THE PUBLIC needs accurate information to understand how natural-gas drilling operations may affect Pennsylvania's water quality, but ProPublica's Oct. 16 article in the

Daily News

uses outdated and erroneous data, and out-of-context quotations from 6-month-old interviews to paint a very misleading picture.

DEP has taken steps to protect the state's waterways by doubling the number of oil and gas inspectors, inspecting all Marcellus Shale drilling sites, issuing violation notices when needed and shutting down operations when the law is repeatedly broken. There are also 13 monitors measuring total dissolved solids along the Monongahela River, another point ProPublica ignored.

DEP ordered municipal water-treatment facilities to cut the amount of drilling water discharged to the Mon by 95 percent in October 2008. In August, DEP unveiled regulations that will significantly reduce TDS discharges. These restrictions are being written into new permits now and will go into full effect statewide on Jan. 1, 2011.

Developing the Marcellus Shale is a huge opportunity for the state, but there are real challenges in doing it right. Relying on facts, sound practices and strong enforcement is key to addressing these challenges. The public can be assured that as more and more wells are drilled to capitalize on our abundant natural-gas resources, DEP will remain vigilant in protecting the state's rivers and streams.

John Hanger, Secretary

Department of Environmental Protection, Harrisburg, Pa.