New information from investigators at Public Herald shows Department of Environmental Protection has systematically handled fracking-related complaints with misconduct.
Investigators fought with DEP for three years to obtain information on fracking-related complaints. What they uncovered is jarring. DEP has received over 9,400 complaints related to gas and oil impact. Within this data, the Public Herald alleges to have identified at least 177 water contamination investigations wherein DEP committed one or more of three types of official misconduct: malfeasance, misfeasance, and negligence.
Pursuing this potential criminal activity is the responsibility of the Office of the Attorney General.
Fracking-related misconduct by the DEP is only part of the problem. Since 2000, the DEP has been systematically defunded by the state of Pennsylvania, even as fracking has exploded in the state. This report by Clean Water Action shows that state support for environmental protection dropped from $340,000,000 (actual) in 2000-2001 to approximately $160,000,000 (budgeted) in 2009-2010. Actual spending in 2009-2010 was even lower at $155,950,000, which is 46% of what it was midway through the Ridge Administration, before adjusting for inflation.
DEP funding has continued to drop since 2009-2010, especially under former Governor Corbett. The following figures are taken from the Governor’s Executive Budget for each year:
- 2010-2011: $143,692,000 (actual)
- 2011-2012: $134,236,000 (actual)
- 2012-2013: $126,814,000 (actual)
- 2013-2014: $127,931,000 (actual)
- 2014-2015: $141,488,000 (actual)
- 2015-2016: $148,824,000 (available)
- 2016-2017: $156,248,000 (budgeted)
Note that these figures have not been adjusted for inflation. Also note that in 2014 former Governor Corbett used the line item veto to eliminate a legislative earmark for a study on the effects of natural gas drilling (2014-2015 Budget Fact Sheet).
“The mission of the Department of Environmental Protection is to protect Pennsylvania’s air, land and water from pollution and to provide for the health and safety of its citizens through a cleaner environment. The department will work as partners with individuals, organizations, governments and businesses to prevent pollution and restore our natural resources.” (Governor’s Executive Budget)
The PA DEP is clearly failing its mission in regards to fracking in the state. Citizen pressure is needed to push the DEP to properly regulate fracking and to see that it has the funding required to perform its mission. Please sign the petition today.