Monday, March 21, 2011

A profile of Pennsylvania's DEP chief, Michael Krancer

He likes to dig in and get at the facts on both sides of  controversial issues. He doesn't shy away from tough decisions and, in the past, he's sided both with and against the agency he now heads.

Michael Krancer, the new man in the high-profile position of Secretary of Pennsylvania's Department of Environmental Protection, also is the subject of a profile in Sunday's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Laura Olson, a reporter with the newspaper's Harrisburg Bureau, writes:
The 53-year-old Bryn Mawr lawyer comes to the agency at a pivotal time: Natural gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale has grown so quickly that the topic overshadows much of the department's other responsibilities. Discussions on how government should regulate the industry and manage its risks often can become heated and hyperbolic.
He also is working for a governor who has drawn skepticism from environmental advocates regarding his commitment to protection, in light of significant campaign contributions from gas drillers and his opposition to a severance tax. Mr. Krancer himself was at times harshly critical of the agency in his hearing board opinions.
Olson tells how Krancer, as a judge on the state's Environmental Hearing Board, which considers appeals on certain DEP decisions, had to rule on an appeal brought, in 2001, by The United Mine Workers. The union was challenging an exemption approved by the DEP regarding methane testing at 84 Mining Co.'s mine in South Strabane.The union said the exemption was unsafe, despite DEP's consent.

Normally, a hearing board judge would make a decision based solely on legal arguments from both sides. Not Krancer. Don Carmelite, Krancer's his first law clerk at the board recalls:

"The guy suited up in all the gear and got the training, and he walked around in a mine a mile below the surface, in thigh-high water. It was consistent with what he did to get it right."

The judge later sided with the miners' position, on a 3-2 decision.

Olson informs us that Krancer 's father is the Republican philanthropist Ronald Krancer. who has been a  major donor to both Mr. Governor Tom Corbett and his predecessor, Democrat Ed Rendell, and that he and is the nephew of the publisher Walter Annenberg.

A few other interesting insights (all from Gov. Corbett's website)::
  • Krancer was a litigation partner at the Dilworth and Blank Rome law firm in Philadelphia.  
  • He was a candidate (unsuccessfully) for the state's supreme court in 2007.
  • He was appointed to serve as an  Environmental Hearing Board by Republican Gov. Tom Ridge and later asked to return to the board by Gov. Ed Rendell, a Democrat.
  • Krancer serves on the Board of Directors of Inn Dwelling, a non-profit faith-based initiative corporation associated with St. Vincent de Paul Roman Catholic Church located in the Germantown section of Philadelphia. Its mission is capacity-building among disadvantaged families in the Germantown and Northeast sections of Philadelphia. 
  •  He is an avid student of Hebrew and Christian Biblical Canon and he has pursued undergraduate and graduate level coursework in theology and biblical studies and exegesis at Villanova University.
  • He is a student of naval history, especially naval aviation from its dawning through its heyday, the World War II Pacific Campaign.
  • He also is a Civil War reenactor.

Related:
New DEP pick says he will 'apply the law'
Michael Krancer gets environment committee support in Pa. Senate

PennFuture Welcomes Michael Krancer as Nominee for DEP Secretary


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