DEP secretary: Gas industry remains strong and safe

Rumors of the demise of the natural gas industry have apparently been greatly exaggerated.

The source of that information is none other than state Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Michael Krancer.

And Krancer has some facts to back up his observation. There were more than 20 new oil and gas permits in Lycoming County alone in the first month of 2013.

Krancer, in a recent visit to the Sun-Gazette, pointed out that the gas drilling industry may be suffering from a perception problem. There is not as much drilling going on because that’s already been done, so it looks as though the business has slowed more than it actually has.

The gas industry is cyclical and there was movement toward “wet” gas supplies in Ohio and West Virginia for much of last year. But Krancer joins a list of people familiar with the industry who believe Pennsylvania’s natural gas industry is poised for a strong year.

Krancer added that the thinking that the industry will thrive for generations in Pennsylvania remains accurate.

The other, more established perception of the natural gas industry is that it is environmentally unsafe.

To the contrary, Krancer said that the industry, as experience is being gained with new drilling technologies, is become safer and more efficient. Communication between the industry and the DEP also has improved, Krancer said, making inspections more fruitful.

Krancer emphasized “we don’t make deals with anyone” regarding enforcement but also emphasized that isn’t necessary because most gas drilling operators possess “a strong ethos toward environmental safety.”

That’s a lot of good news about the industry, which is important, because the natural gas industry is Pennsylvania’s strongest asset in any quest to become an economic leader in the nation.