Pennsylvania’s new auditor general, Eugene DePasquale, will conduct a performance audit of the Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) water testing and waste disposal programs to assess their effectiveness in regulating shale gas development.

DePasquale, a former member of the state House of Representatives (D-York), was sworn in Tuesday. That same day, he sent a letter to DEP Secretary Michael Krancer outlining his plans for the audit, which would cover the DEP’s programs from 2009 to 2012. An initial meeting is planned for next week.

“Please know that we intend for this engagement to be a constructive one whereby all entities work together to identify any problems, concerns and solutions, as well as any positive findings related to our audit objectives,” DePasquale said.

The new auditor general said he wants to assess the systems and procedures the DEP uses for water testing, screening and reporting, and how the agency responds to incidents of water contamination. On waste disposal, DePasquale wants to look at the agency’s systems and procedures for testing, tracking, treating, disposal, data collection and analysis, reuse and recycling and reporting. The audit will also analyze how the DEP responds to contamination complaints.

“We look forward to assisting and working with the auditor general and his staff to demonstrate how we are doing our job well to protect our water resources,” DEP spokesman Kevin Sunday told NGI’s Shale Daily on Thursday. He added that Pennsylvania “is a national leader in protecting our environment and ensuring that our natural resources are developed responsibly.

“DEP’s more than 2,600 men and women work hard at protecting Pennsylvania’s environment and providing sound, fact-based, lawful regulation of all of our job-producing industries…DEP is well versed and experienced at protecting the state’s waters and that is a priority for the [Gov. Tom] Corbett administration, DEP and all of its hard working employees.”

While in the House of Representatives, DePasquale voted against Act 13, the state’s omnibus Marcellus Shale law (see Shale Daily, Feb. 9, 2012). According to reports, during his campaign for auditor general, DePasquale promised to conduct a performance audit of the DEP’s water testing and waste disposal programs.