, dirty drilling, accountability


Regulations for life

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By Nadia Steinzor

March 24, 2011

In the world of dirty energy, things often go awry. In just the last few weeks, there s been ongoing news of the nuclear power plant disaster in Japan, yet another in a never-ending series of oil spills in the Gulf of Mexico, and natural gas-related fires in Pennsylvania and Minnesota.

And what do many policymakers choose to do about such problems? Attack the very regulatory systems designed to protect people and the environment, for example through anti-Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) bills and calls for less federal meddling in the gas industry.

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Tagged with: epa, regulation, natural gas, dirty energy, fossil fuels


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