UPDATE: PA DEP Responds to Allegations of Fracking Contamination Coverup

DEP Secretary Mike Krancer has responded to the allegations that his agency has devised methods to conceal the fact that water was contaminated by fracking.  Here is an excerpt from the letter that he sent to PA State Rep. Jesse White.
Professional staff, trained in evaluating Water complaints, utilize  the relevant data and information to inform their conclusions. Although other results are  generated by the lab tests, such results would not contribute to answering the question at hand–  determining whether there is a connection between the gas Well activities and the Water supply.
Your press release also omits that these parameters subject to investigation in Pennsylvania are
substantially similar to the ones used in other states such as, for example, New York, Ohio,
Colorado and Wyoming.
In this particular investigation, the levels of the additional parameters were extremely low. None  exceeded a primary or secondary Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) for drinking Water.  Silica, one of the additional parameters mentioned, is one of the most common compounds found  in our natural environment. Therefore, finding Silica – particularly at these low levels – doesn’t inform DEP about Whether a Water supply is adversely affected by oil and gas related activities.
Read the entire letter by clicking here.

ORIGINAL POST (11/5/12):

When anti-drilling PA State Rep. Jesse White went on the offensive to allege that the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, it was obviously going to receive a quick response from drilling advocates and the DEP itself.  And those responses have come.

From Energy in Depth:
A state representative from Western Pennsylvania has attacked the Pennsylvania DEP in a story reported in the New York Times and elsewhere with some fanfare, but readers need to know the background of the accusers, the real causes underlying their complaints and the facts about what belongs and doesn’t belong in a testing report. 
State Rep. Jesse White of Washington County has attacked the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) on the word of a junkyard plaintiff, leaving out essential background on the circumstances of the complaint as well as the plaintiff and offering no discussion of how Pennsylvania’s procedures line up with other states.  This has generated some misleading headlines and excited natural gas opponents – but a closer look at the facts reveals a tale quite different from the one being reported in The New York Times.
The first thing you need to know is that lawsuit in question involves a Washington Co., Pa. junkyard owner named Loren Kiskadden against Range Resources for what are alleged to be health issues related to a natural gas wellsite nearby.  Kiskadden claims, according to the Times, to have nausea, bone pain, breathing difficulties and severe headaches he says are consistent with exposure to “hazardous chemicals and gases through air and water.”  The Times also then picks up on the theme of Mr. Kiskadden’s attorney, who, with the help of Rep. White, asserts that DEP had somehow kept testing data from them all.  DEP very effectively countered the last part of the story with the facts and EID has offered further perspective here.
But there’s still more to the story – a lot more – and it relates directly to the allegations being made.  A discerning reader will want to know the rest.
Read that entire article here.

The Marcellus Shale Coalition has also responded:
State representative Jesse White – an “outspoken opponent” of safe, tightly-regulated, clean-burning American natural gas development – has doubled-down on his misguided public relations efforts. In his latest salvo, Mr. Whiteclaims that the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) “developed a specialized computer-code system to manipulate the test results for residents whose water was tested by the DEP over concerns of adverse effects from gas drilling operations,” while also going as far to suggest that “someone belongs in a jail cell” potentially.
The only shred of manipulation here, of course, is from those opposed to job-creating American natural gas development – which has helped propel Washington County (Mr. White’s legislative district) to third in the nation in job growth – including a plaintiff’s attorney, who, like Mr. White, continues to lob unsubstantiated claims. The foundation of Mr. White’s fragmented argument is that DEP omitted certain water quality findings in its report to landowners who had brought legal challenges to a nearby natural gas producer.
Read the rest here.

More he said she said, and those looking for unbiased reality in the fracking debate are no farther along than they were before this latest round of agenda-centered sparring started.

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