DEP Chief Brought “Balanced Approach” to Environmental Oversight

Michael Krancer

Mike Krancer promised that as Governor Corbett’s Secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) he would support only those environmental policies based on “sound science.” His approach to environmental oversight at times put the Department at odds with the ever-overreaching federal EPA and some radical environmental groups, but he never backed down; and rightfully so.

“In his service at DEP, Mike Krancer gave Pennsylvania a balanced approach to environmental regulation that is based on sound science, cost-effective, and uniformly applied statewide,” said David N. Taylor, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Manufacturers Association. “This balanced approach has allowed Pennsylvania’s energy industry to grow, create jobs, bring economic recovery to rural areas, and pay royalties and leasing fees to landowners while still maintaining strong environmental protections.”

Governor Corbett announced on March 22 that Krancer, an attorney, would be returning to private practice on April 15. 

“Secretary Krancer has been an invaluable member of our team and I am grateful for his service,’’ the Governor said in a statement. “His impressive efforts at DEP have taken the agency back to basics, protecting the environment and making the permitting process more efficient.”

The Permit Review Process and Permit Decision Guarantee, the Governor referred to, brought timeliness and consistency to the permitting process. Krancer also oversaw the reorganization of the agency, which created an oil and gas deputate[CM1]  and improved consistency statewide in enforcing that industry’s regulations.

The Governor said that Krancer was also instrumental in facilitating new investments and potential investments around the state, including an effort to save three southeastern Pennsylvania refineries and attracting new environmentally responsible investors, employers, and projects.

“Serving Governor Corbett and DEP has been the greatest honor of my career,’’ Krancer said. “Pennsylvania is well on its way to becoming the focal point of an American energy revolution, and I am grateful to the Governor for giving me this role in assuring that natural gas and energy development happen in an environmentally sound and responsible manner.”

Krancer’s occasional clashes with the EPA promoted one business official to say, “He must be doing something right.”

In one instance, DEP finalized guidance on air quality permitting on gas processing and compressor stations, and other oil and gas operations. The EPA disagreed with what constitutes a single source emission, but Krancer cited a court suit in Pennsylvania’s favor.

In August, 2012 the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in Summit Petroleum Corp. v. EPA rejected a significant component of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) interpretation of its own regulations on what constitutes a single emission source under the Clean Air Act (CAA).

“Our guidance provides a common-sense approach to air aggregation, also known as single-source determinations, based on existing law,” Krancer said at the time. “Recently, the EPA’s misuse of the aggregation test for natural gas exploration, extraction and production earned the EPA a sharply worded rebuke from the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.”

Before becoming DEP Secretary, Krancer served as a judge on the state’s Environmental Hearing Board for 10 years, including four years as chief judge and chairman. He has also worked as an attorney for the Exelon Corp.

E. Christopher Abruzzo, deputy chief of staff for Governor Tom Corbett, will serve as acting secretary in Krancer’s absence. Abruzzo, who works closely with Krancer and the DEP staff in his position as deputy chief of staff, will hold both positions until the Governor names Krancer’s successor.