I first heard about this via Sierra Club’s press release today applauding Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett’s decision. According to the Sierra Club press release,
In an internal DEP e-mail message from DEP Executive Deputy Secretary John Hines, dated March 23, DEP inspectors were told that any Notices of Violations (NOVs) would need to be cleared by DEP Secretary Michael Krancer. The new enforcement policy would prevent inspectors from taking enforcement actions by issuing an NOV directly to a drilling company violating environmental laws or regulations. The directive, never intended to be made public, was sent to a reporter at the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, who broke the story.
After hearing about the memo, the Sierra Club and other groups had quickly launched a campaign to get members to contact Governor Corbett to protest his decision.
Here’s an excerpt from a story on the reversal that appeared in today’s Post-Gazette:
The state Department of Environmental Protection has completely rolled back a controversial, 5-week-old procedural change that required all field enforcement actions involving Marcellus Shale gas drilling operations be pre-approved by political appointees in Harrisburg.
Katy Gresh, DEP spokeswoman, said the department’s oil and gas field inspectors are again allowed to write violation notices as they did prior to a March 23 internal department memo that directed them to take no action on violations until they received “final clearance” from DEP Secretary Michael Krancer and a handful of other administrators.
“The notice of violation process is just as it was. The inspectors don’t need pre-approval and that has been communicated to them,” said Ms. Gresh, who added that department administrators will continue to review the violations after they are written to ensure regulations are enforced consistently.