Acting DEP chief says water testing will continue

    Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett’s pick for Department of Environmental Protection secretary said Wednesday budget language giving the Department of Community and Economic Development the power to expedite permits is nothing more than a call for cross-department cooperation.

    The initial ProPublica article on the DCED language frames it as “unprecedented authority” for the department to speed up permits, as long as “the creation of jobs” is involved.

    Speaking during a House budget hearing, Acting DEP Secretary Michael Krancer said DCED won’t have the ability to override other departments, or speed up drilling permits. Instead, he says the language is a policy statement urging state departments to work together.

    “If we want to or they want to communicate with me on a particular matter, that’s fine. My door’s always open,” he said. “It works the other way around, too. If I want to communicate with them, then I’m always empowered to pick up the phone and communicate with them. And that’s very important.”

    Krancer also addressed recent concerns about radioactive elements making their way from hydraulic fracturing fluid into drinking water. “Our stream-monitoring network showed nothing. To take it further, we have directed, asked–actually directed–the public water supplies to test at their source,” he said. “We did that. We’re also going to ask the public treatment works to do the same thing.”

    The tests will continue going forward.

    Krancer said DEP expects more than $15 million in revenue from natural gas drilling permits during the next fiscal year. That’s up from the more than $12 million expected by the end of June. He also told lawmakers DEP is on track to carry out more than 7,000 drilling site inspections this year, and has already completed more than 1,400.

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