Will Bunch has been all over this story, and I hope all Pennsylvanians tell everyone they know:
In case you needed any more proof that Gov. Tom Corbett came to Harrisburg with a mission — to do anything and everything to help his billionaire friends in the natural gas biz — and that all that other running-the-state stuff comes second, check out this stunning report tonight
Oil and gas inspectors policing Marcellus Shale development in Pennsylvania will no longer be able to issue violations to the drilling companies they regulate without first getting the approval of top officials.
That’s according to a directive laid out in a series of emails received by the Department of Environmental Protection staff last week and leaked to ProPublica. The emails say the new edict applies only to enforcement actions related to Marcellus Shale drilling and that failure to seek prior approval “will not be acceptable.”
John Hanger, who was the chief environmental official under Corbett’s predecessor, Ed Rendell, and who has been fairly down the middle until now about the new GOP governor’s policies toward the natural gas gold-rush in rural Pennsylvania involving hydrofracking, or “fracking,” is appalled by this new info. Hanger tells ProPublica the DEP directives are “really breathtaking,” “profoundly unwise,” and should be rescinded immediately.
As the article notes, Corbett has already named a major campaign donor from the coal industry with a history of anti-environmentalism to oversee new permit applications for natural gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale. All this, of course, comes after Corbett’s rigid refusal to consider the kind of tax on natural gas drilling that exists in the other 14 of the top 15 gas-producing states, even as his administration plans to slash spending for public schools and state universities to the bone.