Pennsylvania’s Auditor General doesn’t have an official report yet. But in an interview with the Scranton Times-Tribune’s editorial board this week, Eugene DePasquale suggested that there may be flaws with how the Department of Environmental Protection is handling water pollution issues related to natural gas drilling.
“The only thing I could say is, it’s a good thing we’re doing the audit,” he told the Times-Tribune without offering further details about the findings.
Eric Shirk, a spokesman for Gov. Tom Corbett, said the administration does not anticipate the finding of major problems and views the audit as an opportunity to showcase the progress made in protecting the environment from gas drilling pollution. He said the department doubled the number of inspections of oil and gas sites since last year.
“We’ve been taking our job very seriously … and we’re always looking for ways to improve,” Mr. Shirk said.
The highly anticipated audit, which will arrive just before the election campaign for governor heats up, is sure to draw a lot of attention from the Corbett administration, the gas industry, gas drilling opponents and the Democratic candidates for governor. Mr. Corbett is a Republican.
The full audit is expected in January 2014 and will be the fulfillment of one of DePasquale’s campaign promises. The former DEP employee and state representative has said that the audit is necessary to “make sure the department has all the appropriate resources they can to do their job to protect our water and our land.”
DePasquale also told the Pittsburgh Times-Tribune that he’s planning to audit how revenue from the impact fees charged to every operating Marcellus Shale well in Pennsylvania is being spent. StateImpact Pennsylvania has previously reported that local governments in some of the state’s busiest drilling counties failed to disclose how they spent impact fee funds because of confusion about how to file the necessary paperwork.