Background: The Attorney General of Pennsylvania, Josh Shapiro, released a scathing report on the criminal harms done by the oil and gas industry to Pennsylvania residents, communities, and the environment and the systemic failure of state agencies to protect them. Many of the findings and recommendations from the report have been known and publicized by advocates, including Earthworks, for the past decade. This report, however, coming from a high ranking state official and with the force of law, puts serious pressure on Governor Wolf and his administration to reconcile their continued support for harmful oil and gas expansion with promises to protect public health, safety, and our climate.
Statement by Nadia Steinzor, Manager of the Community Empowerment Project at Earthworks:
“The Pennsylvania Office of the Attorney General’s Grand Jury Report shows a systemic failure to protect residents from fracking that Governor Wolf and the Department of Environmental Protection can no longer ignore. More than a decade into the fracking boom, they must finally reckon with the truth that so many have spoken for so long. We applaud the Grand Jury’s work and Attorney General Sharpiro’s courage in calling out criminal acts.
“The report makes clear that state government agencies charged with protecting the people of Pennsylvania have been unable and unwilling to fulfill their public mandates, choosing instead to prioritize support for a reckless expansion of oil and gas operations. Many companies have taken advantage of DEP’s lack of oversight and enforcement to act carelessly and with impunity.
“Consequently, Governor Wolf and his administration should immediately stop the issuance of new permits for oil and gas operations until the DEP has sufficient resources, a clear plan, and agency commitment to put health and the environment before industry profit.
“The AG’s findings and DEP’s longstanding inability to fulfill its mandate explains why many Pennsylvanians have demanded an end to oil and gas operations. Now, the state also has to content with the industry’s severe climate impacts. It’s abundantly clear that it’s past time for state leaders to take action to transition Pennsylvania away from fossil fuels and toward a renewable energy future.”
FOR MORE INFORMATION
- Reports by Earthworks
- Press Releases by Earthworks
- Coalition release on stronger DEP protections from PA government (2011)
- Coalition release demanding DEP transparency on water pollution and resident impacts (2012)
- Earthworks release highlighting DEP prioritizing permitting of oil and gas operations during COVID over inspections from citizen complaints (2020
- Other relevant information