Pennsylvania

Energy. Environment. Economy.

Krancer (Once Again) Tells Washington To “Back Off”

Scott Detrow / StateImpact Pennsylvania

DEP Secretary Michael Krancer.

Last month, StateImpact Pennsylvania detailed Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Michael Krancer’s adverse relationship with the federal government:

When the EPA began an inves­ti­ga­tion of whether or not the water in Dimock, Susque­hanna County was safe to drink, Krancer essen­tially told EPA Admin­is­tra­tor Lisa Jack­son she didn’t know what she was talk­ing about.

“We real­ize and rec­og­nize that EPA is very new to all of this and the EPA’s under­stand­ing of the facts and sci­ence behind this activ­ity is rudi­men­tary,” he wrote. “For­tu­nately, Penn­syl­va­nia is not new to all of this and we have a long his­tory of expe­ri­ence at over­see­ing and reg­u­lat­ing oil and nat­ural gas extrac­tion activ­i­ties in our state, includ­ing hydraulic fracturing.”

…Sit­ting in his Har­ris­burg office, Krancer said the EPA doesn’t always trust the state’s judg­ment.  “It’s amaz­ing to me some­times how stu­pid the EPA has dis­cov­ered we became as of Jan­u­ary 19, 2011,” he said, point­ing to the date the Repub­li­can Cor­bett Admin­is­tra­tion took con­trol. “And I con­tinue to say that. It is some­what frus­trat­ing because I do have 2,600 of the best experts on the planet…and I think some­times my fed­eral part­ners don’t rec­og­nize that.”

Yesterday, Krancer took that message directly to Washington, telling a House committee the federal government needs to “back off” of drilling oversight, and let states take the lead.

At one point, Democrat Gerry Connolly compared Krancer’s states-first stance to the arguments segregated states made against federal integration efforts in the 1950s. Politico reported on the exchange:

A heated exchange unfolded after Krancer stated his initial position on the federal government’s role.

“I don’t think the issue is whether the federal government has a role [to regulate fracking],” Krancer said. “The issue is whether the federal government should have a pre-emptive role. It should not. … The question is a fundamental one: Are you in a better place in Washington to tell us what to do?”

Connolly responded: “Those are the same kinds of arguments that were used for generations. If we were talking 40 to 50 years ago about Jim Crow laws in the South and civil rights, we wouldn’t have heard testimony at this table.”

This is the second time in eight months that Krancer has testified before a House panel. His November appearance had confrontational moments, too, though Jim Crow laws were never references.

Here’s some video from yesterday’s House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform hearing, which, it’s worth pointing out, certainly had a loaded agenda. The hearing was titled “Rhetoric vs. Reality, Part II: Assessing the Impact of New Federal Red Tape on Hydraulic Fracturing and American Energy Independence”

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