In the last ten years, Pennsylvania’s environmental inspection budget has been cut in half. Check it out.
Meanwhile, a gigantic dirty industry was gearing up to come here. Not only do the environmental inspectors not have enough staff, they just don’t have much in the way of resources to work with.
For example, if they actually levied a fine, the state would never have enough lawyers to defend their fines in court or to answer all the motions the industry would file to bog them down. So if they ever do take action, they negotiate it with industry. The state of the environmental inspection budget in this state is really a mess.
I hope you don’t like trout fishing, because there won’t be any left here in a generation.
When I first started working on this issue, I went to Susquehannah County and sat down with a woman named Victoria Switzer and made this video, her first hand account of living with Cabot Oil and Gas drilling all around her. Since then, over 20,000 people have watched it. If you want to see it, here you go:
By the 30th, the state should have a new budget. How much do you want to bet it won’t make PA’s environmental enforcement staff any stronger?
TV: You look very intent.
Guy: Yes. I am an Environmental Inspector. I keep an eye on the Hydraulic Frackers. Natural Gas Drillers are a shady lot. We have to watch them or they cheat.
TV: Oh. So, wouldn't you want to be out there, looking?
Guy: Our vehicle budget was cut. But you can bet that if I see them making any messes, I'll call them on it.
TV: Can you see any drillers.
Guy: No. Not really any gas around here.
TV: Oh. But if there were a spill, you could take a sample and test it?
Guy: No money for labs, either.
TV: But if there's an accident, you guys are trained to see if it's really toxic by sight, right?
Guy (grinning): No, of course not. That is impossible.
Panel 5. Camera pulls back. You can see two other inspectors staring out the window, doing the same thing as the one TV has been talking to.
Guy (putting on a hat): Well, better go. They have me on part time, now.
Panel 7. TV is alone in the window looking in the direction that the inspector left.