After being upbraided by Pennsylvania's top environmental official because their governor has put the brakes on natural-gas drilling in the region, Delaware residents can say with uncharacteristic pride that their state has gone to the dogs.

All it took was a few ill-chosen words from Michael Krancer, Gov. Corbett's secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection, who griped in early May about the First State's well-founded reluctance to lift the moratorium on drilling in the Delaware River watershed, which is home to 15 million people.

"Sometimes they smell like the tail of a dog," Krancer told an upstate builders' forum, a newspaper reported. "And it (Delaware) is shaped like a dog with a tail. This is the tail wagging the dog."

While Krancer declined to expand upon his remarks, presumably he was motivated by Delaware Gov. Jack Markell's announcement last fall that he had serious concerns about the safety risks from hydraulic fracturing.

Markell's reservations effectively halted moves by officials working through a multistate agency to craft guidelines to open counties near the Delaware River to drilling for natural gas.

As Markell rightly noted, moving ahead before the absolute safety of so-called fracking can be determined could threaten the drinking water of millions.

That this line of thinking wouldn't sit well with the Corbett administration should come as no surprise. Years into the gas boom, Corbett and fellow Republicans in the legislature last year only reluctantly imposed a low-ball fee on drillers, which they defend as necessary to keep the state attractive to the industry.

But with rigs all over the state, Markell's plea for a deliberative approach by the Delaware River Basin Commission to watershed drilling is the right course — even if it has one Corbett aide howling.