Marcellus shale

Sunlight is, as they say, the best disinfectant!

The state Department of Environmental Protection has killed a controversial directive that required all its shale gas drilling inspectors to first get approval from the agency’s chief before issuing violations.

Katy Gresh, the agency’s spokeswoman, said its top staff had reaffirmed to its field inspectors that they had full power to write up polluters without getting a prior OK from DEP secretary Michael Krancer.

She said that a controversial March 23 email to agency worker – meant to be internal but leaked to the media – had been badly written in saying that Krancer would have “final clearance” over citations.

“The secretary’s intent was not clearly communicated” at the time of the memo, Gresh said Tuesday. All Krancer was seeking was to ensure he was notified of regulatory actions, Gresh said.

Jeff Schmidt, director of the Pennsylvania chapter of the Sierra Club and one among several critics of the original directive, said Tuesday that DEP was now generating a tale of “smoke and mirrors” to pretend there had been no reversal.

In the original March 23 email, a top Krancer aide wrote that “effective immediately,” all violations must first be sent to him and another senior aide – with “final clearance” from Krancer, the new agency chief as a nominee of incoming Gov. Tom Corbett. (The state Senate confirmed Krancer’s nomination last week.)

Schmidt said the original edict was “explicit” in its demands.

“I think they never intended for it to be public, therefore they never planned to deal with it if it became public,” Schmidt said. “Now they’re coming up with one story after another to change history.”