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Senate Committee Considers Nominations for DCNR, DEP Heads

The Senate Environmental Resources & Energy Committee met this week to consider the nominations of Ellen M. Ferretti as Secretary of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) and E. Christopher Abruzzo as Secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).  Both were reported favorably to the full Senate for confirmation.
Sen. Lisa Baker (R-Luzerne) introduced Ferretti, stating that the committee could look “long and hard” and not find a better-qualified candidate than her as nominee. Baker went on to say that Ferretti has had tremendous impact shaping environmental planning and practices in northeast Pennsylvania.
Sen. Rob Teplitz (D-Dauphin) offered his support for Chris Abruzzo as Secretary of DEP. Teplitz talked about working with Abruzzo as a local official in Dauphin County. He said that while members may not always agree with the decisions of the department, they will be made with good intentions and with transparency on the part of Abruzzo.
Ferretti faced questions regarding parks, Marcellus Shale extraction, timbering, and pending legislation that would affect the classification of threatened and endangered species. Abruzzo discussed his efforts to improve transparency in DEP, as well as backlogged permits, and Marcellus Shale drilling impacts.
Sen. Leach asked if Abruzzo supports legislation raising Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards (AEPS). Abruzzo said he would not oppose it but would have to see the specific legislation to offer a more in-depth assessment. He noted there are benefits but also real-world consequences to such measures. Leach told Abruzzo, “you have almost no obvious experience in environmental protection.”
The committee unanimously reported the nomination of Ferretti to the full Senate. The committee reported the nomination of Abruzzo to the full Senate, with Sen. Leach voting in the negative.