2011-04-21 / Local & State

Pennsylvania Accused Of Rubber-Stamping Gas Permits

By Michael Rubinkam

ALLENTOWN, Pa. (AP) – Pennsylvania environmental regulators say they spend as little as 35 minutes reviewing each of the thousands of applications for natural gas well permits they get each year.

They also acknowledge they don’t give additional scrutiny to requests to drill near high-quality, legally protected streams and rivers.

State regulators testified recently as part of a lawsuit filed by residents and environmental groups over a permit for an exploratory gas well near the Delaware River.

The environmental agency has denied few requests to drill in the lucrative Marcellus Shale formation, the world’s second-largest gas field. The regulators’ sworn statements raise questions about whether permit applications are simply being rubber stamped.

Jordan Yeager, an attorney challenging a drilling permit, says skeptics like him DEP assume regulators are “doing the basics.” He says they’re not.

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