Environmental drilling opponents have jumped all over a new report by the Pennsylvania Land Trust Association identifying almost 1,500 violations by 43 Marcellus Shale drilling companies by the PA Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) since 2008.
The majority of the violations with environmental consequences involved “poor erosion and sedimentation plans” and “improper construction of wastewater impoundments.”
Drilling opponents use violations to point to the need for a tax or federal regulation. But a tax will do nothing to prevent further infractions. The vast amount of reported violations would not be affected by a severance tax or federal involvement – in fact, taxing the industry or shifting regulatory burden to the EPA could reduce safety protections.
While the violations are troubling, the citations prove prove the DEP is actively regulating the industry. Indeed, DEP Secretary John Hanger (no friend of natural gas) noted that while the industry needs to make improvements, they are being tightly regulated and monitored.