Environmentalists called it the largest environmental disaster of 2022, in the united states. They say the facility, operated by Equitrans, released a billion cubic feet of gas, into the atmosphere. The Pennsylvania department of environmental protection stepped in and issued violations, within weeks after it happened.
But now a settlement with the Pennsylvania environmental hearing board determined the DEP has no jurisdiction over the facility, and the leak. The DEP agreed and dropped the enforcement of violations, it issued in December. It says the jurisdiction of the facility falls under the federal department of transportation, and their pipeline safety division.
Equitrans spokesperson, Natalie Cox says that because of this stoppage the federal energy regulatory commission, along with the pipeline and hazardous materials safety administration, now have authority over this issue. “Equitrans appreciates the important work conducted by the PADEP to provide oversight of environmental protection in our commonwealth and will continue to coordinate with PADEP regarding environmental compliance matters.”
“This is a matter of federal law, and the only way to change that, is to change federal law. To say that states and locals have a role to play in protecting themselves from facilities like this. Until that change in federal law happens, we are going to be at the mercy of the federal government agencies and companies, to determine what they do when we have a massive leak like this, and how to protect the public and the environment.”