AUGUST 28, 2018 - BREAKING! WE'VE BEEN SILENCED! DEP MUST NOT OMIT FRACKING FROM EJ POLICY
At 5:57 p.m., we received an email from the DEP telling us we can't comment by phone. We ask everyone who planned to comment to submit their comments online before midnighttomorrow. Here's the link: https://www.ahs.dep.pa.gov/eComment/
It's the third one on the list. You can read the policy and then click Submit Comments to the right of the entry.
Please include in your comments that denying people the opportunity to comment via the phone as the same DEP representative encouraged us to do is not acceptable.
We will be issuing a press release on this turn of events.
Talking points on the omission of shale gas development from the EJ policy revisions.
-Tell the DEP cutting out fracked communities is unacceptable.
-Tell the DEP to expand the list of "trigger permits" - the list of permits that triggers an enviromental justice process omits 99% of the permits related to shale gas development.
-Tell the DEP you want all Pennsylvanians to have an opportunity to comment and that the best way to ensure maximum participation is to add public hearings across the state.
-Tell the DEP that it should conduct the most robust public participation process it can and hold hearings across the state so that all who wish to be heard can be heard. Many Pennsylvanians don't use computers, have a hard time even learning about comment periods, as a result, and can't submit comments via an online portal. For many, being able to testify at a hearing is their best, if not only, option.
Join the Better Path Coalition on Tuesday when we tell the Department of Environmental Protection's Environmental Justice board that its proposed policy revisions that cut out shale gas development are unacceptable.
We will comment via teleconference during the EJ Board's meeting. We are asking you to make a brief statement during the public comment portion of the meeting.
Call-in number: 1 (650) 479-3208 Access code: 644 311 087
Comment period slated for 4:15, but call a few minutes early just in case.
Here are the basics. There are several problems with the DEP's EJ policy, but most of them are moot issues for Pennsylvanians affected by shale gas development. That's because the agency's list of "trigger permits" omits all but a couple related to shale gas development. A "trigger permit" is one that automatically triggers an environmental justice process when it is received by the DEP.
Secretary McDonnell blames the omission on the 45-day review timeline for drilling permits. In February of this year, Governor Wolf announced that he wanted to speed up the process. "Working with Sec. McDonnell, I tasked DEP with looking at ways to reduce backlogs and wait times responsibly, so that we could meet the ambitious goals of the Permit Decision Guarantee, while providing even stronger environmental protections for our citizens," said Governor Wolf. "Secretary McDonnell and his team have implemented a number of changes and the results have been remarkable."
Listening sessions conducted by the EJ team had ended more than half a year earlier and the current public comment period was five months away. Presumably, the agency was in the process of drafting the revisions based on the input it had received at the very time it was working with the Governor to make changes to "meet the ambitious goals of the Permit Decision Guarantee" rather than challenge the wisdom of an arbitrary guarantee that precludes environmental justice reviews that affect many communities. In fact, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that the DEP had "granted permits to more than 500 oil and gas operations in EJ communities by 2015, none of which triggered enhanced review."
The other obvious problem with Secretary McDonnell's explanation for why shale gas development is omitted is that many permits pertaining to shale gas activities other than drilling are not subject to the same 45-day deadline, including those related to pipelines and compressor stations.
We learned on Friday that there are no public hearings planned for this policy review. The regular monthly meeting of the EJ board may well be the only time we get to provide verbal comments. A written comment period ends the same day. We think that's wrong. We want the DEP to schedule hearings on this important policy revision.
Please speak out on Tuesday!
Tell the DEP cutting out fracked communities is unacceptable.
Tell the DEP to expand the list of "trigger permits".
Tell the DEP you want all Pennsylvanians to have an opportunity to comment and that the best way to ensure maximum participation is to add public hearings across the state.
For more on the revisions to the policy and information on how to submit written comments, visit the DEP's website.
CHRONOLOGY OF BETTER PATH COALITION ACTIONS
DECEMBER 2022 - Worth Protecting
NOVEMBER 6, 2018 - Petition at the Polls
NOVEMBER 1, 2018 - Poor People's Campaign Public Hearing
OCTOBER 21 - 26, 2018 - UNFRACTURED PA Tour with Sandra Steingraber & Chanda Chevannes
OCTOBER 2018 - Stop SB652 Campaign
SEPTEMBER 10, 2018 - Tourism Letter Submission to Governor Wolf
AUGUST 28, 2018 - Environmental Justice Comment and Letter Submission to DEP
AUGUST 20, 2018 - The Truth Has Changed Performance at West Chester University
JULY 4, 2018 - Parks Not Pipelines Action at Marsh Creek State Park
JUNE 27, 2018 - Connecting the Dots with Little Sis Training Webinar
JUNE 9, 2018 - UNFRACTURED Screening with Sandra Steingraber after No Mariner East Rally
JUNE 4, 2018 - Poor People's Campaign Rally and Action in Harrisburg
MAY 23, 2018 - PA Fracking Impacts Campaign Kick-Off Press Call and Action at Wolf Fundraiser
MAY 3, 2018 - Better Path Coalition Kick-Off Call
MAY 2, 2018 - Wolf Letter Resubmission with over 1,000 Signers
APRIL 13, 2018 - We Choose a Better Path Rally