DEP Changes Policy On Gas Drilling Letters

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The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has changed its policy for water pollution cases that may be related to Marcellus Shale natural gas drilling.

That department administrators in Harrisburg now decide whether residential water users should receive letters notifying them about problems. In the past, field offices made that decision.

The policy was not publicly announced and was distributed in an internal DEP email on Sept. 14, the paper reports.

DEP spokesman Kevin Sunday told the paper that the change is a result of a legal ruling that found that sending a pollution determination letter is an action that deserves top-level review.

But critics say the policy could allow high-level DEP officials in Harrisburg to delay or not issue a letter.