IN HIS recent letter, John Hanger, state environment secretary, is correct when he says the public needs accurate information about natural-gas drilling, but he is wrong in just about everything else he says.

Those of us in southwestern Pennsylvania are especially concerned about the "fish kill" in Dunkard Creek. I use quotation marks because all aquatic life in the stream was destroyed, including salamanders, crayfish and two types of mussels that are currently candidates for the endangered-species list.

Mr. Hanger does not mention Dunkard. Yet water from Marcellus and other gas drilling is the principal culprit in this case. Mr. Hanger's DEP has been busy blaming West Virginia and the Environmental Protection Agency for the disaster but has not taken the steps it could take to stop discharges.

Instead, Mr. Hanger uses his commentary to promote Marcellus Shale development. Why? Because it will help the Rendell administration pretend to balance the budget.

Marcellus Shale has underlain Pennsylvania for hundreds of millions of years. It is not going to disappear overnight.

If it is to be an economic boon to Pennsylvania, there is no rush. Let Mr. Hanger develop the strategies, treatment infrastructure and enforcement programs before we rush pell-mell to profit.

Raina Rippel, Director

Center for Coalfield Justice

Washington, Pa.