DEP policy clarification rapped as ‘disingenuous’

    A Democratic lawmaker calls the Corbett Administration’s clarification of a new Pennsylvania drilling inspection policy “disingenuous.”

    A new Department of Environmental Protection policy gives Harrisburg officials ultimate control over whether energy companies are cited for violations at drilling sites. The directive became public last week, when several news outlets gained access to an internal email spelling out the change.

    The next day, DEP spokeswoman Katy Gresh told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette the new guidelines are temporary, and will be reviewed again in three months–but the e-mails don’t say anything about a trial period.

    Allegheny County Sen. Jim Ferlo, a Democrat, said the administration “got caught with their pants down,” adding, “I think, basically, it was ‘let’s get away with whatever we can get away with.’ When they started to get criticism and it started to mount across the state, you see now this changing order.

    “Well, mow it may not be for the Marcellus Shale industry. Or now it may be just be for three months. We don’t know what to believe,” he said.

    DEP and governor’s office haven’t responded to calls for comment on when and why the three-month time frame was decided.

    Last week, Gresh said the top-down approach is an effort to make sure inspections are carried out in a consistent manner.

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