Krancer-Gate: PA DEP Smoke Screening Marcellus Shale Water Tests

What will it take for Michael Krancer and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection to be criticized  nationally for their dreadful response to the Marcellus Shale Development?  Will it take more homeowner buyouts because their land was contaminated by the gas industry – as is shown on the “MLS from Hell” Facebook page?  Or will the tipping point come from today’s Shale Reporter article “DEP Shelves More Stringent Water Test,” which revealed that the DEP has not been using appropriate water testing in the Marcellus Shale?

For most of Micheal Krancer’s term as DEP Secretary, he has spent more time attacking the Environmental Protection Agency than caring about the welfare of those living in the Shale Country.  After a New York Times article “Regulation Lax as Gas Wells’ Tainted Water Hits Rivers” prompted the EPA to investigate the PA DEP in February 2011,  Krancer defended the DEP by telling EPA Region Manager Shawn Garvin: “We are guided by sound science and the facts…Unfortunately, your letter, along with the recent New York Times articles, overlooks DEP’s strong and ongoing efforts to protect the environment and public health.”  Krancer’s most notable, and arrogant, response to the EPA came in January 2012 when he criticized Lisa Jackson for the EPA’s findings in Pavilion, Wyoming.  The EPA revealed that the natural gas industry was responsible for water contamination in Wyoming, but Krancer took sides with the gas industry and wrote:

“We, in Pennsylvania, would like to see EPA’s efforts geared toward a cooperative, science-based, and peer-reviewed analysis. I have read Governor Mead’s letter to you dated December 20, 2011, regarding the technical, scientific, and cooperative shortcomings of EPA’s activities with respect to Pavilion but there is no need to further discuss those issues in this letter. Suffice it to say, we hope that EPA’s efforts in Pennsylvania are not marked by the same rush to conclusions and other deficiencies as occurred at Pavilion. Like Governor Mead, I ask for your commitment that EPA will cooperate with Pennsylvania’s experts in this process. I also ask for a full and candid exchange of information as between EPA and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and that your efforts be guided by sound science and the law instead of emotion and publicity.

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. 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.”

In late 2012, State Representative Jesse White discovered that the DEP used an outdated testing method in a Marcellus Shale pollution case.  The DEP used Code 942 over Code 946.  Code 942 was developed in 1991, and allows the DEP to test for 24 pollutants, but only lists 8. Code 942 lists “barium, calcium, iron, potassium, magnesium, manganese, sodium and strontium,” but omits “silver, aluminum, beryllium, cadmium, cobalt, chromium, copper, nickel, silicon, lithium, molybdenum, tin, titanium, vanadium  zinc and boron.”  Code 946 was developed in 2010, and adds parameters for “arsenic, zinc, lithium, selenium, total suspended solids, sulfate and turbidity.”  During that time, Representative White discovered that this happened twice in a Washington County case, but today’s report that this scandal has taken on a whole new light.
On Shale Reporter this morning, Rachel Morgan revealed that the DEP has a more stringent Suit Code, Code 944, but it has never been used in any testing.  Code 944 (“Marcellus Inorganic Survey in DEP data”) was “developed in 2008, two years before the creation of Suite Code 946, which tests for only 23 contaminants, 22 fewer chemicals.”  According to the article, Code 944 – the unused code – test for the following contaminants that are not included in the other two codes: “nitrate and nitrite, phosphorus, carbon, cyanide (distilled and weak acid dissociable), sulfide, beryllium, boron, fluoride, cadmium, chromium, cobalt, copper, lead, thallium, molybdenum, silver, antimony, tin, titanium, phenols and mercury.”  The author also mentions that Code 942 (the older method) and Code 946 were used 300 and 210 times from 2010-2012, while Code 944 was not used at all during that time period.

942 by marcellusinformation

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About Sean Kitchen 681 Articles
Contributor and Assistant Editor for the Raging Chicken Press. Stationed in Harrisburg covering politics in the capitol. You can send tips to or reach me on twitter at @RCPress_Sean!
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1 Comment on Krancer-Gate: PA DEP Smoke Screening Marcellus Shale Water Tests

  1. PA DEP’s convolution over water tests reporting seems criminal to me. They’re resting on technicalities and monkeying around with suite codes, and allowing people to be poisoned. All to “get gas done,” I suppose.

    But what about the water? A precious, public resource is being destroyed, access is being staked like a claim, while Krancer quarterbacks for gas, biting his thumb at the EPA and running out the ecological clock. The Gas Industry may appear to win, but it’s not a game, and it’s really only private water companies like AquaAmerica who will profit.

    Pennsylvania and our country deserve better.

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