The Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Michael Krancer is backing off of a controversial policy change that would have him and other top department officials sign off on all Marcellus Shale violations cited by inspectors. Now, it is a pilot period for the next three months, and maybe longer depending on what they find.
Environmental advocates said the shift is "unprecedented" and would damage well inspectors' authority and independence. The policy shift became public when WDUQ and other media outlets got a hold of a Department e-mail. DEP spokeswoman Katy Gresh says it's not an approval process..
"It's not a directive aimed at executive staff and Secretary Krancer approving notices of violations before they go out. This whole effort is aimed at achieving consistency among all regions of DEP and central office, and ensuring that violations that are caught in one corner of the Commonwealth are caught everywhere."
She adds what steps will be taken after three months.
"Secretary Krancer and executive staff will look back at the information that has been gathered by staff in the regions and in central office and any inconsistencies that have been identified and we will go from there and determine whether we have achieved consistency...or if more work needs to be done."
When the policy change became public late Wednesday, state lawmakers promised hearings and investigations.