A group of Pennsylvania citizens trying to back up thinly stretched state regulators has drawn the ire of some in the oil and gas business.
The Pine Creek Headwaters Protection Group has set up a “waterdogs” program “to teach citizens in Susquehanna, Bradford and Tioga counties how to monitor waterways and well sites in the midst of a rapid expansion of gas drilling. It is also aimed at supplementing the oversight of the Department of Environmental Protection, which has struggled to fill all 17 oil and gas positions in its northcentral regional office.”
“The region is too large and the resources of the regulators too limited to effectively keep track of the exponential growth in activity taking place,” the group said.
The Pennsylvania Oil & Gas Association put up a post on its blog about the group titled “Environmental vigilante training to help enforce Marcellus drilling regs.”
Stephen Rhoads, president of the association, said his post was meant to be “tongue-in-cheek,” but the production of natural gas in the state and its regulation are “very serious issues.”
“To act like you’re going to make someone competent as a DEP inspector with two hours of training for issues as complicated and arcane as these… is a little naive and a little dangerous,” he said.
He also said the volunteers risk creating more work for DEP, rather than helping its staff, “by reporting things that aren’t in fact a problem.