DEP Boss Addresses Call for Investigation, Lawmaker Responds

Read the letter Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Michael Krancer sent to state Rep. Jesse White over a press release the lawmaker sent out last week regarding water testing reports.

Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Michael Krancer on Thursday released a statement addressed to an area lawmaker who last week called for an investigation into the government agency over the reporting methods involved with water testing near Marcellus Shale drilling areas—saying it appeared the legislator “misapprehended some important facts.”

State Rep. Jesse White, D-Cecil, said the DEP was withholding results for 16 of the 24 heavy metals tested for in groundwater samples near drilling sites—and called on state and federal authorities to launch an investigation into department practices.

In the two-page letter to White, Krancer said, among other things, that a statement the lawmaker released to the media last week contained information about DEP employees’ comments in depositions regarding reporting methods for tests completed on water samples collected near Marcellus Shale drilling sites.

He ended the letter by writing:

“Our staff are professional and know what to look for to protect the citizens of Pennsylvania and hold operators responsible when drilling activities have impacted water supplies,” the letter stated. “Our record demonstrates that and to state otherwise is simply false.”

Reached for comment on the letter Thursday afternoon, White said, “As much as I’d like to accept Mr. Krancer’s claims about training to be accurate, the sworn testimony of DEP’s own specialists clearly shows that is not the case.”

He continued: “In the deposition, DEP water quality specialist John Carson admitted under oath that he had received no specialized training on dealing with Marcellus Shale, admitted that he wouldn’t know what to look for to know if groundwater was contaminated or not and that the only thing you need to be a DEP water quality specialist is a driver’s license.”

White said he stands by his letter—and the information in it.

“Unfortunately, Secretary Krancer’s position is directly contradicted by the sworn testimony of his own employees,” he said. “Either way, all this does is reinforce the necessity of an independent outside investigation to find out what’s really going on inside DEP. There is just no excuse for withholding information that is important from the public."

To read Krancer's full letter, click on the attached PDF.

To read the Carson deposition White refers to, click here.




Mike Knapp November 06, 2012 at 10:56 PM
Rep White seems to fancy himself something of a water quality expert. Check out his statement to the New York Times: "State Representative Jesse J. White, a Democrat who represents part of Washington County, accused the Environmental Protection Department of manipulating water tests to hide what he called “adverse results” from gas-drilling operations. " When pressed to produce evidence supporting the ridiculous accusation that the DEP is actively involved in a cover up of drilling contamination, Rep White turned to silencing his critics by banning them (myself included) from his Facebook page. Though it's nice to see that Rep White seems to have abandoned his initial baseless accusations, an apology is order. Instead, he's offering up more statements designed to instill an undue fear in Pennsylvania residents. Wrongly destroying the peace of mind of the good people of our commonwealth is not the right way to score political points. For shame.
Jesse White November 06, 2012 at 11:37 PM
For the record, I banned Mr. Knapp from my Facebook page because after days of allowing him to spin nonstop, he crossed the line into trolling and it needed to stop. But enough about him; let's get to what's important: The DEP released this letter to the media, not me, even though it was addressed to me. But it actually reinforces my position in the following ways: 1. The claims about DEP's training are suspect; in the sworn deposition of DEP water quality specialist John Carson, he admitted he had no specialized training for Marcellus Shale impacts, had no idea what to look for to know if groundwater was impacted from drilling, and confirmed the only requirement to be a DEP water specialist is a driver's license. All his words, not mine. 2. Despite the inference that DEP hasn't used Suite Code 942 since 2010, they used it as recently as 2011 and 2012 to test the water in the Kiskadden case, which is verifiable through court records. Again, DEP's words/records, not mine. 3. I agree there is a firewall between DEP labs and DEP field agents; in fact, it's the crux of the whole problem. Although DEP's lab tests for all 24 heavy metals under EPA Standard 200.7, by writing in Suite Code 942, the results of 16 of those 24 never make it from the lab to the field. And Suite Code 946 isn't much better; it withholds 13 of the 24 heavy metals.
Jesse White November 06, 2012 at 11:38 PM
4. Reports issued by the Marcellus Shale Coalition in 2009 list many of the unreported metals as components of flowback and produced water from drilling. There are not maximum concentrations for many of them because they aren't supposed to be in groundwater at any acceptable level. He may as well have said there isn't a maximum concentration for Grape Kool-Aid listed. 5. Silica is sand, which can exist naturally, but it's also a known component in the drilling process. By withholding data on the other components in drilling by using Suite Code 942, the DEP field agent would have no way of knowing whether those metals existed in a combination that would suggest whether the silica was natural or related to drilling. It gives the DEP plausible deniability to say they can't prove impact from drilling- sort of like putting a blindfold on someone and saying "I can't say for certain you are wearing a blue shirt" without acknowledging the presence of the blindfold. All of this reinforces my central point; the DEP is choosing to ignore their own valuable test results for metals which are hazardous and have a clear connection to drilling activities. The lack of a viable explanation, coupled with sworn testimony which directly refutes claims about inspector training, only strengthens my belief that an independent investigation into DEP needs to take place. Jesse White State Representative, 46th District
Debbie Ziegler Lambert November 06, 2012 at 11:48 PM
Mike Knapp has a lot of nerve stating such things about State Rep. White. He has done nothing but slander Mr. White over and over again. He's obsessed with him. He blocked several people, including myself from his comments. Guess he got tired of being reminded to tell the truth. If anyone is owed an apology, it's the people of PA, for being denied the truth about the contaminants in their water.
Jason Parks November 07, 2012 at 12:18 AM
The headline is misleading. Using the word lawmaker impliess White does something. Anyone remember the old channel 22 and the guy with the captian's hat? He used to ring the bell and say "it's three bells. You know what that means? Time for Mighty Mouse!". Well, ding ding, it's Tuesday. Know what that means? It's Conspiracy Day! Once again, he have a state employee, taking state money and signed up for a taxpayer-funded pension, throwing atround wild accusations. I was at the meeting, Jesse. You seemed nervous. If you're so right with your little crusade you shouldn't be worried about a thing. I don't know why I keep writing. You don't really matter much. Happy election day.
Me November 07, 2012 at 08:00 AM
No one ran against Mr White. I only seen 2 signs in Cecil. Yes he works hard ; I think he works for the Canon McMillian Patch
Liz Rosenbaum November 07, 2012 at 03:14 PM
DEP still needs to release the full test results! what are they hiding?


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