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Lawmaker Criticizes DEP Refusal to Participate in Policy Hearing on Environmental Testing

He said that DEP Secretary Michael Krancer will not participate in an upcoming public hearing.

State Rep. Jesse White said that if he was Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Michael Krancer, he wouldn't be able to look the people of Pennsylvania in the eye.

White, D-Cecil, will host a policy committee hearing on the state Department of Environmental Protection’s response to environmental testing in Marcellus Shale regions from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Feb. 19 in the public meeting room of Washington Courthouse Square, 100 West Beau St., Washington, PA 15301.

The event is open to the public, and Pennsylvania Cable News channel will record the hearing for future broadcast.

The hearing will examine the DEP’s policies and procedures related to air- and water-quality testing near Marcellus Shale gas drilling sites in Pennsylvania, and will include discussion on White’s new proposed legislation, House Bill 268, which would require DEP to make available the full results, data and documentation of the testing.

Scheduled to testify are several Pennsylvania residents who have been critical of DEP’s handling of issues on their properties, and a coalition of environmental organizations, including Earthworks and PennFuture.

But White noted that the DEP declined an invitation to participate in the hearing.

“Secretary Krancer has again confirmed he has zero respect for the very real concerns of our residents,” White said. “I was disappointed but not surprised DEP declined to be part of this discussion."

White also stressed that the hearing will not be a debate about natural gas drilling, but rather an examination of whether DEP is operating in a transparent and responsible manner in dealing with environmental concerns from Marcellus Shale drilling.  

“Based on the DEP’s recent history, I think we have a lot to discuss about the way the Department is handling Marcellus Shale operations,” White said. “Residents are simply asking DEP to do its job, and to make sure that they are accountable and responsive whenever problems arise. If DEP is truly doing everything as well as they claim, you would think they would welcome the opportunity to prove it in a public forum; their refusal to do so really says quite a bit about the DEP’s lack of commitment to transparency and public accountability.”

The House Democratic Policy Committee, chaired by state Rep. Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster, hosts public hearings across the state to help judge the impact that state policies and legislation have at regional levels. The hearings provide lawmakers with public input on the House Democratic Caucus’ policy initiatives.

An email sent to DEP Director of Communications Katherine Gresh seeking comment Wednesday morning was not immediately returned.

cecil resident February 14, 2013 at 03:36 AM
Thanks Amanda I can always count on an answer from you if not from Rep. White
Amanda Gillooly February 14, 2013 at 04:19 AM
Anytime! If I find out that I was inaccurate, I will gladly let you know!! Have a great evening!
Jesse White February 14, 2013 at 04:22 AM
The Policy Committee runs the meeting, not me, so I'm not sure if there is a set public comment period or not; this is not the kind of meeting like a municipal meeting which is subject to the Sunshine Law. But as I said previously, I have reached out to the public seeking anyone interested in testifying, and we've had responses from all over the state. I'm not vetting their testimony in advance, so it's totally possible that someone could come in and testify as to how great DEP has been in their approach to environmental testing.
cecil resident February 14, 2013 at 04:30 AM
Thank you Rep white since you are the Host I just tought you would know how it is run. Guess I will have to just wait and see who shows up and how it get reported and who gets to testify wouldn't think the whole state is uninformed apologists.
Prouder American February 14, 2013 at 04:37 AM
Well the interpretation of this is already pretty obvious. Rep. White asks DEP to come and testify. DEP refuses, but somehow it's White's fault? Give me a break. If Jesse White said bananas were yellow, there would be a group of dedicated malcontents who would be on here screaming about it. We get it- you don't like White because he speaks his mind. But the guy is clearly passionate and well-informed on the things he talks about, so why don't you back off and let him do his job for once?
Amanda Gillooly February 14, 2013 at 04:43 AM
Rep. White - thanks for the info! That's what I thought.
Amanda Gillooly February 14, 2013 at 04:45 AM
Also, Proud: Unless there is breaking news, I was planning to attend and report on it. Just wanted to let you know!
cecil resident February 14, 2013 at 04:55 AM
great might be able to get people their also thank you Amanda
cecil resident February 14, 2013 at 05:05 AM
Never once have I stated I dislike Rep. White and never said it was Jesse's fault that the DEP choose not to attend. Just because we don't see eye to eye on subjects doesn't mean I dislike him and politicians should be use to the people they represent not agreeing with everything they say.. I disagree with you Prouder American and I don't dislike you. Jesse is passionate about his belief and so am I and would never dream to tell him to back off. Just becuase I ask question of the person who represents my district doesn't stop Rep. White from doing his job I hope.
Amanda Gillooly February 14, 2013 at 05:23 AM
You are most welcome! Also: Unfortunately, the DEP did not return my email for comment. If they happen to get back to me, I will certainly update the story! As background information, I have asked Rep. White if he would provide the letter he sent to DEP asking them to participate. It will likely be posted tomorrow. Just an FYI!
cecil resident February 14, 2013 at 04:34 PM
That would be great Amanda also the OR reported this morning an article concerning this discussion was in the papers. Would post the link but unable to get into their site must be having some issues,will post the link when I can. To be fair to all of the people he represents would you also ask him to post the two letters he received from the DEP in November explaining the testing as stated by Katy Gresh (director of communications office for the DEP) in the OR.
Amanda Gillooly February 14, 2013 at 04:41 PM
I'm having the same problem - glad I am not the only one. I read the story last night. For the record, I emailed the same spokeswoman and my query went unanswered. I just wanted to assure you that I tried to get comment from the department. As for Rep. White, will try to get in touch with him for that information.
cecil resident February 14, 2013 at 06:17 PM
thank you Amanda
Jesse White February 14, 2013 at 08:24 PM
The letters sent to me by the DEP fail to address the most basic fundamental concerns I have raised, and they totally fail to even acknowledge Suite Code 944, which is the Marcellus Shale-specific code designed by the DEP but never used once. Again, if DEP really believed they were doing their job, you would think they would show up to prove it.
cecil resident February 14, 2013 at 09:08 PM
Ok Rep.White I understand everything you say but what is the harm showing all of the people you represent the letters from the DEP it will either help them or hurt them. If you are doing your job as a representative for all the people show all three letters and let people them make up there own minds.
cecil resident February 15, 2013 at 01:12 AM
here's the link to the OR article http://www.observer-reporter.com/article/20130213/NEWS01/130219712/0/SEARCH
Jesse White February 15, 2013 at 02:09 AM
Janice, aka proud american, I uploaded the letter I sent to DEP to this article; it can also be seen at http://www.scribd.com/doc/125570755/Rep-Jesse-White-letter-to-PA-DEP-Sec-Krancer. Please tell me what about the letter was in any way professional.
cecil resident February 15, 2013 at 02:49 AM
Jesse aka Rep. White where have I ever said the letter you sent was not professional? I saw it for the first time and it was a very respectful letter. Now can you please post the other two letters that were mention in the OR article today that is all I ask as one of the people you represent.
Jesse White February 15, 2013 at 03:21 AM
Janice, the DEP spokeswoman said it wasn't professional, which is why I posted it. I don't have the two letters from the DEP with me, but they don't answer any of the questions I posed and were written before Suite Code 944 was ever disclosed. But what does it really matter? The DEP isn't showing up, which is their poor decision. I sent out multiple calls for people interested in testifying to contact me, and many did, none of whom had any praise for the way DEP operates. I dare you to come to the hearing and listen to the people who have been misled and ignored by DEP; I wonder if you'll still be so comfortable spewing your industry-provided talking points then. Will you show up, or will you close your eyes to reality like the DEP? Guess we'll find out on Tuesday.
Roger February 15, 2013 at 03:35 AM
Just to clarify, this planned meeting is a political entity, the Democratic Policy Committee, right? This is not a legislative body, rather a segment of the Democratic political party. In itself, it holds no power or authority, rather a caucus that chooses to make decisions as a body, or at least promote a decision. Nothing emerges from this body that is binding. I realize they meet at different locations, hold hearings, and attempt to develop policy. But, as a unit, there is no authority granted to the Committee. Am I right about this, or do I not understand correctly?
cecil resident February 15, 2013 at 03:57 AM
copied from the OR Katy Gresh, director of DEP’s communications office, noted Krancer is willing to attend meetings if they are productive and professional. She didn't say your letter wasn't professional unless you was reading something I wasn't. I want to clear it up once and for all I do my own research nobody tells me what to say and how to think no person or industry. Correct me if I'm wrong but everyone coming to this hearings dislikes the DEP and you couldn't find one person in your district that likes them, we must not talk to the same residents and I did say residents.
Jesse White February 15, 2013 at 10:54 AM
Okay, let's do this. First, the quote from Katy Gresh is clearly implying that DEP is not attending the hearing because they felt it was unprofessional; I posted the letter I sent to DEP to show how professional and respectful i was in inviting them. Next, my requests for people to testify have been out there for weeks now. Not only did I use Facebook, Twitter and my weekly email blasts to constituents, I made the direct request right here on Patch. (1/30/13- http://canon-mcmillan.patch.com/articles/dep-developed-a-water-test-for-marcellus-shale-impacts-but-never-used-it-ever); for the record, you commented on the article three times yourself, Janice. So with all due respect, spare me the crocodile tears about how I'm not representing "all of my constituents"; did you contact my office and ask to testify? No you did not. So what exactly is your complaint other than the fact that other people are willing to come forward and talk about their experiences with DEP that may not fit well with the talking points provided to you by Energy In Depth? Show up at the hearing, or don't. It's your choice. But stop acting like you're being treated unfairly for some reason because unless you had direct experience dealing with the DEP, this really has nothing to do with you and your shenanigans are disrespectful to the people who have been really affected by this issue.
James Barth February 15, 2013 at 12:57 PM
PA DEP is not capable of doing a proper job, period. Laura Legere recently wrote an article on air pollution due to shale extraction http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/northern-tier-counties-top-state-list-of-marcellus-air-pollution-1.1444316 in which she quotes Krancer as attributing lower emissions within the state to the burning of shale gas, and, saying, "The data show that emissions from drilling represent a small fraction of air pollution in the state,". Krancer totally ignores the impacts of that drilling on Washington, Bradford, and Susquehanna counties, however. "The Northern Tier counties ranked first and second in nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, sulfur oxides and total shale-related air pollution tallied in the first-ever statewide inventory of the industry's emissions... They ranked second and third after Washington County for emissions of volatile organic compounds...The data also show that Marcellus Shale operations are now significant emitters in rural counties with few other so-called point sources of air pollution. The 2,600 tons of shale-related nitrogen oxides emitted in Bradford County in 2011 dwarfed the 235 tons of NOx pollution emitted from all other facilities in the county that year, according to DEP data." Krancer and Corbett ignore local impacts, and are against regulations that would protect the air and water, simply to keep costs down for the industry, which, in turn, allows the industry to pollute.
cecil resident February 15, 2013 at 02:27 PM
Rep. White I'm sorry if you feel that I'm disrespecting you or the people that feel they have a problem with the DEP. I would never disrespect these people because I don't know them or their story just like you really don't know me except that I don't follow all your policies about drilling and the roll of the DEP, asking a question is not disrespect. If you post something on the Patch you should know not everyone's comments will be favorable it is not a site like Facebook where everyone likes a person and if they don‘t , they get blocked.. And when you take a stand for or against something not all comments will be positive just like my letter to the EID here on the Patch Now lets take Energy In Depth out of the picture it has nothing to do with the questions I have asked about the letters you received from the DEP , we have disagreed long before EID came into the area .I 'm sure your issue with EID is that it is a pro gas industry site and they posted my letter. I feel the people who commented ,even your comments, about my letter was doing the same thing I was doing here trying to get answers about why you feel the way you do. It is a site no different then Earthworks or PennFuture except these groups lean the other way and they will be a part of this hearing and have a voice just like EID gave me a voice about drilling. I hope it is not out of line to ask you to post the other members of the policy committee that will be at this hearing.
Amanda Gillooly February 15, 2013 at 08:09 PM
Rep. White - Thank you for the PDF document. I appreciate the information.
Amanda Gillooly February 15, 2013 at 08:10 PM
Roger, I believe they are a recommending body, but will confirm that information. I didn't want you to think I didn't see your comment!
Amanda Gillooly February 15, 2013 at 08:13 PM
Proud, I tried to post a link to information about the policy committee but the site appears to be down. I will try again later. Just wanted to try to address your question!
cecil resident February 15, 2013 at 08:35 PM
thank You Amanda
Amanda Gillooly February 17, 2013 at 04:17 PM
Proud, Sorry for the delay. Here is a link to some more background info on the committee. I hope it is helpful! http://www.pahouse.com/policycommittee/
Roger February 20, 2013 at 01:05 AM
With all the excitement in the past couple of weeks regarding today's meeting, I see nothing about the meeting posted here. Or, didn't the meeting happen?

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