Revolving Door: Pennsylvania Conservation Dept. Welcomes Former Director at Chesapeake Energy

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Over a handful of Governor Tom Corbett's own administration have resigned more than a year before the end of the governor's first term, for reasons that remain partly cloudy at best. Department of Public Welfare Secretary Gary Alexander left March 2013. Inspector General Kenya Mann Faulkner left the month before Alexander. Turnpike CEO Roger Nutt left October 2012. And then there's the leadership upheaval at Pennsylvania's environmental agencies: the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) in charge of oil and gas extraction and the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) in charge of conservation and management of forests, parks and other natural areas. DCNR has limited authority to manage oil and gas fracking on state land, since DEP issues the permits under its own set of policies and procedures. In June, then head of DCNR Richard Allen was fired after an email to his wife Patricia who then worked at DEP reached the Governor's desk. The email contained potentially-racist comments toward a high-ranking staff member of DEP, whom Allen also called a "B****" in the email. Sources say that the staff member has since quietly left DEP without announcement. Mrs. Allan has also left DEP but still works for the state. Governor Corbett has since replaced Michael Krancer as head of Environmental Protection with environmental expert Chris Abruzzo, former Chief Deputy Attorney General. Aburzzo supervised the state's Drug Strike Force and also serves as Derry Township Supervisor in Hershey, Pa.

Will Fracking Repeat History in Ohio?

Cuyahoga River fire in Ohio. photo: Creative Commons

Triple Divide History Lesson While driving through eastern Ohio yesterday, I stopped for a stroll along the Cayuhoga. In the language of the First Americans, the name meant “crooked river.” For other Americans born centuries later, the name would come to mean “the river that caught on fire from pollution.” The famous Cayuhoga fire of 1969 was blamed on heavy oil slicks, and was one of several that afflicted the river during more than a century of unregulated industrial waste dumping. The image of the river burning has been credited with a surge in the environmental movement and the political support needed to pass the Clean Water Act. Fast-forward to September 2013, as Ohioans turn out in the hundreds to watch different images of rivers threatened and rivers defended—this time in the form of Triple Divide, a documentary about the damage caused by shale gas development.

Triple Divide: Split Estate

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Our Land by Laurel Dammann for Public Herald The following is a look at terms from Public Herald’s feature length documentary Triple Divide that focusses on hydraulic fracturing in Pennsylvania.  Hydraulic Fracturing, or “fracking,” is the process of extracting […]

Drilling Risks: Research Suggests Natural Gas Leases Violate SEC Rules of Fraud

A natural gas well drilled on private property in Tioga County, PA. photo: Melissa A. Troutman

Gas Drilling Doublespeak Landowners Say Companies Kept Them in the Dark on Risks by Environmental Working Group (EWG) Gas drilling companies routinely warn their investors of a litany of possible disasters – such as leaks, spills, explosions, bodily […]