Published: August 7, 2014
By: Nadia Steinzor
Other parts of Blackout in the Gas Patch:
- Press release
- Full Report
- Case study: Pam Judy
- Case study video: Infrared video of air pollution near Judy residence
- Photos from the report
From the executive summary:
Representative of a nationwide trend in recent years, Pennsylvania’s oil and gas regulatory agency, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), has faced steep budget cutbacks at the same time that development has surged. Exacerbating the problem of limited oversight capacity, Governor Corbett issued an Executive Order in 2012 requiring DEP to speed the permitting of new devel- opment by guaranteeing decisions within set timeframes.
Blackout in the Gas Patch: How Pennsylvania Residents are Left in the Dark on Health and Enforcement examines the consequences of prioritizing industry expansion without an equal commitment to protecting the public. We started this work from the perspective of residents living with gas and oil development, asking what they need to know to make sense of what’s happening around them. Our goal was to examine how events at certain gas well sites and facilities may have affected air and water quality and the health of nearby residents, as well as how DEP and opera- tors handled these situations.
Earthworks conducted a year-long investigation into how DEP permits and oversees gas and oil operations, what has occurred at certain loca- tions, and the circumstances facing numerous households and communities. Our work included in-depth analysis of DEP files and reports, independent environmental testing, review of current science, and discussions with residents statewide. In the process, we confronted inconsistent and sometimes inaccessible documentation, requiring the piecing together of a complicated puzzle of information.