GOP Victory Could Boost Natural Gas Drilling

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Without giving specifics, Corbett on Wednesday promised a "reasonable" regulatory stand that protects the environment. He will be able to appoint a new head of the Department of Environmental Protection, which under Rendell has tried to aggressively deal with the problems brought by the gas rush.

"I look at this as an industry that's going to be here long after all of us in the room are gone," Corbett said. "It is going to be a great industry and we need to develop it properly. We need to develop it protecting the environment and growing jobs in Pennsylvania."

Congress exempted fracking from federal clean water regulations in 2005, but some lawmakers have been pushing to undo that.

Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., sponsor of a measure that would subject fracking to regulation by the Environmental Protection Agency, predicts a bleaker landscape now for his bill.

"If anything, there are more votes against it," he said Tuesday.

Whether events ultimately unfold to the industry's liking remains to be seen.

The election doesn't affect a web of state and federal regulatory bodies that could stand in the way of drilling, industry analysts said. The EPA, for example, could try to regulate fracking without congressional approval.

Rolf Hanson of the Associated Petroleum Industries of Pennsylvania, an industry lobbying group, said: "I for sure don't see this as, 'All of a sudden things are going to be rosy for the industry and we're going to get a free pass.'"

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