StateImpact Pennsylvania – The Secretary of PA-DEP Speaks Out

by Duane Nichols on June 26, 2012

Michael Krancer, PA-DEP

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.

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