Pennsylvania's Department of Environmental Protection has stepped back from its policy regarding on-site violation. On March 23rd, an internal memo was leaked to the press directing all DEP inspectors to run potential violations by DEP Secretary Michael Krancer. There was an immediate outcry from citizens and local, regional, and environmental organizations. It looks as though that may have played some part in the policy's reversal.
According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, DEP is saying that Krancer's intent was not clearly stated. Some, like Sierra Club's Jeff Schmidt aren't buying it. The article quotes Schmidt as saying, "I think they never intended for it to be public, therefore they never planned to deal with it if it became public. Now they're coming up with one story after another to change history." Activists in the blogosphere, on Facebook, and Twitter seem to agree. And history now has the recent well blowout in Bradford County.
That threat to public health and the environment have prompted Maryland's attorney general to sue Chesapeake Energy. The attorney general's statement begins as follows:
BALTIMORE, MD ( May 2, 2011) - Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler today announced that he has sent a letter to Chesapeake Energy Corporation and its affiliates, notifying the companies of the State of Maryland's intent to sue for violating the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) and the Clean Water Act (CWA). On April 19, thousands of gallons of fracking fluids were released from a well owned and operated by Chesapeake Energy into Towanda Creek, a tributary of the Susquehanna River, which supplies 45% of the fresh water in the Chesapeake Bay. In his letter, Attorney General Gansler notified the company that at the close of the required 90-day notice period, the State intends to file a citizen suit and seek injunctive relief and civil penalties under RCRA for solid or hazardous waste contamination of soils and ground waters, and the surface waters and sediments of Towanda Creek and the Susquehanna River. The State also intends to seek injunctive relief and civil penalties under the CWA for violation of the CWA's prohibition on unpermitted pollution to waters of the United States.You can read more about the suit at The Baltimore Sun.
There are now a few high-profile lawsuits in the work. Do you think Maryland is in the right on this?