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State Committee Looks at DEP Reporting Procedures for Environmental Testing Results

A public hearing was held in Washington and hosted by state Rep. Jesse White on Tuesday.

The House Democratic Policy Committee on Tuesday heard from local residents and environmental advocates at a public hearing in Washington to examine the guidelines for the state Department of Environmental Protection’s reporting of results of environmental tests following natural gas drilling.

State Rep. Jesse White, D-Cecil, requested the hearing and served as its co-chairman. White recently introduced H.B. 268 that

“Pennsylvanians in the Marcellus Shale region have a right and need to know what chemicals are in the water linked to natural gas drilling,” state Rep. Mike Sturla, who heads the policy committee, said. “I applaud Rep. White for the thorough job he has done of reaching out to stakeholders in southwest Pennsylvania in the best interest of all residents.”

“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.”

Those testifying at the hearing included: Kim Staub, resident of Mt. Pleasant Township; Chris Lauff, resident of Mt. Pleasant Township; Judy Armstrong Stiles, resident of Wyalusing Township, Bradford County; David Headley, resident of Springhill Township, Fayette County; and Craig Stevens, resident of Silver Lake Township, Susquehanna County; and environmental advocates Nadia Steinzor, eastern program coordinator, Earthworks; Melissa Troutman, outreach coordinator, Mountain Watershed Association; Steve Hvozdovich, policy associate, Clean Water Action;  and Erika Staaf, clean water advocate, PennEnvironment.

For more information about the Policy Committee and hearing materials, visit www.pahouse.com/PolicyCommittee.

Editor's Note: For further coverage, click here for the Post-Gazette story

Roger February 20, 2013 at 11:42 AM
It sounds like nothing new here. As others pointed out in previous articles, the event was a charade, just one more opportunity for press coverage of some folks griping. Since it was a political entity, there was no reason for the DEP to show. I am doubting the DEP would have heard anything they haven't heard many times before. The complaints about the DEP not showing to defend themselves are dismissed. In reading the agenda posted several days ago, there was no room for the DEP to speak. The agenda was staffed by those who are anti-drilling, and this was one more public forum for them to get some press coverage. In this regard, it was a great job for those organizing the event. Somebody called it political theater, and the reports indicate the event fulfilled its purpose. The ball was not advanced down the field. It is more of the same, "... just people sitting around the table talking."
Cindy McPherson February 20, 2013 at 12:54 PM
Roger, your ignorance is disturbing.
Sam February 20, 2013 at 02:07 PM
I am a gas leaseholder. I attended yesterday's hearing about the DEP and it was anything BUT a charade, Roger. It was informative and sobering. It was NOT anti-drilling and as a leaseholder I would be the first to say if it had been. The topic was DEP accountability and that was the focus. It was videotaped by PCN and I hope anyone who is interested takes the time to watch it personally before commenting negatively on it. This is a serious issue. The DEP is understaffed and underresourced to match the explosive growth of the gas industry. They are simply undergunned for their mission. I know some who have called upon the DEP for assistance at various times and the response (lack of response) has been disappointing. Speaking from what I saw and heard at the hearing, I'd say it was a significant step in focusing attention on the need to keep the DEP as a regulatory and enforcement agency, not a promoter of the industry. Again, let me point out that I personally benefit from the industry and I want to see it succeed. But it can't be allowed to run rampant without adequate enforcement for violations, etc. This is not a black and white issue as so many want to make it. I urge anyone with interest to watch a full video of the hearing on PCN. It was professionally conducted throughout. And I don't think anyone could have left the hearing without wondering if it is finally time to take a closer look at the management of the DEP.
Amanda Gillooly February 20, 2013 at 03:08 PM
Thank you everyone for your comments. I will post links to the video soon!!
Ben E. February 20, 2013 at 03:23 PM
Whats disturbing is the dishonesty in this whole thing. This was a scam and as the DEP classified it, political theater. White needs to focus on actual isssues instead of reaching for relevance with fantasies. None of the conspiraciea he's pitched have caught on and its getting tiresome. White is paid with public funds so he needs to be held accountable for his childish behavior.
Sam February 20, 2013 at 03:47 PM
Sorry, but I can't accept the DEP's attempt to discredit this hearing. It was conducted in an entirely professional manner. At a minimum, I would have expected a representative from the DEP to attend as an observer -- not to answer questions on the spot -- but to demonstrate some real interest in hearing what citizens are actually experiencing and to show they are interested in improving their public perception and possibly their performance. On the contrary, to me the DEP seems to be attempting to deflect criticism of itself by attacking those who are raising questions. I urge you to watch the entire hearing for yourself when it is available rather than relying on anyone else's comments.
Amanda Gillooly February 20, 2013 at 03:52 PM
Sam, did other legislators attend as well? Just curious.
FrackFighter February 20, 2013 at 04:56 PM
Watch for yourselves... Please go to 6:00 of this video and listen to the story of Julia Stiles and her family: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RPEYKIhxnQw Decide for yourselves... who exactly is engaging in "political theater" and a "scam". Full hearing videos here: 1...http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m7QB_I01Sls 2...link is above 3...http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZPiw3KAN8jI 4...http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EPnfh_M0Jpk 5...http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Dj06NR6KGs Methane is still bubbling in the Susquehanna...the DEP is still "investigating"
Amanda Gillooly February 20, 2013 at 05:03 PM
(The video has been uploaded to the site - just wanted to let everyone know! Thank you again!)
Prouder American February 20, 2013 at 05:24 PM
Sorry, but White was 100% professional on this one. He barely even spoke- let the testifiers do most of the talking. Anyone who is trying to turn this into a negative on him is the one being childish.
Amanda Gillooly February 20, 2013 at 05:26 PM
Again - the source documentation is included. I, too, would encourage all interested parties to view the entire video. Thanks, everyone, for your perspectives!
FrackFighter February 20, 2013 at 06:22 PM
Thank You, Amanda Although I am new to your site, I am far from new to this issue - particularly as concerns PA. Take a hard look at Craig Stevens' testimony from videos 2 & 3. Now, there's perspective. Very few know as much or work as hard as Craig. I trust you will continue to enlarge and sharpen your own perspective as well.
Sam February 20, 2013 at 07:05 PM
Amanda - Yes, there were at least five legislators who participated in the hearing and who questioned the various people who were testifying.
Ben E. February 20, 2013 at 08:16 PM
Let me get this straight. White pushed the Act 13 lawsuit because he didnt want "the state" to dictate what happens locally. So after he gets written responses from the head of the DEP, White concocts this meeting, claims the DEP wont answer questions (the same questions they actually did answer previously), then fakes his indignation when they blow off his staged public bashing of them but in the eyes of his supporters, the meeting was legit because of the presence of " at least five legislators"? Im confused. So "the state" actually can be trusted? Or do you all mean just selectively? And no anti-drillers? Everyone listed is anti-drilling. Amanda, maybe you can ask your other distinguished commenters to provide the names of those attendees who are industry experts, scientists, geologists or any profession that could speak to the issues with some authority or even just credibility.
Amanda Gillooly February 20, 2013 at 09:53 PM
Ben, I was just curious as to see who else was there legislatively.
Jesse White February 21, 2013 at 05:01 AM
Let's get something clear. Secretary Krancer did NOT respond to my questions. He wrote me two rambling letters filled with personal insults that deliberately did not address the issues. I wrote to him on December 5 and asked ten very specific questions and have received no response of any kind. Repeating that the DEP responded over and over again simply does not make it true. I would challenge anyone to produce a letter to me from Secretary Krancer after December 5, 2012, because it just doesn't exist. Second, I put out several open requests through various forms of traditional and electronic media seeking people or groups to testify. I swear on my oath as a public servant that not one person or group approached us to testify about a positive experience with the DEP. So it's hard to complain about not being at an event when you refused the invitation. Finally, have you seen what happens when any scientist or expert who disagrees with DEP does speak up? They get blasted by DEP and the gas industry; it never fails. It's simple; if DEP can prove I'm wrong, they should show up and do it already instead of hiding from the taxpayers who pay their salaries.
cecil resident February 21, 2013 at 01:46 PM
Rep. White back on Feb. 13 we had a debate on the Patch about this hearing and I also asked you to produce the two letters from November one on the 6th and one on the 9th from the DEP. You stated at that time you didn't have those letter have you been able to locate them and post them so we could see what the DEP has told you about there process and their analysis so that we can see if they have answered questions. Some of those families that had issues with their well water in Mt. Pleasant wasn't that corrected and city water installed in those houses if this is so then your beef is not with Range doing the right thing by these families it is only now the DEP?
Jesse White February 21, 2013 at 02:04 PM
Janice, you think this was about Range Resources? Would it surprise you to know the words "Range Resources" were never said once during the entire 2 1/2 hour hearing? Many of the testifiers redacted the name of the drilling companies involved in order to keep the focus on the DEP. But I'm interested- how did you know the sites in Mt. Pleasant were Range Resources sites? You could not have possibly gotten that information from the hearing- not that you were there anyhow. So how did you get your information?
Roger February 21, 2013 at 02:07 PM
So, the testimony was orchestrated? Is that what you are saying?
Jesse White February 21, 2013 at 02:12 PM
Nice try, Roger, but way off. I had a vague idea of what some of the testimony would be about but did not have any input in what any of the testifiers would be saying. Several of them chose on their own to redact the drilling companies' names from their testimony. Again, for someone as insightful as you portend to be, I'm really surprised you aren't seeing through these tactics by the DEP.
Prouder American February 21, 2013 at 02:19 PM
Here's what I don't get about all of these conspiracy-driven naysayers. You keep talking about needing public servants who are looking out for the people and standing up to corruption. Now you have one right in front of you in Jesse White, and all you can do is tear him down. This guy comes on here and answers your ridiculousness in a way no other public official does; he clearly is trying to do the right thing. Has anyone from DEP ever come on to this site to explain themselves? Heck no, but somehow you blindly defend them and Corbett and the whole gang, making yourselves look really pathetic in the process. You have a personal vendetta against Jesse White. It's obvious. Painfully obvious. Pathetically obvious. But ironically, he's the closest thing you'll see in a long time to the kind of public servant you say we need. If you pull your heads out of the sand to see that, you may be surprised.
cecil resident February 21, 2013 at 05:24 PM
Jesse hope you don't feel it is disrespectful to use your first name you are not the only person who supplies people with info the Internet is wonderful. When will you post those two letters I Have asked you to post several times? I didn't say Range was brought up at the meeting that was just a general comments. How do you know if I didn't have eyes and ears at the one sided hearing.
FrackFighter February 21, 2013 at 05:45 PM
Fracking in SW PA, Rich Kasunic, and Jesse White made the news in the UK yesterday...from The Telegraph: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/energy/gas/9883362/Now-for-the-downside-of-fracking.html David Headley, who spoke at the hearing, is also quoted. Some of you need to get over yourselves for a few minutes and open your eyes.
Ben E. February 21, 2013 at 05:53 PM
Site information is available through the PUC. Or are they part of the grand conspiracy too? White admits the DEP actually did respond, though they apparently didnt bite at the bait. Matter of fact i recall seeing a public response from Krancer even reported on this site. He basically said White was full of it. I see now why White is upset. To be fair, i will ask directly how many scientists, experts of any kind or any type of qualified professionals were invited who declined? The bit about this being open to anyone doesnt work. Nor does trying to pin somd bizarrd blame on DEP for being hostile toward people who didnt even know about it. So spare all of us ths crocodile tears and offer some answers.

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