Panel moves Quigley nomination to full senate, without recommendation

  • Marie Cusick
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Marie Cusick/ StateImpact Pennsylvania

Gov. Wolf's nominee to head the state Department of Environmental Protection, John Quigley, testifying before a state senate panel Tuesday.

A panel of state senators declined Tuesday to endorse Governor Wolf’s pick to head the state Department of Environmental Protection. Without the committee’s official approval or disapproval, acting secretary John Quigley’s nomination now heads to the full senate.

The official word from the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee was “no recommendation,” but the Republican chair, Gene Yaw (Bradford) said he will still vote to approve Quigley and expects he will be confirmed.

Yaw says he is primarily concerned with some of Quigley’s past statements. As a former secretary for the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Quigley has been an outspoken critic of how natural gas leasing was handled by his former boss– Democratic Governor Ed Rendell.

Quigley has said Pennsylvania’s forests were treated like a “cash cow” and that Marcellus Shale money had become akin to “crack cocaine” for state government. He’s also questioned whether gas drillers would leave a legacy of environmental damage rivaling previous extractive industries, like coal and timber.

Quigley was much more circumspect in his comments Tuesday before the committee, noting the Wolf administration wants the gas industry to be successful.

“Some of his positions are things we would not agree with,” said Yaw. “You look at his past history, and then you look at what he said today– and it’s everything people would expect and would want to hear.”

Quigley said he does not regret his past statements or the positions he took on the blog he wrote before he was appointed head of the DEP.

“I respect the [confirmation] process and I understand the politics,” he said. “I think a fair reading of everything I’ve written shows I have a sense of balance.”

If confirmed, Quigley will be the state’s most powerful environmental regulator and have authority over enforcement related to many industries, including Marcellus Shale drillers. The senate has a June 9th deadline to vote on his nomination.

In a separate vote Tuesday, the senate unanimously approved Wolf’s other environmental cabinet choice–Cindy Dunn was confirmed as DCNR secretary.

 

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