Senator Baker Request Draws Favorable State Response

During recent discussions about community concerns relating to natural gas drilling in northeastern Pennsylvania, Senator Lisa Baker asked the state Department of Environmental Protection to set up an office closer than the regional office in Williamsport. Baker said that DEP Secretary John Hanger’s decision to open a Scranton office is the right move at the right time.

“Our communities need the economic boost that gas drilling will provide, but we simply cannot afford to have state government shortchange oversight. The Rendell Administration deserves credit for moving quickly and prudently to fill what would have been a serious gap in their oversight capabilities. If the indications are correct, and they are putting ten individuals in the new office, that is a significant presence, at least at the start, and accessibility and turnaround time will be much improved,” Baker stated.

“Given the increase in drilling activity expected to take place in the region, and the potential environmental consequences of mistakes, long-distance oversight was not an acceptable answer. It would not be sufficient for community concerns, and it would not rise to the level of responsibility state government must demonstrate,” she pointed out.

“The problems in the early going, such as well leaks, underscore the importance of stepped-up oversight. When things go wrong, as they surely will, sometime somewhere, a timely response can prevent a problem from turning into a nightmare. And a commitment to inspection and monitoring can prevent problems from occurring,” Baker noted.

“Given the shortfalls in state programs due to still slumping revenues, it was not easy to round up funding to pay for additional personnel and a new office. However, the economic and environmental stakes involved in tapping the Marcellus Shale clearly warrant this move,” she concluded.

Contact: Jennifer Wilson
(570) 675-3931

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