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Current, Former DEP Secretaries Joust over National Energy Policy

Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Secretary Michael Krancer argued in favor of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's energy policy at an energy summit in Pittsburgh on Monday, while former DEP chief John Hanger touted the Obama administration's energy platform.

Krancer's argument centered on tough criticisms of President Barack Obama's Environmental Protection Agency as overly controlling, offering instead an American energy policy based primarily upon state regulations of energy and environmental issues. Krancer said he prefers state oversight to "dictated, federalized regulation of energy development."

"I say the states have been, are doing, and will do a much better job regulating hydraulic fracturing than the federal government could ever do," said Krancer. "I will tell you that the state has forgotten more about hydraulic fracturing than the federal government will ever know."

The current DEP leader, serving in a Republican administration, listed off his qualms with the Obama administration's energy policy, which he called "fragmented" and "driven virtually solely by the EPA."

"A complete and shocking lack of respect for cooperative federalism and the states' role in environmental regulation and co-regulation," recounted Krancer. "An absolute rogue and hubristic Environmental Protection Agency."

Krancer also disparaged the president for his rejection of the Keystone XL Pipeline proposal, a massive oil pipeline that Krancer said would have created thousands of jobs and brought America easier access to Canadian oil.

Arguing on behalf of the president, former Rendell administration DEP Secretary John Hanger said the Obama administration has taken an "all of the above" approach to energy by promoting both traditional and green fuels.

Hanger pointed out that American crude oil production is at a fourteen-year high under the president's administration. He said dependence on foreign oil is at a twenty-year low, and the coal industry is growing. Hanger said he thinks it's false for Republicans to claim the president opposes fossil fuel development.

"Put aside the rhetoric of this 'war on coal, gas, and oil,' which is frankly just absolutely refuted by the facts," said Hanger. "Oil is up at record levels over the last fourteen years. Gas is up at record levels. There's more miners working on the job."

Hanger criticized Romney's energy policies as "backward-looking," particularly the Republican's opposition to a wind energy tax credit program.

"By promising to cut investments in clean energy, Governor Romney has pledged to pull the plug on the growing American solar and wind industries, threatening jobs and job creation, including right here in Pennsylvania," said Hanger.

Hanger claimed Romney would roll back EPA protections of the nation's natural resources.

"Romney has called the benefits of the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts 'imaginary,' and pledged to weaken their health and environmental protections," said Hanger. "Governor Romney has said he doesn't know if climate change is real, or what is causing it."

The two DEP leaders made their remarks at the 2012 Pennsylvania Energy and Manufacturing Summit, held at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Hall on Pittsburgh's South Side and hosted by the Consumer Energy Alliance.