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DEP Spokeswoman Blasted for Comments About Marcellus Shale-Related Hearing

'It would appear from your comments as DEP spokesperson that you perceive transparency as political theater, which is quite unfortunately for the citizens of the Commonwealth that you are charged to serve,” the Democrat wrote.

Editor's Note: This story was updated at 4:05 a.m. to include response from the DEP.

The chairman of the state’s Democratic Policy committee on Thursday struck back against a state Department of Environmental Protection spokeswoman who told a newspaper that Secretary Michael Krancer would not participate in a local meeting, likening it to “political theater.”

“I thought on a subject like clean water, where hopefully, the Policy Committee and DEP have a common purpose, that the DEP would welcome the opportunity to let the public and Legislature know what is currently being done to protect Pennsylvanians, Chairman P. Michael Sturla wrote in a letter to DEP spokeswoman Katherine Gresh and dated Thursday that was obtained by Canon-McMillan Patch. “However, it would appear from your comments as DEP spokesperson that you perceive transparency as political theater, which is quite unfortunately for the citizens of the Commonwealth that you are charged to serve.”

Gresh’s comments were sparked by a press release issued by state Rep. Jesse White, D-Cecil, on Thursday in which he criticized Krancer’s decision not to attend a policy committee hearing that involves environmental testing near Marcellus Shale drilling sites.

The hearing will be held in Washington on Tuesday.

Emailed for comment, Gresh declined.

In his letter, Sturla also noted that Krancer had twice before attended hearings—and that both times the subject involved Marcellus Shale.

Amanda Gillooly February 14, 2013 at 07:28 PM
(Thank you!! See what happens when you hurry!?! Have a great day!!)
vera scroggins February 15, 2013 at 11:21 AM
thank, Rep. White and Sturla for standing for our rights as citizens of PA. ; having the right to clean water and air and transparency in our government and regulatory agencies. We need to press for proper, full testing and revealing what is happening to us as the Gas Industry takes over the State of Pa. and leaves a legacy of contamination and ruination of our precious water and air .
Dan Surrapp February 15, 2013 at 12:12 PM
"clean water would be a subject that DEP and Policy Committee would have common ground". It is becoming very evident that Corbett administration cares little a out our environment and all about corporate profits.
Winter Arrives February 15, 2013 at 03:29 PM
How did the Dept. of Environmental Protection get its name? It's misleading , it's obvious that their primary job is to approve gas permits, and gas production is anything but environmentally friendly!
Mike Knapp February 15, 2013 at 05:30 PM
Rep White spits unabashed vitriol towards the DEP on a near constant basis. I don't blame DEP one minute for declining to participate in this public inquisition to "ask questions" that he has already received an answer to from Mr. Krancer himself. As far as Sturla, after hearing him make comments like the one below, the whole Commonwealth must be befuddled as to why he hasn't been plucked from the legislature to head up MENSA: "exactly what are all those things the drillers are doing for the local communities? Patronizing the bars at night? Driving up the cost of rental housing? Spreading sexually transmitted disease amongst the womenfolk?" Making ridiculous statements and accusations will get your name in the national headlines but it doesn't do much to create an environment where you can work with others here in Pennsylvania. At this point, one HAS to wonder which is more important, getting their names in the New York Times or representing their constituents.
Amanda Gillooly February 15, 2013 at 06:47 PM
Mr. Knapp - what is the source of that quote? I'd like to include the link so we are all on the same page. Thank you!
Mike Knapp February 15, 2013 at 07:16 PM
Here's one, but if you google "Sturla" and "STD" you'll get pages of results. http://stateimpact.npr.org/pennsylvania/2011/08/17/sturla-stands-by-std-comment/
Mike Knapp February 15, 2013 at 07:53 PM
This has nothing to do with transparency. Rep White brought this issue up to Secretary Krancer, and the Secretary responded to him and answered/addressed his questions/assertions. But I've got to admit, it's nice to see that you've turned over a new leaf and are now pressing for proper regulation and enforcement of the gas industry, rather than promoting an outright ban.
Amanda Gillooly February 15, 2013 at 08:07 PM
Thank you!
Margaret Motheral February 15, 2013 at 10:56 PM
My experience with PADEP in Philadelphia is dishonesty & blatant failure of transparency. I have a huge paper trail, witnesses & violations, photos & doctor reports about contaminated site in Mt Airy area & yet PADEP has always refused to release environmental reports & has blatantly committed crimes resulting in severe harm to my health & home. PADEP colluded with corrupt Philadelphia political system, allowed a residential development to be built on improperly handled & historically contaminated site with a creek where chemicals were dumped. Within years , a death was caused by downstream flooding that was shown to be caused by building over this creek area, historically famous for flooding. Immediate neighbor still displaced from home after 7 yrs from extreme threats of whistleblower retaliation & toxic illness. No information was ever given to neighbors who lived with years of toxic dust and dust full of probable asbestos & silica from demolition of brick coal bins & cement. It was a rail and coal yard for years, normally a red flag for brownfield conditions & then a construction company with vats of acid & daily dumping of oil waste directly into the soil & creek area. I called DEP's & EPA's all over the country & described the conditions. All of them said it should never be built residential. Recently a letter surfaced from senior city planner admitting foul play. PADEP united with corrupt Philly politics in nearly killing a woman just to hide crimes
Cindy McPherson February 15, 2013 at 11:01 PM
Ahhh, Mr. Knapp has poked his head out of the ground- must be six more weeks of propaganda. I have to ask how this double standard works. So Rep. White asks questions no one else has the guts to ask (Solobay, Neuman, Daley, Snyder, Saccone etc.) and is subjected to ad hominem attacks by both DEP and the propaganda wing of the Shale Industry. He fights back to defend himself and based on that, White is the unreasonable one? How come it doesn't work both ways- why should White be expected to work with any of these people if they don't respect him by simply answering his questions? Notice that all of this is designed to make it about White's character instead of what he's actually saying. This guy has put up with unprecedented political abuse and is still fighting for what he believes, even though none of his local colleagues have the guts to stand with him.
Mike Knapp February 15, 2013 at 11:16 PM
They did respect him by simply answering his questions Cindy. Even though the questions were asked in an accusatory, hyperbolic way. That's kinda/sorta my point. Even if White is being treated as poorly as he claims, why can't he set an example and take the high road? Reducing the conversation to bitter squabbling and nasty rhetoric does what exactly? Don't we have enough of that in Washington DC? I've always said that I could be a big fan of Rep White. Any politician that invokes internet memes and has the sense of humor that he does is right up my alley. I bet if we sat down and had a beer and agreed to not speak a word about Marcellus, we'd have a great time. But this political grandstanding has GOT TO STOP. It's hurting Pennsylvania. It's hurting his constituents. Enough is enough already! But you're right, I've kept my mouth shut for a while now. I've been guilty of engaging in the same type of back and forth, but I realized it's pointless. It just digs the hole deeper. I don't want to be a part of that anymore. Except maybe for Mike Sturla, who I really, really don't think much of given the comments he's made, which go so far across the line, it's frightening. Passing around STD's to the "womenfolk"? Ugh.
Jesse White February 15, 2013 at 11:43 PM
Mr. Knapp, I'm not going to engage you in a whole big debate but I will say this. First, the DEP did NOT answer my questions. Second, I DID take the high road by sticking to the facts. Proof of both can be found here, which contains the text of a letter I wrote to Secretary Krancer asking ten simple questions that have been completely ignored for two months now. I specifically discuss how I want to take the high road by sticking to the facts. Please review and tell me which of these ten questions we do not deserve direct answers to, and explain why. Thank you. http://canon-mcmillan.patch.com/articles/ten-questions-for-the-dep-the-public-deserves-answered
Mike Knapp February 16, 2013 at 12:06 AM
That's fine Rep White. I'm not looking for a "whole big debate". You do from time to time make some valid points, and raise some valid questions. I've pointed them out, and backed you on them. The point I'm trying to convey is that those valid points get drowned out by all of the seemingly...well....crazy accusations you're constantly making. Like, oh, accusing the DEP and the gas industry of colluding to hide gas drilling contamination in the New York Times. Asking questions is one thing. Making pointed accusations is another. It's usual to ask the questions first, and THEN make the accusations. It seems as though you've chosen to reverse the order on this specific issue.
cecil resident February 16, 2013 at 12:33 AM
I will have eyes and ears at the meeting. The way that Rep. Sturla talks wouldn't want him to stand up for me. A politician can either be a uniter or a divider in a community
Margaret Motheral February 16, 2013 at 07:06 AM
I'm not sure if Mr Kapp is related to Christine Knapp who had held highly political positions in Philadelphia environmental organization but there is no place for politics when it comes to human life. Christine Knapp (once of Penn Environment) and Debra Fries of PADEP have both critical injured human life through their positions which choose politics before human life. If these organizations could really grasp that they are taking money to harm and seriously destroy lives for the sake of politics.
Margaret Motheral February 16, 2013 at 08:38 PM
Mike Knapp, nothing but death and destruction of water. soil, the eco system and people will come of fracking. We need to invest resources in clean sustainable energy and infrastructure. Zero long term good and huge human and natural devastation and death are the only results. Short term greed and political game is killing the planet. There is absolutely zero reason for this ruinous technology when so much clean and life sustainable solutions have been available for so long. These are crimes on the level of genocide and war crimes and in time justice for those who perpetuated these crimes will prosecuted as murder.
Roger February 16, 2013 at 10:01 PM
Margaret, what difference does a relationship, or no relationship, make on Mr. Knapp's comments?
Roger February 16, 2013 at 10:02 PM
Quoting: " ... will come of fracking..." Why this tense?
Zandy Dudiak February 17, 2013 at 12:41 AM
Two comments were removed for containing veiled vulgar language, which violates our terms of use.
Roger February 20, 2013 at 01:03 AM
Margaret, still waiting for your answer. Thanks.
Roger February 20, 2013 at 01:03 AM
Margaret, why the tense of your statement. Thanks.
Margaret Motheral February 20, 2013 at 01:10 AM
Sorry, just saw, you were asking questions. "Tense" I refer to future destruction of eco system and illness of both current and future fracking. Pennsylvania is known from rampant cronyism, especially in Philadelphia. That is why I questions the similarity of both names and associations with environmental agencies.
Roger February 20, 2013 at 07:38 PM
Margaret, your future tense would have been applicable in 2009, but not in 2013. http://www.bizjournals.com/pittsburgh/blog/energy/2013/02/marcellus-production-rises-again-see.html? Thank you for confirming that the references between the two people had nothing to do with anything.
Joseph Massaro February 21, 2013 at 05:51 PM
Are you really comparing the process of hydraulic fracturing to genocide? We are investing in renewable resources but this shift cannot occur without the use of fossil fuels. http://climatedesk.org/2013/01/charts-renewables-in-bed-with-natural-gas/

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