The state’s natural gas industry has scored some key victories from its allies in Harrisburg.
Now comes word that the secretary of the state’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) will make all final decisions when it comes to issuing violations in the field.
A department spokeswoman told several news publications, including ProPublica and the Patriot News, that the policy is a result of trying to bring about consistency on regulating gas drilling activity within the different areas of the state.
The spokeswoman, Katy Gresh, said the new policy is in no way political and that it comes from concerns that companies have been subject to different regulations and enforcement actions depending on the area where they’re drilling for gas.
An internal DEP e-mail states any actions or notices of violation must get the approval of the department’s deputy secretaries and get final clearance from DEP Secretary Mike Krancer.
Although the department says the new policy is not political and does not come from Gov. Tom Corbett’s office, former DEP Secretary John Hanger told ProPublica on March 27 that the new policy is too big of a change to not have gotten some approval from the governor’s office.
Whatever the reason, it’s safe to say it will take longer for potential violations, however big or small, to be levied at a gas company, even if it is clear that a violation has occurred.
You also have to wonder how a DEP field inspector will be able to do his or her job, now that they have to jump through even more bureaucratic hurdles to get anything accomplished.