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DEP Tussles with Environmentalists Over Marcellus Air Emissions

Scott Detrow / StateImpact Pennsylvania

DEP Secretary Michael Krancer

Back in October, the environmental group Clean Air Council told the EPA that the state Department of Environmental Protection was not doing its job of informing the public about potential air pollution related to natural gas production. Environmentalists worry about emissions from compressor stations, which help move gas through interstate pipelines. Those emissions can include volatile organic compounds and carbon monoxide. More and more companies are seeking approval for new compressor stations as the shale boom in Pennsylvania continues. The Clean Air Council filed a petition with the EPA, saying that DEP not only failed to meet the minimum federal requirements to inform the public about emissions, but also, the state regulators failed to get federal approval of an overall plan for these sites as required by the Clean Air Act.
Secretary Michael Krancer responded to the petition this week with a scathing letter to EPA director Lisa Jackson. In it, he says the petition “lacks merit,” and is a waste of time.

“DEP and EPA should not be unnecessarily distracted by this contrived and irrational petition from the important and serious work our agencies perform,” Krancer said. “Perhaps Clean Air Council’s time would have been better served by suing EPA for … failing to perform one of its basic functions in a timely manner, rather than submitting this frivolous petition against Pennsylvania.”

Krancer says he’s still waiting for EPA approval on a plan DEP submitted back in 2009. On the same day DEP sent the letter to Jackson, they also scheduled a public hearing on a new compressor station in Sullivan County.
Clean Air Council’s executive director Joe Minott praised the hearing, but when it comes to releasing information, he says it’s a no-brainer.
“This is not a fight we should be having,” said Minott. The information is out there. DEP should provide it to the public. I’m surprised by what I think is an overreaction.”
DEP says they scheduled the hearing on the proposed Central New York Oil and Gas compressor station in Davidson Township because “a significant number of citizens” asked for it.

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