The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

A Blessing Under Our Feet

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted November 3, 2011

That's how Pennsylvania's top environmental official responds when someone raises concerns about using hydraulic fracturing to produce natural gas from shale. The Erie Times-News reports:

Pennsylvania's top environmental enforcement official said some of the concerns raised about hydraulic fracturing and gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale leave him shaking his head. "I don't know where it's coming from," said Michael Krancer, secretary of the state Department of Environmental Protection. Krancer, who spoke Wednesday afternoon to about 100 members and guests of the Rotary Club of Erie, called the Marcellus Shale "a blessing under our feet if we do it right." It's up to DEP, he acknowledged, to make certain drilling is done correctly.

Pennsylvania is working on a number of initiatives to improve safety in Marcellus Shale drilling, including larger setbacks between natural gas wells and water wells, lifetime responsibility for the water quality of nearby wells by operators and increased bonding. More from the Times-News:

Krancer, who reminded his audience that he's a former judge and that his boss is a former prosecutor, said Pennsylvania has a strong interest in sorting out bad operators. "We have very high standards in Pennsylvania," he said. "We can't tolerate cheaters." Krancer made it clear, however, that he thinks many of the public's concerns are misplaced, citing a list of environmental groups and officials who have touted the safety of natural gas. He also cited a recent independent study by Pennsylvania State University that found that hydraulic fracturing - the process of using massive amounts of water and chemicals to fracture rock and release gas - had played no significant role in water contamination. Krancer said there's never been a documented case of groundwater contamination from the so-called fracking process.

Other key points from Krancer's speech:

  • With oil and natural gas companies paying more than $1 billion in taxes and $2.6 billion in royalties, he rejects creation of an extraction tax.
  • The DEP is not stretched too thinly to do its job. Krancer says the department's oil and gas section has doubled employment in recent years, funded by industry-paid fees.

"We can use gas in ways that will allow the United States to compete with China," he said. "It's here. We're not going to run out of it. It's clean, and it's renewable."

Natural gas - an abundant, clean-burning energy engine that is transforming communities in Pennsylvania and other states where state regulators like Krancer are working with industry to make sure it's done right.

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Mark Green joined API after a career in newspaper journalism, including 16 years as national editorial writer for The Oklahoman in the paper’s Washington bureau. Mark also was a reporter, copy editor and sports editor. He earned his journalism degree from the University of Oklahoma and master’s in journalism and public affairs from American University. He and his wife Pamela live in Occoquan, Va., where they enjoy their four grandchildren.