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Pennsylvania’s Governor-Elect Nominates Insiders for Top Environmental Posts

New faces will oversee the expanding gas drilling industry in Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale.

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Pennsylvania Gov.-Elect Tom Corbett announced his appointments for the top energy and environmental positions this week. (PennStateLive/Flickr)

3:05 p.m.: This post has been updated to reflect a response from the Marcellus Shale Coalition.

Pennsylvania's incoming governor announced his appointments for the top energy and environmental positions this week, naming four men experienced with the state's legislative and administrative process to oversee the growing natural gas industry and the implementation of new regulations governing how the industry drills its wells and disposes of its wastewater.

To head the Department of Environmental Protection, Gov.-Elect Tom Corbett, a Republican, named a judge who has served on a state environmental court for both Democratic and Republican governors. Michael Krancer, whose appointment requires approval by the state senate, is seen as an uncontroversial choice by environmental groups and the industry.

David Masur, director of PennEnvironment, an environmental group, said he is "reservedly optimistic" about Krancer.

"He's the face of the environment for the Corbett administration," he said, "but he only does what his boss tells him to."

Corbett, who is currently Pennsylvania's attorney general, has come out against a proposed gas-extraction tax on the industry. And during his campaign, Corbett said that the DEP has lost its way in recent years, a time when the department has pushed more stringent regulation of the gas industry in the face of criticism that oversight was too lax.

"I will direct the Department of Environmental Protection to serve as a partner with Pennsylvania businesses, communities and local governments," Corbett says on his website. "It should return to its core mission protecting the environment based on sound science."

Companies associated with drilling in the Marcellus Shale contributed more than $800,000 to Corbett over the last few years, compared to just over $100,000 given to his Democratic opponent, according to the website Marcellus Money, which is run by Pennsylvania Common Cause and Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania.

Corbett selected Patrick Henderson for a newly created Cabinet-level position to coordinate energy issues. Henderson is currently the director of the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, which is chaired by Sen. Mary Jo White, who has supported expanding drilling operations and resisted some of the stricter regulations of the industry.

Corbett's transition team did not immediately return requests for comment, but his website describes the position Henderson would hold as a "senior advisor" who "will ensure the execution of policy in the best interest of our energy and environmental needs."

The other nominees to DEP positions include John Hines, who is being promoted from within the department, and Jeff Logan, who served under former Gov. Tom Ridge.

The Marcellus Shale Coalition, an industry group, issued a statement praising the nominees and their "proven track records" of protecting the environment while promoting job growth.

Like many other states, Pennsylvania faces a multibillion dollar budget deficit, and it's unclear to what extent this may affect the DEP's staffing. The department has quadrupled its enforcement staff in recent years, despite overall staff cuts at the DEP, but the enforcement staff is still struggling to keep up with the booming industry. We've been covering the expanding natural gas industry for the past couple of years, and drilling in Pennsylvania's share of the Marcellus Shale formation has grown tremendously over that period, with some 1,400 wells drilled last year, up from 210 in 2008.

While environmental groups have generally expressed hope about the nominees, Masur questioned how effective they will be in the face of the new governor's close relationship with the drilling industry.

"How do you go out after aggressive enforcement against an industrial sector that gave a lot of money to your boss?" Masur said. "The proof is in the pudding and we just won't know till they're in their jobs."

Parallel Foreclosure

Jan. 13, 2011, 12:13 p.m.

I had wanted to share a story that is going on in Pennsylvania that I thought ProPublica might be interested in. I don’t know if it relates to this article on any level or not other than the judges reside in Pennsylvania, but it concerns the Federal Hobbs Act and whether or not promising kickbacks if elected qualifies as a federal hobbs act violation since the alleged offenders were not actually elected yet.

http://www.wallstreetchange.blogspot.com/2011/01/federal-hobbs-act-challenged-by-several.html

Another bad move for the citizens that live around the drilling.
Resisting a tax on the gas and taking $800,000.00
from the gas companies. Rather blatent.
With govt. like this who needs enemies?

David Masur should wake up - he’s about to be rolled.

Look across the River at NJ Gov. Christie to see the steam roller that’s coming - for details, seee:

http://www.wolfenotes.com/2010/12/a-year-when-slogans-masked-policy-red-tape-commmon-sense-regulation-dep-transformation/

This quote in the article you linked to sounds not only overly optimistic, but down right delusional:

“Judge Krancer brings an unparalleled knowledge of environmental laws and regulations and can be the ‘cop on the beat’ that Pennsylvania citizens need,” said PennFuture CEO Jan Jarrett

On what basis is this praise warranted?

I read the regualtroy reform agenda and it sounds as bad as NJ Gov. Chrisite, whose adminsitration I am following closely.

The citizens of Pennsylvania voted for the Governor they want, hopefully he will provide them with the protections they need. If things do not turn out as well as they hoped, they have a few years to come up with a new plan.

Propublica,

It would be great if you did an investigative piece on how fracking has impacted the economies of the states that have been using this technique for a while (apologies if you already have, but I don’t recall any).

Thanks for your journalistic work.

...“If things do not turn out as well as they hoped, they have a few years to come up with a new plan.”

Perhaps, but by then it could be too late.  The gas drilling industry cares little about what happens to the ground water once the contracts have been signed.  We had better do more than hope.

I agree with Paul Joseph ... It will be too late. Once the water is polluted it is too late.Air pollution is another issue, compressor stations, large pits to bury drill bit shavings, frac pits lined with heavy plastic (duh) filled with poisoned liquid, wells contanminated, pipelines, yada ,yada, yada. My god wake up!!! We are moving after only being here one year. We really can’t take it. The fear of not being able to drink your water is over the top! Nobody where we are knows of even if they do cares.  This after coming here for the fresh air and beautiful country side. I was amazed that within a short distance we have a nuclear power plant,generation station ( the size of which I have never seen in my life time) four compressor stations, pig station, manufacturing plants on EPA toxic lists, a road that we didn’t realize is like the turnpike, pit for metal shavings….I am sure many more goodies. Going back to NJ :)

Governor Rendell said this???

“After I sign this order into effect, it should remain in place. The stewardship of the public’s forests demands no less,” added the Governor. “We simply cannot risk subjecting these sensitive and high-value tracts to the same kind of environmental accidents and mishaps that have happened on private lands elsewhere in the state because of the drilling industry’s poor practices.”

How can anyone in good conscience promote hydraulic fracturing until more studies have been done.  Poor Pa Poor Pa!!!  We all will be paying the price$$$

Congratulations, Pennsylvania. Now the rest of your godforsaken state can be just as toxic and unlivable as your disgusting Philly chemical/refinery corridor.

The foolish citizens of Pennsylvania elected Mr. Corbitt, a lifelong republican who was clearly in the pockets of big business. What did the votoers expect?  Corbett is under contract to the likes of Halliburton and others who are there to exploit Pennsylvania for all they can get, like the Goldman Sacks of natual resources. Rendell was at least interested, or appeared to be, in environmental issues, this guy makes Rendell look like a gas company executive. Money talks, the poor people of Northeastern Pennsylvan will just have to get sick and die. Maybe they can take a shower with bottled water and heat their homes through their water pipes. Good Luck, keep voting for Republicans. Northeastern Pennsylvania had “Cash for Kids” now theywill have “Cash for Gas”

The citizens of this state who elected Corbett are either those who are in the , ‘drill baby drill’ camp and who have no regard for anything going on except for potential royalties, or die-hard Republicans who live outside this area and are clueless. 

MOST of the citizens of PA I would wager don’t even know what Marcellus shale is….......................much less the devastation about to suffocate us ALL…and in two years?  Too late….the damage is being done ‘as we speak’

Corbett received, I believe, over $1,000.000 for his campaign.  Anybody wonder how he came to be such a gas industry supporter?  Hmmmmmmmmmm

AND let us never forget…....as so many seem to…......that we ALL breathe air and drink water and eat food grown in the ground…..........not only the ‘tree huggers’.  We all will be suffering from this new administration’s lack of vision….or sense.

Maria Coughlin

Jan. 15, 2011, 10:11 p.m.

How’s that “Hope and Change” working out for ya?

I voted for Mr. Corbett and hope he reduces the State

Government and also rolls back job killing

regulations. I hope all the cry babies that have there

money would shut up and help jobs return to the

USA. Time for those Global Warming chicken

little people to shut up and let people work for

a living. No jobs and this Country has no future.

If Glenn could learn his synonyms his arguments might have more effect, but I doubt it.  WW

Glen, people like you just vote for someone because they say somthing and you don’t do any research. corbett is a hypocrit and a good liar! He raised property taxes in Shaler twp. 20% when he was twp. commissioner.H e was quoted as saying “the constitution is a living document” meaning it dos’nt necessarly need to be followed as written. Took state pay raise and blasted his apponent who was blackmailed into voting for it, but did’nt accept it! ” There is no inherent right to local government” that’s what he said when he forced local townships into accepting the use of “Toxic sludge” from Waste Managment for the spreading on food crops, another top campaign contributor. It’s easy to see, all aside, any thing he says can’t be trusted and from his quotes he thinks he’s above state and federal law!

This article is part of an ongoing investigation:
Fracking

Fracking: Gas Drilling’s Environmental Threat

The promise of abundant natural gas is colliding with fears about water contamination.

The Story So Far

The country’s push to find clean domestic energy has zeroed in on natural gas, but cases of water contamination have raised serious questions about the primary drilling method being used. Vast deposits of natural gas, large enough to supply the country for decades, have brought a drilling boom stretching across 31 states. The drilling technique being used, called hydraulic fracturing, shoots water, sand and toxic chemicals into the ground to break up rock and release the gas.

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