Harrisburg, PA - Inspired by a multi-part investigation by the Public Herald, Pennsylvanians Against Fracking released a letter signed by over 50 organizations to Attorney General Shapiro demanding an investigation into the Department of Environmental Protection’s mishandling of public complaints about oil and gas drilling.
The three-year investigation by the Public Herald revealed that the DEP has received nearly 10,000 citizen complaints linked to drilling in the state. But in numerous cases, the department failed to fully investigate the cases, in some cases determining--without sufficient evidence-- that drilling was not the cause of water or air pollution. The report concludes that, in almost 200 separate cases, there is evidence of official misconduct. This is a serious charge that demands further investigation.
"Pennsylvania has been through many of these boom-bust extraction cycles before—timbering, oil, coal—and Pennsylvanians have shouldered the cost of their legacies of environmental degradation and economically depressed communities,” said Diane Sipe of Marcellus Outreach Butler, a steering committee member of Pennsylvanians Against Fracking. “Attorney General Josh Shapiro needs to keep the faith with the people of Pennsylvania, and he can start with examining the misconduct of those in state government who have jettisoned their mission to protect the people and environment and who have instead unlawfully acted to enable the gas industry activity of the gas industry. Shapiro needs to investigate the misconduct of the DEP."
The DEP’s inability to protect citizens from fracking has been documented before. In 2014, Auditor General Eugene DePasquale issued a scathing report that called the DEP “woefully unprepared” to deal with drilling impacts.
As the coalition letter points out, “getting tough on frackers” was one of Shapiro’s campaign pledges.
“Attorney General Shapiro was elected on a promise that he would protect Pennsylvanians from the fracking industry,” said Sam Bernhardt, Senior Pennsylvania Organizer for Food & Water Watch, also a steering committee member of Pennsylvanians Against Fracking. “However, to protect Pennsylvanians from drilling, the Attorney General’s office must prioritize holding state environmental regulators accountable for their misconduct, malfeasance and negligence.”