Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Hanger: DEP Can Still Do Job Despite Budget Cuts

Governor Ed Rendell’s budget would trim Pennsylvania's Department of Environmental Protection spending by 2.4 percent, a year after the agency experienced major budget cuts.
DEP Secretary John Hanger says even with reduced spending levels, his department is still accomplishing its mission.
97 DEP employees lost their jobs last year, when the department’s budget was trimmed by 58 million dollars.
The Rendell Administration is proposing another 3.8 million dollar reduction.
Hanger told members of the Senate Appropriations Committee the cuts haven’t hurt DEP’s ability to provide environmental oversight, noting more drilling inspectors are being funded through an alternative revenue stream.

"The department was able to, with the support of this legislature, able to raise the fees for Marcellus drilling and other gas drilling. And we’ve added – this year we’ll be adding 67 employees to the gas oversight."

Environmental advocacy groups have said DEP is woefully unprepared to monitor the impending surge of natural gas drillers who are expected to set up shop in the state’s Marcellus Shale formation. Hanger has strongly disagreed with that criticism, pointing to fines the department has levied against drilling companies for pollution and water contamination.

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