Friday, October 9, 2015

River Dance

Environmentalists attack state & Corbett then back off on same day state issues huge fine on gas-drilling company.

River Dance


(A brief discussion twixt Baer & Baer's editor, a.k.a. BE)

JB: Boy, the timing and follow-through of some environmental groups could use a little tweaking.

BE: Explain.

JB: Yesterday, the national group American Rivers and the state chapter of the Sierra Club held a news conference naming the Susquehanna River the "most endangered river in the nation" and blamed it on Pennsylvania's natural gas drilling.

BE: And, let me guess, tore into the natural gas drillers' favorite charity, Tom Corbett?

JB: Pretty much. The American Rivers statement refers to "poorly regulated gas drilling in Pennsylvania," and the Sierra Club, I guess since it knows Corbett better, went further: "We have just learned that DEP (state Department of Environmental Protection) enforcement actions have significantly declined since Gov. Corbett took office."

BE: Bada-Bing!

JB: Except that within maybe an hour, the DEP announced fining one of the biggest drillers in the state, Chesapeake Energy, more than $1 million.

BE: Ooops. Kinda takes the air out of that "significant" decline in enforcement. Think Corbett planned it that way?

JB: Could be. Or that crafty lieutenant governor of his, that Cawley guy. Remember, Cawley heads Corbett's Marcellus Shale Commission and he WAS "acting governor" for a few hours this week while Corbett was having back surgery in Pittsburgh.

BE: So it could have all been planned.

JB: There's more. After taking a pie in the face on their lax enforcement argument, the green guys also took one from DEP and then took a back step.

BE: How so?

JB: Well their clear message of the day was that the fracking process used in drilling for gas is poisoning the river with all kinds of chemicals.

BE: Right.

JB: But DEP issued a statement saying there's no evidence of fracked water entering the Susquehanna and noting that water sampling across the state, including in the Susquehanna, shows no levels of concern for any contaminants.

BE: That's very different.

JB: And prompted American Rivers to tell Reuters news service that singling out the Susquehanna doesn't mean it's heavily polluted, it means it's under threat.

BE: Sort of a two-step, no?

JB: More like a river dance. Grrrr.




Daily News Political Columnist
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About this blog
John Baer has been covering politics and government for the Daily News since 1987. The National Journal in 2002 called Baer one of the country's top 10 political journalists outside Washington, saying Baer has, "the ability to take the skin off a politician without making it hurt too much." E-mail John at

John is the author of the book "On The Front Lines of Pennsylvania Politics: Twenty-Five Years of Keystone Reporting" (The History Press, 2012). Reach John at

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