Michael Krancer, Gov. Corbett’s chief environmental regulator, is pushing for fracking control in his state. Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is a technique for drilling to extract natural gas and has always been regulated by the state until recently. Krancer, a former corporate lawyer and environmental law judge who lives in Bryn Mawr said, “I’m not battling with people…I’m dialoguing with people.”
The EPA recently stepped in to conduct a study regarding fracking and the safety of drinking water. The EPA decided to step in after the residence in Dimock Pa. claimed fracking caused drinking water contamination issues. These residences were located near drill sites, which using fracking techniques to extract natural gas.
“We realize and recognize that EPA is very new to all of this and the EPA understands of the facts and science behind this activity is rudimentary,” Krancer wrote to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson this year.
David Masur, director of PennEnvironment, said Krancer’s approach is polarizing.
“I don’t think if I called the secretary a horse’s ass he would say, ‘Great, we’re starting a dialogue,’ ” said Masur. “He would be irate.”
Kate Sinding, council attorney, said to Krancer in a letter, that the DEP’s responsibility, as spelled out in its mission statement, is to protect Pennsylvania’s air, land and water from pollution and to provide for the health and safety of its citizens through a cleaner environment.
“Despite that obligation, nowhere in your three-page letter . . . did you even once acknowledge the need to further strengthen either federal or state laws and rules governing hydraulic fracturing practices or related gas- and oil-industry wastewater activities,” she wrote.
Krancer argues that Pennsylvania has done much to regulate the oil and gas industry, including upgrades to well construction standards and disposal methods. Shortly after Corett administration entered office a few changes were made to increase efficiency and safety of fracking:
- Stopped sending wastewater to municipal treatment plants, which can only dilute rather than remove pollutants and ended the discharge of inadequately treated wastewater into waterways.
- 90% of wastewater is being recycled
- Fracking sites have plastic-lined pits to capture wastewater for proper disposal
“I think we regulate the natural gas exploration and extraction industry just like we do every other industry in the state,” Krancer said. “I would not agree there is a bias one way or another.”