Pennsylvania

Energy. Environment. Economy.

Rep. Greg Vitali feels burned after losing committee assignment

Rep. Greg Vitali, right, argues with the Republican chair of the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee in April 2016.

Marie Cusick / StateImpact Pennsylvania

Rep. Greg Vitali (D- Delaware), right, arguing with the Republican chair of the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee in April 2016.

2017 hasn’t gotten off to a great start for state Rep. Greg Vitali (D- Delaware).

The outspoken environmental advocate learned Thursday he would no longer serve as Democratic chair of the House Environmental Resources and Energy committee. Instead, Vitali was reassigned to chair the State Government committee, a post he’s considering declining.

He views the move as punishment for repeatedly speaking his mind. Over the years he’s managed to ruffle feathers on both sides of the aisle.

“In some regards, I feel like John Quigley,” says Vitali, referring to the former state environmental secretary, who left amid controversy over an angry email. “He devoted his life to environmental policy. He incurred the ire of those he spoke out against, and he was gone.”

Shortly after Quigley’s departure from the Department of Environmental Protection last spring, Vitali held a press conference excoriating Governor Tom Wolf, a fellow Democrat, accusing him of lying about Quigley’s ousting. A few months later, Vitali sharply criticized a bill which would have banned fees on plastic bags, suggesting Democratic Whip Michael Hanna (D- Clinton) was sponsoring it for political reasons.

But Vitali’s criticism Tuesday on the House floor of new rule changes was the “straw that broke the camel’s back,” he says.

“We first got notice there were going to be changes to the rules Monday afternoon, and that was a national holiday,” says Vitali. “These rules will allow [the leadership] to get bills through with much less notice and less debate.”

Vitali says he received virtually no notice he would lose his committee assignment. On Thursday afternoon he found staff of House Minority Leader Frank Dermody in his office, removing the computer of a staffer who is being transferred the new committee chair, Rep. Mike Carroll (D- Luzerne).

Michael Herzing, a spokesman for Dermody, says he wouldn’t characterize the change as a punishment for Vitali.

“State government and ethics and reform have always been big issues for him, as well as the environment,” says Herzing. “[Vitali] did have a discussion with the leader. That doesn’t mean he’s happy about it.”

Committee membership lists have not yet been announced. Herzing he’s not sure whether Vitali will remain on the Environmental Resources and Energy Committee or not.

Vitali says regardless of his role, he intends to continue working on environmental issues, including promoting new methane rules for oil and gas sites, and new regulations for conventional drillers.

Comments

  • paulroden

    This is outrageous, Do the Democrats stand for protecting the environment or not? Or doesn’t it matter whether you are a Republican or Democrat, you are owned and beholden to the greedy, dirty, climate change denying, polluting fossil fuel industry? Does the First Amendment not apply to our elected representatives? Sham on the Democratic leadership in Harrisburg.

  • nathansooy

    Democratic Party leadership in Harrisburg could not give less of a damn about water and air quality. Greg Vitali has been the strongest advocate the environmental groups have had in the General Assembly. And THAT is why he is being targeted.

    Thank you, Representative Vitali! To the Minority Leader in the PA House, I reserve a certain well know hand gesture.

    • http://canadachapterpbi.ca manifesto2000

      When governments are failing to understand their duties of environmental stewardship – just remember that in Sept of 2015 193 nations decided on 17 Sustainable Development Goals for 2030. http://www.bccic.ca When we are able to develop a community by community working relationship to deal with these goals – a major leap of possibilities will emerge.

  • Fracked

    Can’t say I am surprised…all the good men are gone…and so it goes for Penn’s Woods

  • macman2

    Is Frank Dermody responsible for Democratic committee assignments? Why is he doing the bidding of the oil and gas industry or can we spell p-a-y-o-f-f?

  • Maureen Leuszler

    Delaware County will be the epicenter of fracking material passing through pipelines to the Sunoco Marcus Hook facility. There was a debate in Philadelphia whether to profit financially from all of the gas business that could come to town along with the pollution and danger environmentally or to fight against pipelines in order to keep clean the revitalized center city and emerging neighborhoods of dining, nightlife, opportunity that has attracted a young, vibrant, new population to the city. I don’t know what the conclusion of the city managers became, if a decision has been made, but it comes down to a decision of profit over environment, Delaware County should decidedly be fully represented on the Environmental Resources and Energy Committee.

    • jefferson

      Pennsylvania Democrats have done just as much frack-enabling as Republicans. Recall, it was Ed Rendell who rolled out the red carpet for the shale drillers. For me, the last straw was when the Democratic Party in PA spent million$ to prevent the nomination of Joe Sestak, who –aside from standing against the frackers– was probably the most highly qualified candidate for political office to come out of PA during my lifetime. The Vitali dismissal only serves to validate my changing political affiliation from Democrat to Independent.

  • David Head

    There is a reason why the Democrats are becoming such a bunch of losers, and it ain’t the Russians. They don’t stand for anything any more. And when someone like comes along like Greg Vitali or Bernie Sanders, who really does stand for something the Democratic leadership doer their best to stop them. No wonder so many Democrats didn’t bother to vote in November.

    • Mack

      Mack Follow the money.

  • Porter Randolph

    Bad enough that Democrats continue to hemerorage seats in the state house and senate, now Dermody declares open season on his own party. Call out the circular firing squad, this is just sad.

  • Fracked

    Silence the concerned citizens, neuter the pro-protection elected officials, stall or refuse meaningful regulation and you have the perfect storm…history does repeat itself unless there is significant motivation, education, and the will to not follow a disastrous course. Sadly, PA is controlled by “elected” officials who serve one God-gas. Anyone who thinks they can steer this madness in a safer direction, a less destructive course ends up…gone. If gas drilling and all of its operations are so safe why are the watch dogs sent off to the pound?

  • Melissa A. Eastman

    The DNC is far more powerful than most know or understand. The DNC is responsible for Sestak’s fate and, most likely, Vitali’s.

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