Fellow citizens of Pennsylvania, we have a serious problem. The suspicion that PA DEP is colluding with the gas industry, a belief long held by many living within the Marcellus Shale, has just been further supported by the sworn testimony of two whistleblowers. Two employees from within the PA DEP, Taru Upadhyay and John Carson, have given depositions describing outrageous breaches of trust by the PA DEP, alleging they deliberately failed to report the presence of metals, which are known hydrofracking-related contaminants, in water wells it tested in the Marcellus Shale:
In addition, the following volatile organic compounds commonly used in the Fracking process were also found in wells and not reported:
- T-butyl alcohol
Don Hopey has been reporting in The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that the PA DEP has systematically been producing incomplete lab reports on water wells affected by hydraulic fracturing and has been using those tainted reports to refute the claims of those Pennsylvanians whose water has been impacted by drilling operations.
These are VERY serious allegations. People in PA usually only request water testing by the DEP because they suspect their water has been contaminated. PA Rep. Jesse White is rightly calling for a state and federal investigation. If the PA DEP has been deliberately altering or obstructing test data and telling people their water was safe, then, as Rep. White says, “anyone who relied on the DEP for the truth about whether their water has been impacted by drilling activities has apparently been intentionally deprived of critical health and safety information by their own government.”
Many throughout PA have waited months for DEP water test results, only to find out that they were mysteriously hung up in Harrisburg. Many have experienced discrepancies between the costly independent water tests they ordered from private labs and “official” test reports from the DEP. As a result, many have long suspected misconduct or some form of obstruction at work within the DEP. I’m one of them. But this week’s revelations are jaw-dropping even for the most jaded conspiracy theorist. They leave me shocked and outraged.
This egregious behavior represents a naked example of putting corporate profits ahead of public health and safety, even at the cost of poisoning our water and our faith in government.
What a sad contrast with what we’ve seen in the last week as federal, state and municipal governments mobilized an unprecedented and moving response to Hurricane Sandy. All across the eastern seaboard we are mourning the lives taken by this storm and sending our thoughts to those whose loved ones have been lost. While we reel from its effects, we’re also aggrieved that these extreme weather events, which grow in intensity and destructiveness each year, are only beginning to be acknowledged as effects of climate change. Fracking and other extreme techniques for extracting and increasing our reliance on fossil fuels only stand to make it worse.
Pennsylvania’s citizens have had enough of being exploited by big oil and gas. They deserve an immediate and thorough investigation into this brazen, and what seems to be illegal, conduct of Krancer and Corbett’s DEP. If the whistleblowers’ allegations and the Post-Gazette’s reporting turn out to be true, we should call for the impeachment and/or recall of the Corbett administration.