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NBC says Pennsylvania DEP "rubber stamps" Marcellus drilling permits

Looks like the Pennsylvania DEP spends A WHOLE 35 MINUTES on applications to drill the marcellus shale, such a short review that NBC calls it "rubber stamping".

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/42574488/ns/us_news-environment/

Pennsylvania environmental regulators say they spend as little as 35 minutes reviewing each of the thousands of applications for natural gas well permits they get each year from drillers intent on tapping the state's lucrative and vast Marcellus Shale reserves.

And the regulators say they do not give any additional scrutiny to requests to drill near high-quality streams and rivers even though the waterways are protected by state and federal law.

Staffers in the state Department of Environmental Protection testified behind closed doors last month as part of a lawsuit filed by residents and environmental groups over a permit that DEP issued for an exploratory gas well in northeastern Pennsylvania, less than a half-mile from the Delaware River and about 300 feet from a pristine stream.

Their statements, obtained by The Associated Press, call into question whether regulators are overburdened and merely rubber-stamping permit applications during the unprecedented drilling boom that has turned Pennsylvania into a major player in the natural gas market, while also raising fears about polluted aquifers and air.

The agency has denied few requests to drill in the Marcellus Shale formation, the world's second-largest gas field. Of the 7,019 applications that DEP has processed since 2005, only 31 have been rejected — less than one-half of one percent.

"Even those of us who are skeptics of the DEP, I think we all want to assume that they're doing the basics. And