Energy. Environment. Economy.

Protesters Criticize DEP’s Oversight of Gas Industry

Marie Cusick/StateImpact Pennsylvania

Protesters hold up hundreds of letters from concerned citizens outside the DEP headquarters in Harrisburg.

A small group of protesters gathered outside the Harrisburg headquarters of the state Department of Environmental Protection today. They say the agency is failing to protect the public from the risks associated with natural gas development.

About 50 people turned out for the protest, which was organized by several environmental groups, including the Sierra Club Pennsylvania Chapter, Clean Water Action, and the Delaware Riverkeeper Network. They also delivered hundreds of letters from concerned residents around the state to the agency.

One of their main concerns relates to the way the agency conducts water testing related to gas drilling. The protesters pointed to testimony from a DEP employee who said that although the agency’s laboratory tests for a full range of heavy metals, the lab does not report all of the test results to residents.

DEP officials say reporting those results to residents would be irresponsible because they have not been verified.

“[The DEP] not only wants to withhold data from our water wells,” says Susquehanna County resident Rebecca Roter, “They want to marginalize our voices and not document what is happening to our water and our air.”

The group also criticized outgoing DEP Secretary Michael Krancer, who will step down from the agency next week to work on behalf of energy companies at a Philadelphia law firm.

“I don’t think there is a revolving door,” says Sullivan County resident John Trallo. “I don’t think there is a door anymore. It’s just one big good old boys club. This has to stop.”

There was a brief standoff between the protesters and security officers inside the DEP office building.

The agency initially did not send a representative to physically receive the letters, so the protesters sat down inside the lobby of the building and refused to leave. After about 15 minutes, a staffer from the mail room showed up and took the letters.

DEP spokesman Kevin Sunday responded in an email to StateImpact Pennsylvania:

We had invited in and offered to meet with these groups before to have a civil, reasoned discussion, but they have refused and indicated they were not interested in such a dialogue. Clean Water Action made it clear they wanted to “take down” Secretary Krancer, not have questions answered. We will address their questions and concerns in the near future.

Sunday is referring to a meeting originally scheduled for January 24th between the DEP and environmental groups. The agency cancelled the meeting shortly before it was supposed to happen, citing a message posted on the website of the group Marcellus Shale Protest, which stated the meeting would be a “takedown” of Krancer. Clean Water Action says their original post did not include the “takedown” language.



  • john slesinger

    DEP corruption will continue to grow as long as the DEP employees can get away with it. What is really sad is that only a few care or even bother to try to do anything. No one even tries to help those affected by drilling and dep lies. DEP has no accountability to anyone. They can hide evidence, make false statements, and fail to conduct investigations properly. I still hold hope that someone will expose the corruption in our government.

  • Facebook User

    People all over Pennsylvania’s Shale Gas
    region have lost use of their property’s well water because of the
    effects of Natural Gas Drilling. We have asked Pennsylvania’s DEP to
    tell us the extent of the problem. But the DEP says that they don’t
    even keep track of that. Families have asked the DEP to provide them
    with the results of the DEP testing of their home water. But it has
    been revealed that the families are not given the complete results of
    those tests.

    Many, many homes have or need replacement water
    because their water has been ruined. But the DEP does not even pretend
    to care.

    • Facebook User

      I am Nathan Sooy from CLEAN WATER ACTION in Harrisburg.

  • John Trallo

    The rampant political corruption in PA is beyond denial. The DEP has been complacent in abusing the constitutional rights of people, the environment, and the health, safety, and welfare of our children, and our children’s children. This can no longer be tolerated. The Corbett administration has made it crystal clear that they are “partnered with the oil and gas industry” and will never hold them accountable because it’s not in their interest to regulate or control their “partner”. We are on our own here, people, and we must be prepared to fight back and defend ourselves against this industrial invasion of our way of life. If we don’t… no one else will. We need to go beyond our individual issues and stand in solidarity with each other as one unified voice. This is NOT a partisan issue, or an energy issue. It’s a human rights, public health and safety issue. ~ In Solidarity!

  • Facebook User

    It has been months since the “take down” comment was made. Who is this PRIMA DONA that gets so offended by mere words that he cannot get beyond them to do the business of the people of Pennsylvania?

    I guess this PRIMA DONA’s name is Michael Krancer.

  • Lisa DeSantis

    With States like New York and California wanting the “SCIENCE” before drilling, it only makes sense, that we all do. Seems like the Cart came before the Mule in Pennsylvania. BAN FRACKING NOW until the Science catches up with the Technology.

    • RobertColgan

      Agreed, Lisa.
      There was NEVER an Environmental Impact Study done for PA.
      The drilling started, grew, continues to grow——but it is claimed that the only way an EIS could have been/could be done is if the legislators pass resolution to do it …and they are, most of them, gasaholics who don’t want to cut their re-election revenue stream and who also don’t really give a shit about the environment.

  • RobertColgan

    I attended this rally.
    I wore a sign which said “WHAT ISN’T CLEAR?” over top of the PA Constitutional mandate Section 27:
    “The people have a right to clean air, pure water, and to the preservation of the natural, scenic, historic and esthetic values of the environment. PA’s public natural resources are the COMMON PROPERTY of all the people including generations yet to come. As trustee of these resources, the Commonwealth shall conserve and maintain them for the benefit of all the people”
    ……..a mandate increasingly defied and defiled by the DEP and DCNR.

    There is inherent risk associated with fracking. Over time the risk increases.
    As the number of wells increases, the risk increases exponentially.
    We probably are fouling PA’s waters for centuries with this dangerous practice.
    Once the aquifers are compromised, the health of all Pennsylvanians is compromised, as is the health currently of many of those whose stories were read at the rally.

    Very sad.
    Man fouls his nest, and then expresses shock that the nest is no longer habitable.

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