Democratic challengers criticize Corbett administration over climate comments
Two of Governor Corbett’s Democratic challengers are sharply criticizing his administration over a series of recent comments on climate change.
Corbett’s leading challenger, Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz, is calling on the governor to withdraw his nomination for the state Department of Environmental Protection, Chris Abruzzo, after he told a Senate committee last week he hasn’t read any scientific studies that would lead him to believe climate change can cause harm.
“Governor Corbett’s decision to nominate an individual who denies the dangerous effects of climate change to head the DEP is unacceptable,” Schwartz said in statement.
Shortly after Abruzzo’s statement, Corbett’s top energy adviser, Patrick Henderson, wrote a message on the StateImpact Pennsylvania website attacking prominent Penn State University climate scientist, Michael Mann.
Mann has asked for an apology. Meanwhile, former DEP Secretary and Democratic gubernatorial candidate John Hanger called on Corbett to fire Henderson.
“After enduring years of outrageous defamatory statements that are politically motivated, Professor Mann is now suing two right wing outfits for defamation,” said Hanger in a statement. “I stand with Professor Mann against those attacks and this latest defamation by Patrick Henderson.”
Corbett himself has avoided weighing in on climate change. When asked by StateImpact Pennsylvania in July if he agrees with the scientific consensus around the issue, he dodged the question.
“Well, what I believe is that we need to be able to provide jobs for the people of Pennsylvania,” he said. “Whether you view that as climate change, I don’t know. But I believe in trying to grow the jobs we need to come in with all forms of energy.”
Corbett’s press secretary Jay Pagni stressed the governor’s support for both Henderson and Abruzzo and their comprehension of science.
“There is a knowledge base and there is an understanding,” he says. “Climate change is a global issue and as such it requires a global response. Pennsylvania is doing its part.”
The full Senate is expected to vote on Abruzzo’s nomination to head the DEP tomorrow.
[UPDATE] The Philadelphia Inquirer is reporting Abruzzo is slated to appear today at the Senate Democratic caucus meeting for a question and answer session.