Pennsylvania

Energy. Environment. Economy.

Wolf defends cabinet picks: ‘I want the industry to succeed’

Gov.-elect Tom Wolf.

Marie Cusick/ StateImpact Pennsylvania

Gov.-elect Tom Wolf says he wants his administration to be a partner with Pennsylvania's gas industry.

Governor-elect Tom Wolf is praising his nominees for the state’s top environmental posts, and says he wants his administration to be a partner with gas drillers. But some members of the industry are worried about his choices.

Wolf chose John Quigley to head the state Department of Environmental Protection and Cindy Dunn to lead the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. Quigley ran DCNR during the Rendell administration and backed a moratorium on new gas leasing of public land. Dunn is CEO of the environmental advocacy group, PennFuture, which has been critical of how the state has handled the Marcellus Shale boom.

“I want the industry to succeed,” Wolf told reporters at a press conference today. “[Quigley and Dunn] share with me the understanding that we have to be a partner with the gas industry in making this work.”

But some members of the gas industry worry these nominees will be hostile to drilling.

Wolf called those concerns “nonsense.”

“It’s remarkably unbelievable Mr. Wolf can say with a straight face that these two activists will check their wildly out of the mainstream views at the door,” said one industry source.

When asked by a reporter, Wolf said he doubts either nominee will face substantial opposition in the confirmation process from the Republican majority in the state senate.

“My experience is senators look at the qualifications, not the ideology,” he said. “I think they’ll look at the overall picture and say, ‘Are these people competent and qualified?’ and I think the answer has to be ‘Yes.’”

Wolf also dismissed criticism that many of his cabinet picks served in the Rendell administration.

“I have people who were cabinet officers in the Casey administration,” he said. “People who were in the Ridge administration, the Schweiker administration, the Rendell administration, the Corbett administration. So take your pick.”

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