Pennsylvania’s Auditor General and the Times – Demagoguery Incorporated

Auditor General - story by Jim WillisJim Willis
Editor & Publisher, Marcellus Drilling News (MDN)


Pennsylvania’s Auditor General is supposed to ensure accountability in state government, ensuring special interests don’t capture it, but Eugene DePasquale’s is the kind of windy special interest politician who managed to capture the state Democratic Party, until wiser party elders intervened.

Pennsylvania’s Auditor General, Eugene DePasquale, is an anti-drilling Democrat who took office in January 2013. On his very first day on the job he targeted the Marcellus Shale industry and the state Department of Environmental Protection (see Newly Elected PA Auditor General Targets DEP First Day on Job). DePasquale wasted no time in issuing a letter to the DEP, telling them he was about to launch a year-long anal exam of the agency and its “protection” of PA’s water resources as relates to shale drilling. Mike Krancer was the Secretary of the DEP at the time and told DePasquale in so many words, “bring it on” (see PA Auditor General Targets State’s Marcellus Drilling Industry).

depasqualeDePasquale (see photo to right) has issued an–update? Guidance? Interim report? Helpful suggestions? Nope. He’s issued innuendo and unspecific rumors against the DEP to the conflicted and reliably anti-drilling editorial board at the Scranton Times-Tribune.

Here’s what he said to a group of sycophantic and unquestioning reporters yesterday–or rather what he didn’t say but insinuated…

An audit of the way the state Department of Environmental Protection protects water from pollution by Marcellus Shale natural gas drilling should be done by January, state Auditor General Eugene DePasquale said.

Meeting Thursday with reporters and a member of the editorial board at The Times-Tribune, DePasquale declined to say what his auditors are finding, but hinted at problems with the way the department is carrying out its duties.

“The only thing I could say is, it’s a good thing we’re doing the audit,” he said.

Eric Shirk, a spokesman for Gov. Tom Corbett, said the administration does not anticipate the finding of major problems and views the audit as an opportunity to showcase the progress made in protecting the environment from gas drilling pollution. He said the department doubled the number of inspections of oil and gas sites since last year.

“We’ve been taking our job very seriously â?¦ and we’re always looking for ways to improve,” Shirk said.

The highly anticipated audit, which will arrive just before the election campaign for governor heats up, is sure to draw a lot of attention from the Corbett administration, the gas industry, gas drilling opponents and the Democratic candidates for governor. Corbett is a Republican.

DePasquale met with the editorial board as part of an effort to keep the public updated on what he’s done since taking office in January.

He said he plans eventually to audit spending of the impact fee imposed by counties on gas drilling, but said it’s too early to do that now because much of the spending has not begun.*

How about some real reporting by real reporters for a change? The Times-Tribune ”reporters” let DePasquale sit there and say something like “it’s a good thing we’re doing the audit” and didn’t question it? They didn’t push back? They didn’t say, “Hey, are Pennsylvania residents in danger? Is the environment being harmed? Is the DEP being derelict in its responsibilities? You need to explain your statement or we won’t report it.” Nope. Nadda. Nothing. They just repeated an unspecific smear, meant to instill unsettling fear in the masses. That’s the good ole Scranton Times-Tribune.

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Now, back to lining the bird cage with our copy…

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