Will PA Merge DEP and DCNR to Oversee Marcellus Shale Drilling?

The rumor mill has been working overtime in Harrisburg, PA with talk that newly minted Gov. Tom Corbett is planning to merge two state agencies that oversee drilling in the Marcellus Shale into one. Corbett officials are trying to tamp down the rumors:

Corbett administration officials buried rumors Monday that a merger of two state agencies with oversight over Marcellus Shale drilling is in the works.

Budget Secretary Charles Zogby and gubernatorial spokesman Kevin Harley said there are no plans to merge the Department of Environmental Protection and Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

Talk about a merger has swept the Capitol particularly because Gov. Tom Corbett has yet to nominate a DCNR secretary, a sensitive position with responsibility for the leasing of state forest land for natural gas drilling.

“I don’t know there are any plans for that,” said Zogby in a high-profile talk before the Pennsylvania Press Club. “I think it’s more a case of finding the right person for a job.”

The governor is considering several candidates for the post, said Harley.

DEP and DCNR were carved out of the old Department of Environmental Resources 15 years ago by Gov. Tom Ridge.

Claiming to not know of any merger plans—even if it is the budget secretary—is hardly a strong denial. MDN expects the rumors to continue until either Gov. Corbett himself addresses the matter, or nominates a new secretary of DCNR.

*The Daily Review (Mar 1) – No plans for DCNR merger