DEP has duty to demand, provide accurate gas data
After several experts on gas production complained this year that the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection's website included inaccurate production data, the agency leaped into action.
It didn't switch from biannual to monthly reporting, as required of the industry in most other states. It didn't demand accurate data from gas drillers, as required by Pennsylvania law, even though the industry itself and investors use such statistics in the course of business.
Instead, the DEP said "never mind." It posted a disclaimer on its website.
"While the Oil and Gas Act requires accurate and on-time data reporting by producers, and the producers and DEP endeavor to correct any errors discovered after the data is posted, DEP makes no claims, promises or guarantees regarding the accuracy, completeness or timeliness of the operators' data that DEP is required to post," the disclaimer states.
Then, in order to get to the actual data on the site, people attempting to access it must click "Agree" to the following:
"DEP expressly disclaims any liability for errors or omissions related to the production data contained within these reports. No warranty of any kind is given by DEP with respect to the production data contained within these reports posted on its website."
If the DEP can't switch to monthly reporting on its own, the state Legislature should mandate it.
Lawmakers also should devise meaningful penalties for producers who post inaccurate data, so that the DEP will be armed with something other than a disclaimer in a revived effort to provide the public with accurate drilling data.