Pennsylvania Audit Says State Environmental Watchdog Unable to Regulate Fracking Industry


Pennsylvania Audit Says State Environmental Watchdog Unable to Regulate Fracking IndustryPennsylvania’s auditor general, in a report, said that the state’s environmental officials haven’t sufficiently put in place measures to regulate the burgeoning natural gas sector in the state.

Eugene DePasquale, Pennsylvania’s auditor general disclosed that the state’s Department of Environmental Protection had failed to handle the workload associated with the increasing number of shale gas wells and respond in time to several public complaints concerning air and groundwater contamination associated with drilling activities.

DePasquale also said that the department failed to compel most energy firms to purify contaminated drinking water supplies as per Act 13, the state law enacted in 2012 that controls the natural gas sector. The department was found to have only ordered one operator to replace or restore water supply out of the 15 such contamination complaints raised between 2009 and 2012.


Most environmentalists have long complained that a drilling technique called fracking, also known as hydraulic fracturing, that is employed by energy firms contaminates drinking water sources. Fracking involves pumping millions of gallons of water, sand and chemicals deep underground to fracture rocks to release trapped natural gas, which is then pumped out.

National environmental advocacy group the Oil and Gas Accountability Project of Earthworks, reported in a 2012 research that six U.S. states, among them Pennsylvania, lacked enough manpower and resources to oversee their shale industry.

“There really is a crisis in enforcement nationwide, and in none of the states that we looked at did we find adequate oversight, particularly as the industry is expanding,” Nadia Steinzor, who coordinates the group’s eastern-region activities.

The Department of Environmental Protection disclosed that it since 2008 when shale gas industry started booming, 209 private water sources have been affected by the sector. The department’s secretary E. Christopher Abruzzo however dismissed the report’s findings, saying Act 13 doesn’t compel it to issue orders to energy firms found contaminating the water supplies, though it is empowered to do so at its own discretion. To register for a free 2-week subscription to ForexMinute Premium Plan, visit

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