Protect P-T hopes letter-writing campaign can spur DEP investigation
A citizen’s group working to make sure unconventional gas development is done safely is not convinced that the Pennsylvania department charged with the same task is doing its job.
Protect P-T, which is currently appealing two Penn Township well permits issued by the state’s Department of Environmental Protection to Apex Energy, has formally requested that Attorney General Josh Shapiro “investigate the (DEP’s) issuance of new permits to oil and gas developers who have unresolved violations.”
Its members are also asking citizens to get involved, by sending letters to Shapiro and Gov. Tom Wolf asking the same. A form letter can be found at ProtectPT.org .
“The DEP has failed to protect our rights to clean air, pure water and the preservation of the environment,” Protect PT Executive Director Gillian Graber said. “As a state institution, the DEP is charged with upholding laws established to protect our rights and the environment. The department’s decision to prioritize corporations over human health and the environment breaches the department’s duty to protect citizens and the environment.”
DEP Spokeswoman Lauren Fraley said the department does not comment on matters which — like the Apex appeals — are in litigation.
“However, the hearing before the (DEP’s) Environmental Hearing Board will afford Protect P-T a full opportunity to have its concerns adjudicated, and the DEP expects the department’s actions will be found both lawful and protective upon review,” Fraley said.
Additionally, Protect PT asked the attorney general to investigate the DEP’s actions and to bring an enforcement suit against Apex Energy (PA), LLC, for violating the Clean Streams Laws.
Joe Grace, spokesman for Shapiro, said his office had no comment, “and we can never confirm or deny the existence of any investigation.”
Graber said she hopes a large chorus of residents’ voices can make a difference.
“We want the attorney general to know that we care about our rights, our health, our environment, and we deserve better than what we are getting,” she said. “We just feel that the DEP is not doing a good job of protecting our health and they’re not upholding their duty, quite frankly, and their stated mission to protect Pennsylvania’s air, land and water from pollution.”
Patrick Varine is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Patrick at 724-850-2862, [email protected] or via Twitter @MurrysvilleStar.