Time and again, XTO assured the residents that they knew Franklin Township better than the folks that live there. Time and again, XTO, its apologists and sock puppets crowed about meeting or exceeding DEP's "stringent" regulations. Time and again, governmental bodies soothed the concerned residents, "DEP will take care of you."
XTO's permit application failed to address, didn't even fill out, important parts of the application. Other parts were merely boilerplate, failing to address facts on the ground. This put the Lake Arthur watershed in harm's way, it endangered the drinking water supply of Harmony Borough and the private wells of nearby residents. And how did DEP respond? It approved this woefully inadequate and dangerously deficient plan - living up to a moniker many of us now use to describe the agency, Don't Expect Protection.
Using thousands of dollars of their own money, Save Lake Arthur Watershed (SLAW), the aforementioned mighty band, mobilized. These, mostly retired, residents did what XTO and DEP should have done. They poured over maps, studied run-off patterns, read regulations, examined documents,read research, and implored company and government officials to pay attention. All to no avail. Finally, they filed suit - at great cost. And then, XTO and DEP took notice.
The system is broken. We, the residents of the Commonwealth, pay taxes to fund an agency that doesn't do its job. Worse, that agency is held up as an impediment to business and, contradictorily, a protector of the Commonwealth. It's neither. DEP is a sham. Residents of the Commonwealth shouldn't have to pay more money just so DEP will pay attention to us.
If XTO can't fill out paperwork properly, even when it knows that people are watching, how can we trust them to do infinitely more complex things when no one is watching? And how do we know that no one is watching? Because DEP rubber stamps documents that leave entire critical sections blank.
A while ago, a Butler County resident found that a driller located a well too close to his house (the driller was XTO). He told me that he notified DEP and was told, "XTO would never make a mistake like that." The homeowner insisted that DEP measure and, sure enough, the well was too close.
If XTO and DEP can't take care of the little things, they have no business conducting or regulating big and complex things.
What would we do without plucky residents?