Appalachian Basin

Former DEP Chief: Marcellus Shale Delivers Economic, Environmental Benefits

Michael Krancer, former head of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP), was recently the luncheon keynote speaker at the Energy Inc. Conference in Pittsburgh.  Krancer separated his speech on natural gas development in Pennsylvania into three parts: good performance, geopolitical/economic issues, and the environment.

You can view the entire speech, as well as a question and answer portion, below:

While the entire speech was moving, especially for anyone following the shale revolution we are currently experiencing, there are a few parts that should be highlighted.

Good Performance

Krancer highlighted the great wok the natural gas industry is doing to develop resources responsibly.  The most telling example is the shift we’re seeing among those long opposed to this development:

“We used to have someone that called the Marcellus Shale Coalition the disciple of the devil, who now wants to engage with the industry, and that’s all good.” (5:30)

He is referring to a recent Associated Press story where former critics of development have started to embrace a more pragmatic approach of encouraging responsible development, and some have even signed leases with companies. Could that be because claims of impending catastrophe from hydraulic fracturing were exposed to be completely manufactured? As Krancer put it:

“Despite these shrill cries from movie stars, chefs and whoever else, the sky has not fallen.” (6:14)

The sky has not fallen, but the air we breathe has gotten better.  What we are seeing in major cities from Pittsburgh to New York City is that, because of natural gas, air quality has improved significantly.  Our latest video offers more insight into this phenomenon.

Geopolitical and Economic Issues

Anyone living in areas near natural gas development can walk down the street and see the positive economic impacts it’s having on communities — jobs, improved roads and new businesses.  But what is this energy renaissance doing on a global scale?  Krancer had this to say:

“The Middle East has been very relevant in every society since the Roman Empire 2,000 years. We stand at a point now where we can render the Middle East irrelevant, at least as an energy policy for America.” (15:05)

And based on the latest production data from the Marcellus Shale, Krancer is far from off base. As the Associated Press reported:

“If the Marcellus Shale region were a country, its natural gas production would rank eighth in the world. The Marcellus now produces more natural gas than Saudi Arabia, and that glut has led to wholesale prices here that are about one-quarter of those in Japan, for example.”

The Marcellus Shale region now ranks eighth in the world for natural gas production — let that sink in for a second.  Our parents and grandparents would have never dreamt of the United States producing this amount of energy.  In just a matter of years, thanks to shale, we’ve gone from energy scarcity to energy abundance.

What’s more is that Marcellus gas production is equivalent to about two million barrels of oil per day, which exceeds the oil production of many OPEC countries.


Krancer stressed that natural gas development is as much about the environment as it is about the economy:

“We should not give up the case for one minute that our energy renaissance is a very positive thing for the environment.”  (21:50)

Besides the economic benefits of developing our shale gas, we are also seeing tremendous environmental benefits.  In fact, natural gas has helped the United States slash its CO2 emissions to level unseen since the mid-1990s:

“U.S. energy-related carbon dioxide emissions declined by 3.8% in 2012 to reach the lowest level since 1994. Energy-related CO2 emissions are now down over 12% since the prerecession peak in 2007 — and remarkably, emissions have kept dropping even as the economy has continued to grow.”

Contrary to what critics of hydraulic fracturing have alleged, Krancer also described how natural gas can complement solar and wind development, rather than “crowding” them out:

“Natural gas in a natural partner for wind and solar. Wind has gone up because of natural gas, because of their intermittent nature. It needs a backup and the only thing that can cycle back on and off quick enough is natural gas. Instead of pinning the two against each other we should be thinking about them as a partner. (25:05)

Krancer’s former position as the head of Pennsylvania’s environmental regulatory body allowed him to provide very rational, fact based statements on how natural gas is—and isn’t—impacting the state. To quote him gain, “The sky has not fallen,” contrary to what critics have alleged.

It’s time to find rational answers in this energy debate and embrace technologies like hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling that are helping to improve both our economy and the environment.


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