Top stories: John Quigley's departure from DEP

Written by Marie Cusick | Jan 2, 2017 12:04 AM
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Former Pa. DEP Secretary John Quigley.

There's been a lot of turnover lately at the state Department of Environmental Protection. In the past four years, the agency has had five secretaries.

Last spring former DEP Secretary John Quigley was out of a job after he sent an angry email to environmental groups--complaining they weren't having a strong enough influence in Harrisburg.

One evening in April, Quigley fired off the profanity-tinged email from his personal account, accusing the groups of not doing enough to support DEP's new oil and gas rules, which had faced stiff opposition from the industry and the Republican-led legislature.

After a news article about the email surfaced a month later, Governor Tom Wolf quickly issued a statement thanking Quigley for his service, saying he'd resigned.

There was no further explanation from the governor's office. But both supporters and critics of Quigley believe he was fired. House Republican spokesman Steve Miskin, said some members found Quigley's attitude difficult to deal with.

Rep. Greg Vitali (D-Delaware) was among Quigley's allies and accused the Wolf administration of punishing him for being "too effective" at his job.

"What kind of statement does that say to other employees in the DEP who want to do the right thing?" says Vitali. "If someone can lose their job by just being an aggressive environmental advocate, it has to have a chilling effect."

Quigley has repeatedly declined to comment on the matter.

He was replaced by acting Secretary Patrick McDonnell, who has worked at the DEP for over a decade and is viewed as someone with a strong policy background who won't stir up as much political controversy.

McDonnell's appointment requires approval from the Senate, which still hasn't happened yet. However, he is widely expected to be confirmed in 2017.


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