Auditor to study gas drilling

BY ROBERT SWIFT

Times-Shamrock Writer

As one of his first acts, new state Auditor General Eugene DePasquale has launched a performance audit to determine how well state environmental officials have monitored the impact of natural gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale formation on water quality and waste disposal.

DePasquale, who took office Tuesday, Jan. 15, sent a letter the next day to Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Michael Krancer informing him of the audit covering activities from 2009 to 2012.

DePasquale, a former DEP deputy secretary in the Rendell administration and Democratic House lawmaker, pledged to make this audit a priority during his campaign.

He reaffirmed that goal in his inaugural address.

“One of my first official duties as auditor general will be to initiate a performance audit of the Department of Environmental Protection to make sure our constitutional right to pure water is not compromised by natural gas drilling,” said DePasquale.

In the letter to Krancer, the auditor general said one of the audit’s preliminary objectives would be to determine the adequacy and effectiveness of DEP’s testing and reporting of water samples from drilling operations and response to any evidence of water contamination.

Another objective is to determine how the agency has monitored the handling, treatment and disposal of wastes from drilling operations.

The audit will seek to find out if regional DEP offices have been consistent in their oversight of drilling activities, said DePasquale spokesman Barry Ciccocioppo.

A performance audit gauges whether a state program meets stated goals and if tax dollars are being spent efficiently and effectively.