Report slams drilling oversight, tells of fracking’s impact

Pennsylvania

The report notes notes that the state’s Department of Environmental Protection and State Department of Health failed to protect Pennsylvanians

FILE—In this file photo from March 12, 2020, work continues at a shale gas well drilling site in St. Mary's, Pa. Pennsylvania attorney general Josh Shapiro is scheduled to release results on Thursday June 25, 2020 of a grand jury investigation into natural gas hydraulic fracturing. The fracking process has raised environmental concerns while turning the state into a major energy producer.

FILE—In this file photo from March 12, 2020, work continues at a shale gas well drilling site in St. Mary’s, Pa. Pennsylvania attorney general Josh Shapiro is scheduled to release results on Thursday June 25, 2020 of a grand jury investigation into natural gas hydraulic fracturing. The fracking process has raised environmental concerns while turning the state into a major energy producer. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic, File)

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — A grand jury investigation into Pennsylvania’s large natural gas drilling industry released Thursday by state Attorney General Josh Shapiro has found systematic failures in state departments regulating that industry.

The report comes after nearly two years of investigation into the state’s Marcellus Shale exploration industry. It notes that the state’s Department of Environmental Protection and State Department of Health failed to protect Pennsylvanians by not policing or investigating environmental complaints, failed to collect health data and failed to warn the public when they were at risk.

The grand jury recommends giving Shapiro’s office the ability to criminally investigate the industry as well as other increased regulations.

Shapiro also recommended the following safety steps:

  • Expanding no-drill zones in Pennsylvania from the required 500 feet to 2,500 feet;
  • Requiring fracking companies to publicly disclose all chemicals used in drilling and hydraulic fracturing before they are used on-site;
  • Requiring the regulation of gathering lines, used to transport unconventional gas hundreds of miles;
  • Adding up all sources of air pollution in a given area to accurately assess air quality;
  • Requiring safer transport of the contaminated waste created from fracking sites;
  • Conducting a comprehensive health response to the effects of living near unconventional drilling sites;
  • Limiting the ability of Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection employees to be employed in the private sector immediately after leaving the Department;
  • Allowing the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General original criminal jurisdiction over unconventional oil and gas companies.

Read the full report here.

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