Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale just released audits of the SRBC and DRBC, giving the latter a total white wash and ignoring the real issues.
The Pennsylvania Auditor General just released his audits of the Susquehanna River Basin Commission (SRBC) and Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC). The former uncovered some sloppy spending habits and a few other things but the DRBC audit was a joke, a total whitewash of the agency, even promoting the idea the Commonwealth should paying more than it has in recent years to support this corrupt agency. The citizenry of the watershed deserved better.
The DRBC audit can be found here, but it’s hardly worth your time to read it, as it addresses none of the real issues. It focuses largely on the lack of up to date cooperation agreements between the Pennsylvania DEP and the DRBC and the status of funding by the parties to the Compact. This is how a whitewash is done. It’s not the questions asked or the answers that are critical but, rather, the questions that are never asked.
Here are some of those questions that should have been asked and I suggested here:
- Why have both river basin commissions been accumulating cash at a rapid rate, and yet demand ever more fees from ever more parties for ever more things?
- Why do both river basin commissions have tens of millions of dollars sitting in accounts not specifically reserved for capital expenditures?
- Why have other states and the Federal government arbitrarily reduced their contributions for years while Pennsylvania, until relatively recently, kept paying its designated share?
- Why should Pennsylvania pay a dime to these river basin commissions when they’re sitting on piles of unreserved cash?
- Why does DRBC see no conflict of interest and no problem with accepting gas drilling related grant funding from a private special interest foundation that was simultaneously funding an anti-gas advocacy group suing the agency?
- Why did the DRBC Executive Director saw no problem accepting a board position and later a job from an entity funded by that same special interest foundation?
- Why are there no conflict of interest or ethics policies at these river basin commissions that would prohibit such conflicts in interest or actions that could be perceived as such?
- Why are there no standards requiring the river basin commissions to respect the sovereignty of states and that of the Federal government with respect to rule-making on matters where these entities have already occupied the field of regulation?
- Why is there no mandate on these river basin commissions to conduct benefit/cost analyses on their proposed regulations before enacting the same; a process that would ensure the impacts on communities, businesses and landowners are at least considered?
- Why is there no procedure for regular oversight of the regulatory activities of the river basin commissions, such that the agencies cannot simply create work for themselves and charge fees for it; oversight to ensure the agencies stay in their lanes?
While my Questions No. 1 and No. 3 got some limited indirect attention, the rest were never touched at all. And, I now a couple more:
- Why is the DRBC hiding how much it’s paying out in legal fees?
- Why is the DRBC using an attorney, Kenneth Warren, who serves on the board of the Pinchot Institute, which is funded by this same William Penn Foundation also funding the DRBC-suing Delaware Riverkeeper and the Academy of Natural Sciences to which Carol Collier was given a golden parachute from her DRBC job?
No one should, and I’m certainly not, holding my breath for these answers. The Pennsylvania Auditor General missed a great opportunity. Or, did he choose to ignore it?
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