The resignation of Department of Environmental Protection’s Secretary Krancer reveals a crucial state agency in crisis. His interim replacement, Chris Abruzzo, has absolutely no environmental background and is completely unqualified for the position. He is currently a deputy chief of staff in the governor’s office and before that he served in the Attorney General’s office supervising the Drug Strike Force section.
It is telling that there is no one at DEP to take over the agency. Morale at DEP is at devastatingly low levels. Corbett’s DEP has failed to adequately regulate gas drilling and taken combative stances when citizens present the agency with legitimate concerns and problems. The agency has been hostile to renewable energy and has failed to take action to clean up pollution in the Susquehanna River.
DEP’s ability to carry out its mission of protecting public health and the environment has been severely compromised by budget cuts to an already spare budget. But Corbett’s ideological opposition to adequate government funding also prevented DEP from moving forward with increases to fees for reviewing permit applications.
Corbett clings to the old, disproven ideology that we cannot have both a good economy and a good environment. Unless he changes that wrong-headed idea, his DEP will fail to take advantage of ways to both grow the economy and clean up the environment, especially when it comes to growing our wind and solar industries. Pennsylvania’s rising unemployment rate is a glaring example of failure of this ideology – we are only one of seven states with a rising unemployment rate – our rate climbed from 7.6 percent in January 2012 to 8.2 percent in January 2013.
We wish Secretary Krancer well in his new endeavor, but we do not anticipate a change in DEP’s course as long as Governor Corbett fails to understand that we need a healthy environment to grow a healthy economy.