ProPublica reports that Pennsylvania is limiting the ability of inspectors to cite operators of hydrofracking operations:
The memos require that each of the hundreds of enforcement actions taken routinely against oil and gas operators in Pennsylvania each month now be approved by the department’s executive deputy secretary, John Hines. The memos are raising concerns that the state’s environmental inspectors can no longer act independently and that regulations could be overridden by the political whims of the state’s new governor, Tom Corbett.
“What this apparently is saying is that before any final action, the inspector must get approval by two political appointees: the secretary and the deputy secretary,” said John Hanger, who headed the DEP until January under former Gov. Ed Rendell and worked to strengthen the state’s oil and gas regulations. “It’s an extraordinary directive. It represents a break from how business has been done in the department within the Marcellus Shale and within the oil and gas program for probably 20 years.
ProPublica also reports that there are 120,000 deteriorating gas wells across the country, some of which are leaking gas into homes and causing explosions. Some of those wells are close to 100 years old.
As Fukushima dumps radioactive water into the sea, and it’s revealed that the Japanese government didn’t release projections that showed high levels of radiation far from the plant, it’s worth remembering that it isn’t just nuclear energy that leaves a toxic legacy, and that the Republican decision to leave frackers to their own devices will probably be causing problems long after the last victim of thyroid cancer is buried in Japan.