Energy. Environment. Economy.

Here’s the email that led to the resignation of Wolf’s environmental secretary

Former Pennsylvania DEP Secretary John Quigley.

Emma Lee/WHYY

Former Pennsylvania DEP Secretary John Quigley resigned last week following controversy over an email he sent to environmental advocacy groups, criticizing them for not pushing back against legislative efforts to stall or block environmental regulations.

StateImpact Pennsylvania has obtained a copy of the email sent by Governor Tom Wolf’s environmental secretary, John Quigley, that led to his resignation Friday.

“I’ve slept on this but can no longer hold back,” Quigley wrote. “Where the f*ck were you people yesterday? The House and Senate hold Russian show trials on vital environmental issues and there’s no pushback at all from the environmental community? Nobody bothering to insert themselves in the news cycle?”

Quigley sent the profanity-laced note to several environmental groups the day after state House and Senate panels voted to reject oil and gas regulations, which he had championed in his job at the helm of the state Department of Environmental Protection. The same day, a Senate committee had also approved a bill to give lawmakers more oversight in efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

Joe Minott, executive director of the Clean Air Counsel, was among the people who received the message. He calls Quigley a “good guy” who always put the priorities of the administration first.

“It would be absurd if his departure was the result of this email. I assume there were other things happening,” says Minott. “The only question for me is– does this mean a change in [the Wolf administration's] priorities?”

A source close to the administration tells StateImpact Pennsylvania the email was merely the “straw that broke the camel’s back” and that Quigley’s style had angered people within the administration and the legislature.

“I know a number of members have complained about [Quigley's] attitude,” says GOP House spokesman Steve Miskin. “Obviously his regulatory positions had supporters, but in the end the governor wants to get something everyone can agree to. The governor wants a consensus.”

Wolf’s chief of staff, Mary Isenhour, personally dislikes Quigley, according to Rep. Greg Vitali (D- Delaware), who is a vocal supporter of green causes.

“Isenhour has never been a fan of Quigley and she has never prioritized the environment,” says Vitali. “Wolf is getting bad advice from others in the administration. [In the email] Quigley was urging interest groups to hold up the governor’s agenda. You shouldn’t be neutral about your own policies.”

Wolf spokesman Jeff Sheridan says he’s not aware of any bad blood between Isenhour and Quigley.

“I don’t know anything about any relationship between Mary and the former Secretary,” says Sheridan. “We thanked him for his service. Given everything bubbling up, he decided to resign.”

Vitali says environmentalists are out-numbered in Harrisburg.

“Just look at any environmental committee meeting and it’s chock full of well-heeled, well-dressed men and women who represent the Marcellus Shale industry,” he said.

Vitali is worried that the lack of a strong environmental advocate leading DEP will mean the administration back-tracking on key issues. He’s specifically concerned that the updated oil and gas regulations will no longer apply to conventional drillers, who have long-complained they were unfairly lumped in with the newer, Marcellus Shale industry. He says conventional drilling regulations will be used as a bargaining chip in broader, ongoing state budget negotiations with the Republican-led legislature.

Sheridan says that’s not the case.

Stephanie Catarino Wissman, who heads the Pennsylvania division of the industry group, the American Petroleum Institute, declined to comment on what Quigley was like to work with saying only, “We will continue to work with the administration.”

News of the email first surfaced Thursday. Several articles linked it to attack ads run by environmental groups that surfaced against Democratic senators who voted against Quigley’s wishes. However, in the email he does not mention anyone by name.

Quigley instead poses a series of questions to the environmental groups, urging them to act.

“Is there no penalty for D apostasy, at least, or shaming of the gas-shilling Rs?” Quigley asks, referring to the political party labels. “The environmental community is without influence in Harrisburg. What will you do about it?”

Quigley did not respond to a request to comment Monday.



  • Janine Pavalone

    But WTH, you are supposed to be NPR. This is my frustration with State Impact (no Impact), nothing is cutting edge. The fact that you FAILED to mention Yudichak and what he did when it is well known. He is so corrupt. I can’t anymore with Pennsylvania and even PA “news” sources.

  • Robert Pohlman

    Dysfunction in a Democratic administration??? Who knew that after no budget for almost a year, that the administration seems to have also failed with Wolf”s promises of environmental oversight. With all the money being received by the State Wolf does not want to lose this windfall. There is always compromise to do both, but Democrats follow Obama’s lead – no compromise.

    • dave p

      The budget problems in PA are due to the Republicans in the legislature. The no compromise involving Obama is on the part of the Republicans in Congress.

  • Fracked

    It is official. The Wolf administration needs a name change. How about the Sheep Administration? Without Quigley-head of the DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION we might as well consider this administration an extension of the Corbett regime. Quigley was trying to do his job-protect. Please while your making name changes Tom, rename DEP-DEPARTMENT OF OIL AND GAS PROMOTION

  • Truth Greater than Trends

    Throwing a fit because his communists policies to control and regulate the oil industry are not strong enough, these jerks want to suck the life out of all private industry so they as the state can take over, run and control them 100% so they can rob the taxpayers out of more money.

    • Nancy Jeffries

      As of now Williams plans to steal my private home property by eminent domain for their corporate profit with no benefit to me or citizens of Pennsylvania. My property tax assessment will go down. Yes there are robbers but you have them on the wrong side

    • dave p

      LMFAO. You wouldn’t know the truth if it hit you in the face. Which gas company do you work for?

  • BobSchmetzer

    It is so obvious that Range and the Marcellus Shale Coalition had their hands in this. The $8.9 million fine for pollution was dropped , all of the work and money spent drawing up current protections , 78 & 78 a, was wasted. All of the peoples time going to the PaDEP hearings made fools of them. Now the PaDEP Secretary is gone stinks of CORRUPTION. Elections are coming . This will not be forgotten. Either PADEP live up to their mission statement or the Attorney general should bring charges against them. Also , check the political contributions .

    • Scroat


      • BobSchmetzer

        It is sad, Sorry , I didn’t want to make you cry.

    • Craig Dennis

      PaDEP are fascists!

  • alneuman

    wolf is a far left elitist. a corporate raider (he raided his own company at the expense of the employees). wolf hates shale gas and loves teachers (the teachers funded his advertising campaign) his administration is a failure and he alone is responsible for that.

    • ekofreek

      shale gas vs teachers? poison vs nurture. get yr priorities straight.

  • jim james

    From the above article, one must conclude Quigley is one of the decent guys and only little children get upset about curse words.

    • Bilbo Baggins

      Yes, civility is so overrated.

  • Sam Pensive

    anyone who is a resident of PA (me included) has to take a step back and consider the humor in this story. it’s been a mess from the start in an Administration headed by a Democrat with his appointed department leaders.
    The other side politically hasn’t had to lift a heavy load to make them all seem like a bunch of incompetents.
    The way the Oil and Gas industry is portrayed is to make it seems like only BIG business is the target. Reality check time; the Oil and Gas business does have it’s base in the thousands of PA citizens and land owners and farmers who own and lease gas and oil rights to BIG business. Everyone in that chain is a target. The people who don’t have it and don’t benefit from it are targeting the rest of us.
    I think one way for the Governor to have a compromise in the environmental area is to propose fees and taxes exactly the same as the other neighboring states. That seems fair and wouldn’t slant the odds of business being unable to function in PA, It will also fund the protection the environment needs for any issues, spills or cleanups required.
    I did print that Email by the way. I’m going to save that one.

  • earl

    All I can say is that I have been noticing in the North-Central Pennsylvania (Elk county,Cameron,Clinton Potter,area) where all the large State Forests are they have in the last few years been rebuilding all the small Bridges out in the middle of nowhere that didn’t need rebuilding. These new bridges are now more than capable of taking loads and abuse from modern Fracking trucks and equipment. They said and their is a moratorium on not fracking in these and other State forest but,you just know they have built these bridges for the future use of the fracking industry at the Taxpayers expense now.These now wild areas are where the thousands of springs and small creeks come together to form the beginning of the Susquehanna River system.It was a little over a 100 years ago when the large Lumber companies cut all the Virgin forest down and created hundreds of square miles of devastated wildlife,erosion,killed off wild fish populations,devastating forest fires left to the taxpayers to deal with.Our business friendly(From out of state business mostly including illegal alien workers) want to Once again Privitize the Profits and have the taxpayers pay for their infrastucture so they can dump their mistakes and environmental abuse cost on the citizens for the third time in Pa. history (Lumber clearcutting,Coal Company Devastation,Now Fracking Pollution for our Children).

  • Keith Hinkel

    Wolf at his best. Best wishes Mr. Quigley–stand up Pennsylvania Citizens–salute a politician with “Balls”!

  • Vera Scroggins

    what’s the problem here; Quigley is faulted for promoting the regs he wants and believes are necessary. He is , after all, the environmental regulatory agency …..he’s not here to promote the Governor’s agenda or bias …..he’s here to protect what the Industry is negatively impacting since day One….I think the Governor needs to resign for encouraging, supporting in any way the resignation of Quigley…….

    • Keith Hinkel

      Politics, period. Follow the $$$. Yes Wolf worthless also. No different than the attack[s] on AG Kane.

      • BobSchmetzer

        Scrotum, why attack Vera. ? She has exposed more illegal behavior harming Pennsylvania than you ever did. You were absent . You do not have any clothes on. So go back to the bar and have another beer.

        • Keith Hinkel

          Bob! U talking to me? If so U idiot I am not attacking anyone but Wolf& his Pa corrupt government. Go get an education and learn to read. Damn fool.

        • Scroat

          ‘Scroatum’, how clever! You leftists are against any sort of energy progress, but you undoubtedly have gas and/or electric powered utilities in your home. If the environmental destruction from energy development is as vast as you all proclaim, you should cancel your utility services immediately,buy a generator for your bike or some solar panels for you house (with which you will break even on in 15 years or so, assuming no maintenance costs or leak/roofing repairs). You could also get a generator for your stationary bike to power your computer so you that you could continue to post nonsense on this thread, but you would also need internet service from some company using fossil fuels to power their operations, so you are also a hypocrite.

    • Scroat

      I was wondering when you would crawl out of your natural gas or coal powered hole to post. or did you drive a gasoline powered car to the library to post your dribble? Or did you climb on a diesel powered bus to get to the library? maybe you even used your fossil-fueled charged phone to post that you hypocrite

  • Bilbo Baggins

    Quigley is a hyper liberal and, as such, is unable to control his raging emotions. He reminds me of that jackass, Kieth Olbermann, who gets fired from every job because he shoots off his mouth like a child too.

  • dave p

    Only in the corrupt Pennsylvania government which has been bought and paid for by the gas industry could a government official be fired for telling the truth.

  • itsatax

    Unhinged fanatics like this guy should be kept out of leadership positions.

  • jdun

    Big business wins again, as usual. Money talks, environment loses.

  • Edog

    Yes lets crucify this man for actually doing his job and giving a chit at the same time.

  • Craig Dennis

    These environmental people just can’t stop requiring more and more regulations. I’ll bet that they are all owned by the benefactors of the regulations that they seek.

    • Rich Garella

      Exactly! They’re puppets of the special interests like people who like to breathe clean air, and people who like to drink clean water. And people who want the sea level to remain roughly where it is, I almost forgot those selfish jerks. These special interests have no right to deprive a small number of other people their chance to make huge piles of money, just because they like breathing and stuff. It’s not as if they own the air or the water, so what’s their beef?

      • Craig Dennis

        Hey Rich, These natural gas regulations will do nothing to keep the air clean, or keep the water clean. And surely, these regulations will not keep the ocean from rising. Since these regulators can do so much, I’d like them to show me how they can regulate industry so that we have a mild winter with little snow.

        • BobSchmetzer

          Since you already have your head up there, please check for polyps .

        • Scroat

          Thanks, Obama!

  • rockjockpa

    Recall that Quigley was behind the no-bid contract to award Anadarko a sweet low ball lease that cost the state more than $120 million

  • Robert Dishington

    Quigley was right. Where were all our environmental “champions”? Pennsylvania has always been owned by coal, oil and steel interests. We get a receptive progressive governor with a committed environmentalist in a position of influence and our environmental organizations pull a no-show? Despicable gutless jagoffs too busy fundraising to actually get anything done.

  • BobSchmetzer

    This state government needs changed. They hire good people to do the job as described by law, then when business wants something criminal , the government takes political contributions and cuts funding to the agency who they hired to do the job or fire them. Looks like the people of Pa are getting the shaft from their elected officials. Money out of politics. Legislate that !

  • Scroat

    I love that any controversial comments on this thread are being removed by the “impartial jury”

  • Jack Wolf

    He may have slept on it, but given his tone, I think he still had liquor in his system.

  • Mark White

    The beauty of vodka and it’s effect on email structure…..

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