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Top 10 stories of 2013: DEP tries to suppress study, Chesapeake layoffs hit home

As we continue our 2013 top ten countdown, today’s stories feature Chesapeake Energy’s massive layoffs and the controversy surround an attempt by the DEP’s Policy Office to suppress a peer-reviewed scientific paper.

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Marie Cusick/ StateImpact Pennsylvania

6. Chesapeake Energy layoffs hit Bradford County

In August, Chesapeake Energy’s corporate restructuring lead to layoffs in the company’s busiest hub of its Pennsylvania operations– Bradford County. The company let go of its landowner and community relations staff.

When its corporate restructuring ended in October 2013, Chesapeake had laid off about 10 percent of its workforce.

Bradford County Commissioner, Doug McLinko said the timing was particularly frustrating as the community deals with widespread allegations of underpaid gas royalties.

“They got rid of the whole department, which is alarming to me because that’s the face of Chesapeake Energy to the community,” he says.

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Lindsay Lazarski/WHYY

5. DEP attempted to suppress controversial study that criticized shale gas

In August, StateImpact Pennsylvania uncovered internal DEP emails, which revealed an attempt by its Policy Office to suppress controversial research that questions the benefits of natural gas.

The peer-reviewed paper, by professor Robert Howarth of Cornell University, has been the subject of intense debate. It concludes that from a climate change perspective, natural gas is dirtier than coal. It was mentioned in a DEP report about how climate change will impact the state.

Howarth’s work has has been criticized by the oil and gas industry and challenged by other scientists including his colleagues at Cornell.

The DEP policy specialist who asked for the study to be removed said she did so because she didn’t want “anything controversial” in the agency’s climate change report.

The reference to the paper stayed in the final version of the climate report.

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