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Green groups question state's gas drilling report

Published on NewsOK Modified: May 9, 2014 at 10:29 am •  Published: May 9, 2014

PITTSBURGH (AP) — The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection thinks it is doing a good job regulating the biggest gas drilling boom in the nation, but environmental groups say that a new state report is far too optimistic.

The DEP report issued this week claims that Pennsylvania is a "world class leader" in regulating oil and gas production and balancing economic and environmental needs.

That's hardly the case, said Delaware Riverkeeper Maya K. van Rossum.

"Pennsylvania is either fooling itself, or working hard to fool the world" and that no one should look to the state as a model, van Rossum wrote in an email. She added that Pennsylvania Supreme Court justices mentioned environmental concerns in a landmark ruling last years that overturned parts of recent oil and gas legislation.

"Pennsylvania's shale gas program, laws and regulations do not prevent the harms of shale gas development," said van Rossum, whose environmental group focuses on water-quality issues. Many environmental groups say there have been too many instances of water and air pollution related to the drilling practice known as fracking, while state regulators claim they are rare.

The Marcellus Shale lies under large parts of Pennsylvania and West Virginia and a drilling boom that began in 2008 has turned the region into one of the most productive natural gas fields in the nation.

The DEP report contains some statistics but is light on key details.

For example, it said that the number of violations at unconventional well sites decreased from 1,281 to 512 between 2010 and 2013, but didn't specify how many fines were issued last year.

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