Pennsylvania

Energy. Environment. Economy.

DEP Cancels Meeting with Enviro’s Due to “Intemperate Message”

Susan Phillips / StateImpact Pennsylvania

A man helps deliver donations of clean water to residents of Butler County who say gas drilling polluted their water supply. DEP officials had told residents that nearby drilling was not the cause. So free water deliveries by the gas producer ended.

A spokesman for the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection says a decision to cancel a meeting with a coalition of environmental organizations over residential water tests was due to an “intemperate message” one group posted on the internet.

The meeting, initiated by Clean Water Action, was scheduled for January 24th, but organizers say DEP unexpectedly cancelled the meeting a day before, without explanation. The groups say they requested the sit-down with DEP staffers as a fact-finding mission to gain clarity over how DEP reports water quality results to residents concerned about the impact of natural gas drilling. Last November, StateImpact reported on testimony in a deposition of a DEP employee, which seemed to indicate that not all contaminants found in sampled water were reported to residents.

DEP denies that its protocols hide any important information from residents. In a letter to State Rep. Jesse White, Secretary Michael Krancer defended his department’s policy on water quality reports.

But the environmental groups say they’re not convinced that DEP is completely transparent, and have more questions for DEP staff. Iris Marie Bloom is with Protecting Our Waters, one of the groups that had scheduled to meet with DEP.

“It is clear that people who have impacted water have not gotten complete information about what’s in their water,” said Bloom. “What is not clear is what the rationales are, and what can be done to protect impacted residents. And how DEP’s policies can be changed in the direction of protecting public health.”

DEP says it cancelled the meeting due to a message posted on the website of the group Marcellus Protest, which had posted a meeting to plan a “take down” of Secretary Krancer. DEP spokesman Kevin Sunday calls the post “intemperate” and attributes it to the liaison for the coalition, Clean Water Action. Clean Water Action says their original post did not include the “take down” language.

CWA staffer Steve Hvozdovich says CWA has worked effectively with DEP through several administrations, both Republican and Democrat. But, he says, that does not mean the agency should expect the organization to refrain from criticizing policies it thinks would not protect the environment and public health.

“I didn’t see the NRA’s traditionally aggressive tone toward President Obama’s [gun control] policies prevent them from having a seat at the table,” said Hvozdovich.

Protecting Our Waters’ organizer Iris Marie Bloom says DEP should not engage in “collective punishment.”

“I can see where [Secretary Krancer's] feelings would be hurt by the language [of the post],” says Bloom. “But this is a very serious discussion we’re trying to have and [to cancel the meeting] is an inappropriate reaction.”

Bloom says by her count, hundreds of Pennsylvania residents have experienced water issues related to Marcellus Shale drilling.

DEP says they are willing to reschedule, as long as Clean Water Action is not at the table.

Comments

  • Mel Packer

    What a crock!! DEP has no desire to meet with folks unless Krancer has total control of meeting and message. That message about taking him down didn’t even come from Marcellus Protest (altho I’m sure Marcellus Protest supporters would agree that he has to go) but was on a notice of a meeting sponsored by CWA, to the credit to CWA and I applaud their language and intent. Krancer is simply a front man for the industry, cares not one bit about the people of PA, and will lie thru his teeth every waking minute if it improves the profits of the fracking industry.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1448796364 Facebook User

      Thank you, Mel.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Liz-Rosenbaum/100000486492990 Liz Rosenbaum

    DEP needs to come clean, and take the meeting.

  • Celia Janosik

    The present administration along with DEP and the gas industry manipulate words and people but never tell the truth about the dangers of hydraulic fracturing. Read the oil and gas prospectuses, there in lies the truth. Check out Halliburton cements and they state that varying concrete casings fail and that their concrete lasts a few years longer.

  • madashellinpa

    The DEP can run BUT they can’t hide. They WILL be held accountable.

  • Scott Alderfer

    I’m beginning to think that Krancer hates the environment more than Corbett does.

  • BobSchmetzer

    The PaDEP needs to read its Mission statement. It owes the public time to help to improve our living conditions. Not being able to face criticism shows weakness. If the agency had stronger representation , they would have been able to stand up to the CWA,s comments and corrected them if they were wrong. If CWA was correct, then the agency should accept it and work to correct the error. PaDEP is not the master, but the servant of society. PaDEP should thank Iris Bloom and all that love our state for taking their valuable time and efforts to help Pa grow and prosper with consideration to a healthy environment.

  • Keith Bentz

    It is State Government role to protect and defend its citizens. How can we know if we are safe without facts about where waters have been violated. Sec. Krancer is directly responceable to the People of Pennsylvania for information about affected water and what families are told is happening to their water resources.

  • http://www.facebook.com/bucks.sierrans Bucks Committe Sierrans

    Things do not make sense if the article states DEP says it cancelled the meeting due to a message posted on the website of the group Marcellus Protest why is it then stating that Clean Water Action isn’t allowed to attend.

    Sounds to me like Secretary Krancer’s skin is a little too thin!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Stephen-Cleghorn/1279100934 Stephen Cleghorn

    What a bunch of squalling juveniles at the Don’t Expect Protection department!

  • http://www.facebook.com/john.slesinger John Slesinger

    Perfect: Don’t Expect Protection. The new Pa Auditor General is to look into the DEP. They actually contacted me. I have a cementing log signed by a DEP field rep that shows faulty cementing of a well casing. The DEP hid this from me for two years while I was forced to haul water to my home. Lets hope the Auditor General follows thru. I believe that this corruption, especially in the southwest Pa district, extends from the field agent, thru the Southwest office including the legal staff and the director, right thru to Harrisburg and up to Krancer and the old director John Hanger. I have talked to many within the DEP and they all insisted there was no proof that a faulty casing caused my water contamination. I can only hope they get what they deserve.

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