StateImpact Pennsylvania is a collaboration between WITF in Harrisburg, WHYY in Philadelphia and National Public Radio. Reporters Scott Detrow and Susan Phillips cover the fiscal and environmental impact of the booming energy economy in PA, with a focus on Marcellus Shale drilling. You can read their reports on the Internet, and hear them on public radio stations across Pennsylvania.
Recently, they have reported on the public statements of Michael Krancer, the Secretary of the PA-DEP who replaced John Hanger after the current Governor was elected. The story that follows is particularly interesting as it has such current relevance to the extensive Marcellus drilling, fracking, water consumption and wastewater disposal now underway in Pennsylvania and West Virginia.
PA-DEP Chief Tells Environmentalists to Redo Their Math
Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Michael Krancer has sent a letter to the Natural Resources Defense Council, taking issue with a report the environmental group released in May. The report, “In Fracking’s Wake: New Rules are Needed to Protect Our Health and Environment from Contaminated Wastewater,” examines wastewater disposal methods used in the Marcellus Shale and urges states like Pennsylvania to strengthen regulations.
Krancer tells the NRDC that their report is “incorrect” and “inapplicable” to Pennsylvania.
“NRDC’s math is way off in terms of how much wastewater is being recycled by the shale gas industry, and the report does not accurately characterize the extent to which the regulations we have in place in this state are ensuring drilling proceeds safely and responsibly,” Krancer wrote in the letter. “As we move forward, it is crucial that debate on proper policy and regulation rest on a solid foundation of facts.”
Krancer plans to appear on a panel with an NRDC attorney on June 26th. The event in Hershey, Pa. is part of a gathering of the Mid-Atlantic Conference of Regulatory Utilities Commissioners.
Krancer also complained that the NRDC report did not detail Pennsylvania’s efforts to step up regulation and enforcement. In April, 2011, the DEP did ask drillers not to take anymore wastewater to treatment facilities ill-equipped to clean it up. In a press release, the DEP defended their attention to wastewater clean-up.
For the first six months of 2011, 1.977 million gallons of shale gas wastewater were reported to have been sent to “grandfathered” facilities while, for the second half of 2011, according to data reported by operators, that total was only 17,136 gallons, a 99-percent reduction.
Krancer also implied that the NRDC’s report is biased against the industry.
“I am aware of the NRDC’s longstanding opposition to natural gas extraction by hydraulic fracturing,” Krancer wrote. “I do hope that NRDC’s constitutional adversity to natural gas as a fuel will not prevent open-minded discussion and fair fact finding.”
Krancer suggested to NRDC’s researchers and president that they read recent articles on the relationship of natural gas production to the reduction in carbon emissions. In a digital age full of fleeting tweets and perfunctory emails, Secretary Krancer continues to embrace the epistolary tradition. To read some of his blistering letters to the EPA, click here.