The state Department of Environmental Protection was caught off guard by the rapid pace at which the natural gas industry expanded and couldn’t efficiently respond to public health complaints, Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale told a Senate panel on Wednesday.
Testifying before the Senate Democratic Policy Committee, DePasquale in written testimony said the department was hampered by a lack of people and technical resources.
“On the human side, DEP does not have enough inspectors to meet the ever-growing demands placed upon it. On the technical side, DEP’s IT-resources are antiquated and woefully inefficient to serve the needs of today’s connected consumers,” he said.
“As if these conditions weren’t bad enough—DEP has also failed to keep its own policies and procedures up to date with the demands created from shale gas development. We found that DEP did a poor job in communicating its investigation results to citizens who registered complaints with the department.”
The committee called the hearing to learn more about how state agencies track and act on public health complaints related to natural gas drilling.
DePasquale’s office earlier this year audited the DEP in regard to its tracking of complaints and found that its efforts are wanting. His office made 29 recommendations for improvement.