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Secretary Krancer leaving DEP to rejoin law firm

| Friday, March 22, 2013, 9:57 a.m.
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Mike Krancer, the head of Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection, will step down in April to rejoin the law firm Blank Rome LLP in Philadelphia.

HARRISBURG — Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Mike Krancer said Friday he's leaving Gov. Tom Corbett's Cabinet next month.

Krancer, 55, of Bryn Mawr in Montgomery County, said in an interview that the reason is simple: He made a decision as a father.

His two teenage daughters “may not admit it, but they need their dad at home,” said Krancer, who stays in a Harrisburg apartment during the week and commutes on weekends. “Anybody who is a parent can identify with it.”

He said he realizes his ninth and 11th graders will be gone “in the blink of an eye.”

Krancer is among several top Corbett appointees to step down in the middle of the governor's four-year term. Corbett faces re-election in 2014.

Recent departures include Department of Public Welfare Secretary Gary Alexander this month, Inspector General Kenya Mann Faulkner last month and Turnpike CEO Roger Nutt in October.

Krancer said, “There's no truth at all” to suggestions top appointees are abandoning Corbett because of his low poll numbers — 39 percent favorable, 44 percent unfavorable in a Qunnipiac University Poll last week.

“I think he (Corbett) actually has momentum in a positive direction,” said Krancer, citing House passage Thursday of a liquor privatization bill the governor pushed.

“There's a natural attrition with any agency as it moves along,” said Christopher Borick, a political science professor at Muhlenberg College. He said he didn't know whether the turnover was “exceptional” for a governor's staff.

Krancer, appointed in January 2011, is leaving April 15 to rejoin his former law firm, Blank Rome LLP, an international firm based in Philadelphia. Corbett's deputy chief of staff, E. Christopher Abruzzo, will become acting secretary.

“I am grateful for his service,'' Corbett said. “His impressive efforts at DEP have taken the agency back to basics, protecting the environment and making the permitting process more efficient.”

“We hope that Secretary Krancer's departure clears the way for a DEP leader who is committed to protecting the health of Pennsylvania's families and safeguarding our air, water and climate,” said Jeffrey Schmidt, director of the Pennsylvania chapter of the Sierra Club.

Rep. Jesse White, D-Cecil, said DEP's legacy under Krancer “will be one of controversy, political games and personal attacks, which have absolutely no place in such a critically important state agency.”

Eric Shirk, a deputy press secretary of Corbett's, said under Krancer's leadership DEP doubled inspections of oil and gas operations, created a division of the agency to handle such matters, levied the single-largest fine in DEP history and employed some of the most stringent environmental protections in the country.

Range Resources spokesman Matt Pitzarella said, “Secretary Krancer believed and demonstrated that shale isn't a choice between the economy or the environment, but that it's really one and the same.”

Krancer imposed high standards on the industry while “gas production soared resulting in more jobs, lower energy prices, greater tax revenue, and royalties for landowners,” Pitzarella said.

Brad Bumsted is state Capitol reporter for the Tribune-Review. He can be reached at 717-787-1405 and bbumsted@tribweb.com.

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