Minutes after he was sworn in as the state’s new auditor general on Tuesday, Eugene DePasquale said his office would undertake a sweeping investigation into potential water pollution resulting from the hydraulic fracturing boom in the state’s Marcellus Shale region.
DePasquale, a former Democratic legislator in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, told supporters during his inaugural address that one of his first actions would be to launch an inquiry into the Department of Environmental Protection’s protocols for monitoring pollution generated by gas drillers in the state.
“Today it is clear: We must strive to grow our economy and protect our environment at the same time,” DePasquale, a former DEP staffer, told a group of supporters in the state museum after his swearing-in. “That is why one of my first official duties as auditor general will be to initiate a performance audit of the [DEP] to make sure our constitutional right to pure water is not being compromised by natural gas drilling.”
While recognizing the immense economic potential of natural gas drilling, he said that he wanted to ensure that Pennsylvania’s waterways don’t suffer the same fate they saw as a result of the state’s coal boom.
“While natural gas drilling has brought new opportunities to small towns and rural communities throughout the state, that same drilling poses challenges to our environmental regulators, our local communities and our natural resources,” he said. “At the same time, we cannot forget mistakes made in the past. Our Pennsylvania waterways are still suffering — despite billions of dollars in cleanup — from inadequate oversight of the coal industry in previous generations.”…