HARRISBURG – Senator Ryan Aument (R-Landisville) today called for an investigation into the conduct of John Quigley, former Secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection (“DEP”), who abruptly resigned from Governor Wolf’s cabinet on May 20, 2016.
“Secretary Quigley’s quick departure from leading one of our Commonwealth’s most important executive departments raises serious questions about his conduct while serving as the chief operating officer of the DEP,” said Sen. Aument. “Given the recent discovery of incendiary emails, I believe we need a thorough review to determine if anything inappropriate has occurred relative to the application of regulations in a fair and transparent manner or in the issuance of environmental permits during Secretary Quigley’s tenure.”
Sen. Aument referenced the public release of a private email Secretary Quigley sent to an environmental advocacy firm he once worked for citing his frustration that environmental groups were not helping push through more stringent environmental rules concerning oil and natural gas production.
The email reads as follows:
I’ve slept on this but can no longer hold back.
Where the [expletive] were you people yesterday? The House and Senate hold Russian show trails on vital environmental issues and there’s no pushback at all from the environmental community? Nobody bothering to insert themselves in the news cycle?
Is there no penalty for D apostasy, at least, or shaming of the gas-shilling Rs? Apparently so.
Do some of you think that staying on your moratorium hobby horse does anything to advance the cause of protecting the environment and public health?
Do you really think the Governor will veto this [expletive] with NO support?
The environment community is without influence in Harrisburg. What will you do about it?
“This email raises serious and substantive questions about Secretary Quigley’s ability to appropriately apply environmental law through regulation during his tenure,” said Sen. Aument. “As I said when I voted against Mr. Quigley’s nomination last year, regulatory agencies should not be led by advocates or ideologues. The people, businesses and industry that are environmentally regulated are entitled to a fair hearing for permits and should expect that regulations are enacted that implement, not supplant, the laws of Pennsylvania.”
Senator Aument, joined by three other members of the Senate, voted against confirming Secretary Quigley on June 3, 2015.
At the time, Sen. Aument noted that he had serious concerns about Mr. Quigley’s ability to strike an appropriate balance between environmental regulation and economic development, and that he would take an extreme approach with local farmers on issues like federal pollution reduction mandates. Sen. Aument also recounted that Mr. Quigley declined to answer written questions that were submitted to him, leaving, “…doubt as to his intentions to pursue a balanced energy strategy in his new post.”
“Unfortunately, recent events have proven my early predictions accurate,” said Sen. Aument.
Sen. Aument said that he has heard from many constituents in Lancaster County and industries across Pennsylvania who expressed frustration with the DEP since he took office relative to the development of responsible and appropriate environmental regulations and the fair issuance of environmental permits.
“Given Secretary Quigley’s open advocacy against any Democrat or Republican lawmaker who happens to disagree with his personal positions, it naturally raises questions about whether he used his influence as the head of the DEP to manipulate regulations or effect environmental permits,” said Sen. Aument.
“Based on what we now know, we owe it to the people of Pennsylvania to investigate the matter to ensure our Commonwealth’s regulators are acting appropriately,” said Sen. Aument. “The individuals who lead our state agencies and departments are responsible for managing billions of taxpayer dollars and meeting the needs of millions of residents, and should act in a manner befitting those serious responsibilities.”
CONTACT: Jake Smeltz, (717) 787-4420