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Revolving Door Keeps Spinning for Former DEP Chief Michael Krancer

Susan Phillips / StateImpact Pennsylvania

While still heading the Department of Environmental Protection, Michael Krancer helped promote the economic benefits of Marcellus Shale development. Here he is in front of the Sunoco refinery in Marcus Hook, Delaware County last August. He now works for the industry as an attorney for Blank Rome in Philadelphia.

Under former Secretary Michael Krancer, the Department of Environmental Protection was not always the easiest place to get information about Marcellus Shale gas drilling.
But it appears Krancer is eager to talk about natural gas drilling now that he’s switched to the private sector.
While Krancer ran the DEP, right-to-know requests for inspectors’ notes about drilling-related water complaints were denied. Reporters inquiries to speak directly to DEP field officers were rebuffed because “they were too busy” to talk.  Calls to DEP staffers at home was decried as “unacceptable” and “unprofessional” behavior.
Sometimes days would pass before requests for comments or information about drilling-related spills and accidents got answered by DEP.
One memorable example was a June 19 incident in Tioga County about 35 miles from Williamsport. After an anonymous tipster reported a well leak, DEP at first could provide no information in response to StateImpact’s inquiries.
Scott Detrow, then a StateImpact reporter, hustled to the scene and found a 30-foot geyser of gas and water that had been spraying out of the ground for more than a week in Union Township, Tioga County. In fact, Shell, the company drilling nearby that caused the blow-out, had temporarily evacuated nearby residents. Here’s more from Scott’s report:

The geyser wasn’t the only way the methane leak manifested itself. At the Ralston Hunting Club, a water well inside a cabin overflowed, flooding the building. Methane bubbled out from a nearby creek, as well. Shell asked the handful of nearby landowners to temporarily evacuate their homes while the company worked with well control specialists, a fire department and state environmental regulators to bring the leak under control.

Eventually, once Scott was on the scene, DEP did answer his questions.  But the tone at the top during Krancer’s tenure at DEP seemed to regard media questions as intrusive and irksome.
But Krancer has moved on, or moved back, to a position with the major Philadelphia law firm of Blank Rome, where he has been promoted as someone who can now help industry navigate state and federal regulatory issues. The Pennsylvania Ethics law prevents former public officials like Krancer from representing clients before their former governmental employer, in this case the DEP. But there appears to be an exception made for attorneys.
So it happened that last week, StateImpact Pennsylvania received an email from a public relations firm offering up Krancer for an interview. The New York firm, Greentarget, specializes in promoting law firms.  Here’s the email:

Hi Susan,
As you may be aware, Michael Krancer, former Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) under Governor Tom Corbett, has recently joined Blank Rome to head its Energy, Petrochemical & Natural Resources Practice to support current and potential upstream/midstream/downstream client companies looking to benefit from Pennsylvania’s abundant natural gas reserves.
Michael offers access to regional policy makers that other firms do not have, as well as NERC, FERC, EPA and other policy making entities. He is sought-after for his proven understanding of environmental regulation, governance and all other issues relative to optimizing regional energy supplies, and can speak to a track record of private and public success for creating new opportunities for business expansion and investment.
Michael would be willing to speak on one of the following topics:
•             PA’s natural gas renaissance and what it means geo-politically
•             Fracking: Why regulation should be left to the states
•             How LNG exports should evolve
Are you interested in speaking to Michael? If so, I can arrange an interview with him.
Thanks so much.
Samuel Eisele
Junior Associate
215 Lexington Ave.
17th Floor
New York, NY 10016

I replied to Greentarget that I had already spoken to Krancer several times about the topics offered up. But I said I would like to speak to him about the meaning of the following sentence:

“Michael offers access to regional policy makers that other firms do not have, as well as NERC, FERC, EPA and other policy making entities.”

So far, we haven’t heard back.

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