Energy. Environment. Economy.

Corbett’s pick to run DEP does not view climate change as harmful

Governor Corbett has nominated his former Deputy Chief of Staff, Chris Abruzzo, to head the DEP.

Marie Cusick/ StateImpact Pennsylvania

Governor Corbett has nominated his former Deputy Chief of Staff, Chris Abruzzo, to head the DEP.

Governor Corbett’s pick to head the state Department of Environmental Protection says he is unaware climate change can be harmful.

Chris Abruzzo, who has been Acting DEP secretary since April, was speaking before the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee this morning about his nomination and was asked about his views on the topic.

“I’ve not read any scientific studies that would lead me to conclude there are adverse impacts to human beings, animals, or plant life at this small level of climate change,” Abruzzo said.

Abruzzo told the committee he does believe climate change is occurring and that it seems to be at least partially attributable to human factors, but he does not view it as harmful and sees no reason for Pennsylvania to adopt new policies to address it.

“I think Pennsylvania’s already doing at least its fair share, if not more than its fair share,” he said. “Climate change is a global issue.”

The committee approved his nomination with a 10-1 vote. They also approved the nomination of Ellen Ferretti, Acting Secretary of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources 11-0.

Sen. Daylin Leach (D- Delaware) cast the sole vote against Abruzzo, calling his climate change comments “mind-blowing.”

“This is a reflection of what I view to be a lack of seriousness with which the governor treats environmental issues,” said Leach. “It’s just not a serious nomination.”

Abruzzo’s professional background has not been focused on environmental issues. He has worked under Corbett for many years, as deputy chief of staff in the Governor’s office and before that, in the drug enforcement section of the Attorney General’s office. He’s spent most of his career as a prosecutor– dealing with criminal cases, including drug trafficking and Medicaid fraud.

Speaking at an event last month hosted by Blank Rome– the law firm of former DEP Secretary Mike Krancer– Abruzzo said when he was first appointed last spring, he did not expect to be leading the environmental agency for more than a few months.

“I don’t think until I sat in [Krancer's] chair, that I realized how challenging it is to lead an agency that, in many respects, is driven every single day by science and facts.”

Climate scientists have been issuing warnings for years about how warming can adversely affect humans and ecosystems– including rising sea levels, species extinctions, and risks to crops.

Yesterday, the National Academy of Sciences issued a 200-page report warning of threats from abrupt climate change:

“Both abrupt changes in the physical climate system and steady changes in climate that can trigger abrupt changes on other physical, biological, and human systems present possible threats to nature and society.”

In September, scientists from around the world gathered in Sweden to release the latest report from the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). They now say with near certainty that humans are affecting the climate.

“It is extremely likely that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century,” the authors write.

Penn State University climate scientist and professor of meteorology, Michael Mann, has contributed to the IPCC’s assessments.

“It greatly concerns me to hear comments like this,” he writes in an email, responding to Abruzzo’s statements. “They reflect an apparent profound ignorance of the actual state of scientific understanding.”

The full Senate is expected to vote on the nominations of Abruzzo and Ferretti next week.




  • David Rice

    This is utterly insane. Human-caused climate change is already observed to be disastrous to human life and other species. If someone claims to be “unaware” of the problem, that person is either a moron or a liar.

    • RBStanfield

      Ignorance is curable by education; stupidity is an incurable genetic defect. I suspect the latter.

  • David Rice

    Dr. Michael E Mann, MY FULL STATEMENT:

    It greatly concerns me to hear comments like this, as they reflect an apparent profound ignorance of the actual state of scientific understanding. I have to wonder precisely what “scientific studies” Mr. Abruzzo is referring to, because the most authoritative actual peer-reviewed study on the matter, published just last year, demonstrated that 97% of published peer-reviewed scientific articles about climate change agree with the scientific consensus that (a) climate change is real, (b) it is caused by us, and c) represents a threat to us, our economy, and our environment if we do nothing about it.

    That study is available here:

    Just yesterday, two authoritative studies by leading scientists in the field (including scientists from Penn State University) were published demonstrating that climate change may be an even worse threat to us now than we previously thought. You can find some discussion of that in this AP article from yesterday:

    It is the consensus of the world’s scientists, as determined by the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academies of all of the major industrial nations, and leading scientific societies in the U.S. including the American Physical Society, the American Meteorological Society, the American Geophysical Union, and 30+ others, that (a) global warming and climate change is real, (b) it is caused primarily by fossil fuel burning and associated increases in greenhouse gas concentrations, and c) it presents perhaps the greatest threat to civilization and our planet in the decades ahead if we do nothing about it. The most authoritative economic study to date indicates that climate-change impacts are already costing us more than a trillion dollars worldwide in GDP, far more than it would costs to do something about the problem.

    Here at Penn State University, we have many of the world’s leading scientists studying the basic science, impacts, and economics of climate change. I would certainly welcome Mr. Abruzzo to come and visit us here in State College to engage in an open and free-ranging discussion about the science, impacts, and economics of climate change

  • Patrick Henderson

    U.S. carbon emissions at a 20-year low, according to the U.S.
    Energy Information Administration. A 29% increase in ice cover across the globe
    compared to a year ago. An emerging consensus among climate change scientists
    that there has been a pause in global warming since 1997, with some predicting
    a global cooling trend. 2013 – the fewest number of hurricanes in…31
    years. And 8 years since the last major
    hurricane made landfall in the United States…the longest stretch since before
    the Civil War.

    Don’t fear though…we have
    discredited climate changer Michael Mann on speed-email to tell you that this
    is NOT a complex issue upon which reasonable, studious individuals may still be
    searching for a consensus.

    Patrick Henderson, Energy Executive
    Governor’s Office

    • Aaron

      You are talking nonsense. Ice levels in the Antarctic have increased, while at an all-time low in the Arctic – scientists think both are explained by global warming.

      • Aaron

        As for the “emerging consensus” that’s just an outright lie. Keep your head in the sand, why don’t you.

        • RBStanfield

          You have your right to your opinions. You not have a right to your facts.

      • Watching and Waiting

        Actually, Aaron, you might want to check your “facts.”

        • Jack Wolf

          His facts are correct.

      • SC427

        They “think” because at the end of the day it’s a giant scam to make people like Al Gore rich.

        • Aaron

          Huh, you are showing your ignorance and Tea Party IQ. What’s Gore got to do with the thousands of climate scientists around the world who have time and again confirmed what that man-made climate change is real and damaging.

          • SC427

            And for every “scientist” who preaches your theory there is at least one who debunks it. The sky is falling, you better hurry up and catch it.

          • Aaron

            You are in cloud cuckoo land whatever position you hold if you really believe that. Hopeless.

          • SC427

            I’m open minded enough and intelligent enough to listen to multiple sources on any subject rather than blindly follow any ideology and their BS. Cuckoo land is where most of the radicals on the far left and far right reside who follow whatever position their idles spout and discount any opposing views. I make my own decisions and don’t need to call people ignorant or Tea Partiers or Obamabots or whatever else the nitwits of the world resort to when the views they parrot are challenged. If Al Gore and the climate change crowd truly believe that we are causing the problem, why don’t they park their private jets and SUVs and drive Volts?

          • Aaron

            So why, in that case, do you go on about Al Gore – he doesn’t mean anything outside of the US. As for Volts, how about public transport – which I use, like most ordinary people in most urbanized societies (apart from the US where a gas guzzler is seen as a god-given right)

          • Jack Wolf

            Pick up a journal, and you will see you are wrong.

          • SC427

            By the way, the ignorance is your opinion and I value it little. As far as the Tea Party crack, you’ve got balls. Because I think the scam of Global Warming is a bunch of bull, I can’t be an independent? Bite me moron.

    • hmontaigne

      Keep reading, Patrick, but this time try reading some real science. Better yet, go talk to the survivors in the Philippines who recently experienced catastrophe firsthand. And you know, Michael Mann has NOT been discredited. If you didn’t know this, you are not competent to do your job. If you did know this and still claim he’s been discredited, then you are intentionally trying to mislead, which doesn’t speak well for your integrity.

      • Watching and Waiting

        Catastrophes happen from time to time. But what you, and a lot of so-called “enlightened” people, are saying is that that those catastrophes are happening more often because of preventable/constrainable human activity.
        Then why, exactly, has there been no statistically-significant increase in hurricanes and tropical storms in the Atlantic since 1878 – that’s a peer-reviewed report from NOAA’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory in Princeton, N.J.?
        If you’re right, one would think there would be a noticeable upward trend of such storms in something as vast as the Atlantic. And yet there hasn’t been.

        Even without that fact, you’re telling the rest of us you have a sure-fire way of preventing terrible weather events, or reducing their frequency?
        Good luck with that: unless you’re an omnipotent super-being with control over the Earth’s forces of nature, I’m thinking you’ll be no better at that than me hoping it doesn’t snow or rain this weekend.

        • hmontaigne

          I said no such thing.

        • Jason Gulvas

          Again, as with this Henderson guy, I challenge you to post credible references to your claims. Since 97% of the 11, 944 peer-reviewed climate abstracts examined maintain a consensus toward “anthropogenic global warming”- thanks for the reference, Dr. Mann- you are burdened with proving the opposing, outlandish viewpoint.

        • Jack Wolf

          Think global. Why is it that those that can not accept the physical facts of climate change always try to pick one point on the planet and draw inferences that the rest of the world is the same? Besides, they are getting more powerful – all weather is. Be thankful for the Atlantic slumber, though I doubt Sandy and Irene victims got any sleep.
          Do you really think we are that stupid to think that because of observations at one point on the globe, that it is happening everywhere? Especially when people are seeing impacts in their own lives??
          Silly you.

      • berniez

        Michael Mann has NOT been discredited? Only in the eyes of the uninformed and scientifically challenged. The man has been fudging temps for 40 years and yet the lemmings of Climate Change accept the preposterous nonsense he has spewed. Not ONE of the papers touting climate change predicted the current 15 year STOP in temperature rise. Now they all scramble spewing utter gobbledygook pretending they know what they are talking about. Your peer reviewed papers are scientific guesses with too many “if’s” “maybes” and “possibles” to actually conclude anything but you don’t know. Conclusions have no data to support it, just assumptions. Scientifically embarrassing if it was a science but conclusive proof for a religion.
        Climate science is not a science but a new religion. based on the teaching of charlatans who quest for fame and power has corrupted science.
        One cannot argue with religion and I make no attempt to.

        To the minions of the mindless I will not try to confuse your minds with the facts, just do not attempt to impose your new religion on the rational thinking people and the nation.

    • Jason Gulvas

      Why don’t you post references to the claims you make, sir? You wouldn’t be perceived a denying, industry shill so much if you could just back up your statements.

  • Victoria Switzer

    Corbett, Henderson, Abruzzo are officially on the naughty list now!

  • Lance Simmens

    Unfracking believable. Luckily for the residents of Pennsylvania out to lunch Guv will be out of office after his pathetic term and this nincompoop will go with him, maybe to the Flat Earth Society. God help the dedicated men and women who thought they were doing good deeds for the society by devoting their lives to public service at DEP.

    • Greg

      Show the proof. The “studies” have been proven to be fabricated, at least on researcher currently serving time for fraud. And fat cat politicians pushing this hoax are getting richer by playing the dupes that still hold onto this false theory.

      Mount Pinatubo eruption in 1991 put more carbon dioxide and particulates into the atmosphere than man has since learning to make fire, with no lasting impact. studies of the effects indicated a .01 degree drop in average temperature for a period of 3 months, then back to normal readings. Where are the people looking to ban volcanic eruptions??

      The arrogance of the people still pushing this crap astounds most people still able to think. The same person say that we are stupid, ineffective and incapable of caring for ourselves, but also say that our existence and working for a better life for earths inhabitants, will ruin the entire creation and environment of earth.

  • NorthernTier

    ‘“I’ve not read any scientific studies that would lead me to conclude
    there are adverse impacts to human beings, animals, or plant life at
    this small level of climate change,” Abruzzo said.’

    Suggested reading:

    Climate Change Impacts – Natural Rescouces Canada

    Climate Impacts on Forests – U.S. EPA

    Consequences of climate change for biotic disturbances in North American forests – Ecological Society of America

    Climate Change and Forests – Vermont Division of Forestry

    • NorthernTier

      New, released today:

      “Gas Rush: New projects to increase greenhouse gas emissions by 91 million tons a year” – Environmental Integrity Project

      “95 new projects at oil, gas, or petrochemical plants will increase greenhouse gas emissions 91 million tons annually, or about as much as the output from 20 large coal plants. …”

  • Jim Foster

    Both Republicans and Democrats should oppose Mr. Abruzzo’s nomination to be Secretary of DEP. For environmentalists like me who see the dangers of climate change, opposing him is a no-brainer. But, let me suggest this to others who aren’t sold on the negative impacts of climate change. It’s one thing for Mr. Abruzzo to say he doesn’t personally believe that human based climate change is having a negative impact on humans and other species. But, he’s gone FAR beyond that. He is actually saying that he isn’t aware of any studies that show this negative impact. Regardless of where you stand on climate change, no reasonably aware human can say there aren’t good scientific studies that show the negative impacts of climate change. This article cites two well known studies by prominent groups, the National Academy of Sciences and the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. To my Republican friends I ask this question: Do you want a Secretary of DEP who denies the very existence of well-known studies in the areas he is going to supervise? Isn’t it dangerous for a Secretary of DEP to deny the facts on the ground? This has nothing to do with where you stand on subjects like climate change, fracking and energy production. This is about HONESTY!!

    Surely the reality is that Mr. Abruzzo is well aware of these studies, as well as others. No reasonably intelligent person could not be. What he is really doing is drinking the Kool-Aid being served by the frackers and energy companies who helped to elect his boss, Gov. Corbett. He and his boss are entitled to their opinions. But, they are not entitled to make up their own facts to support these opinions.

    • Greg

      Made up facts make up more of the “evidence” to support human caused global warming, global cooling, or climate change (pick your crisis of “change” by the decade) I am aware of fraudulent studies that show climate change is the responsibility of human activity. I have seen several, from respected sources that attribute more of the cause to natural cycles of forces more powerful and longer lasting than Man.

      The environment has absorbed, and survived, much more damaging things than the economic activity of humans. Other than nuclear energy, I see no reasonable cause to stop pursuing energy sources that make the US less dependent on foreign imports. Keep our money and jobs here, where we do have people that care enough to police the activity, show where deficiencies and outright negligence occur, and have companies expend the capital to remedy those situations. Rather than pay foreign nations that have no concept of environmental responsibility to extract the energy we over pay for, and send it to us and enrich their governments that seek to destroy us in the process.

  • letstalk12

    If this nomination goes through, it will be a sad day for Pennsylvania. Like Sen. Leach said…it’s mind-blowing. Just unbelievable that he would make that statment he did… makes him look completely ignorant and incapable heading the DEP.

  • hmontaigne

    The reason he hasn’t read anything about the adverse effects of climate change is likely because he doesn’t know or care shit about the environment or science. This is a sham and a scam to get more favors for Corbett’s big business piggies. But we knew that.

  • Watching and Waiting

    Amazing that this story does not mention at all the fact that global warming hypotheses by such people as Dr. Mann have been disproven – scientifically – not whatever Mann calls “science.”
    Given Mann’s utter disregard for real peer review – which means having access to his data, calculations and findings in an attempt to replicate his results – I don’t know that I would offer him – or the IPCC, which has shown repeated and equal disdain for anyone asking why their numbers and claims don’t add up – as any type of expert in a story.

    • I_Love_Delco

      When and by whom?

  • Julieann Wozniak

    At least I live atop Bobtown Hill and won’t drown when the icecaps melt. Boiling like a lobster in a pot is quite another matter.

    • Ben

      …I realized how challenging it is to lead an agency that, in many respects, is driven every single day by science and facts… and I am here to fix that.

  • pjgills

    “I don’t think until I sat in [Krancer's] chair, that I realized how
    challenging it is to lead an agency that, in many respects, is driven
    every single day by science and facts.” Abuzzo does not have a science or environmental background – he has the same type of background as Corbett. This fact alone should disqualify him. His utter nonsensical statements during the hearing are damning but the fact that he is a prosecutor and not even remotely interested in or has a background in science is what I find appalling. And no, Dr. Mann has NOT been discredited as erroneously stated below by the Governor’s Energy Executive (yes, that’s a good person to be chiming in – the Governor’s man who tells him what the gas companies want done). I never thought I would live long enough to see more damage done in PA than what coal did, but here we are again.

  • SC

    This country is so corrupt with politicians who DON’T care about NOTHING but lining their own pockets, & that of their friends. I hope they ALL get whats coming to them in our life time!!

    • SC427

      Lining their pockets like Al Gore. Flies around the world on private jets and yet we’re supposed to pay more for energy while he does as he pleases. A bunch of hypocrites with sheep blindly following their junk science.

  • SC427

    So because he doesn’t believe in the scam perpetrated by the likes of Al Gore, he’s a bad pick? Cut me a break. Dorothy, wake up!!

  • Josh

    It’s not that Abruzzo sees no ill effects. It’s that he disagrees with the very premise of human-caused “climate change.” And now more angry people with pitchforks want to burn another witch at the stake for daring to question their religion of human caused climate change. Stop politicizing science. Any scientist who engages in political advocacy is no longer a scientist, but an activist. Zero credibility. That’s the problem here: Abruzzo sees low credibility while activists howl and bang on the city gate, demanding his head on a pike.

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