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Abruzzo lays out experience, background to be DEP’s leader

Secretary also addresses climate-change comments

E. Christopher Abruzzo is secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. - (Photo / Submitted)

The state Senate last month confirmed Gov. Tom Corbett’s choice, E. Christopher Abruzzo, as secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.

One of the things Abruzzo said he has learned as a member of the “regulated community” — a term he used to reference his time as a supervisor in Derry Township — is that the unintended consequences of policy and regulation that environmental regulators put in place typically are what cause industry to struggle.

“We’ve shifted (at DEP) the paradigm a little bit to make sure we are examining not only the intended consequences but also the unintended consequences. And if we do that well, then we really do create a win-win,” he said.

Abruzzo served as acting secretary of the department for most of 2013.

Q: Please tell me a little bit about your background before your nomination to become secretary of DEP, and how has that prepared you for the job you’ve now been confirmed to do?

A: I was very involved with a lot of the development of this agency (as deputy chief of staff for Gov. Tom Corbett) … including a lot of the public policy that we developed.

I really became very familiar with the workings of the agency, the staff of the agency, and really the subject matter that all of the many people who work here at DEP work on.

During this same period of time as I served as a prosecutor and later as a deputy chief of staff, I had been serving as a township supervisor in Derry Township (in Dauphin County), and … I had the unique opportunity to be part of the regulated community that DEP oversees … so I’ve seen DEP from both sides.

On a personal level, what has your interest in environmental protection been?

It’s not a stretch when I say that the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania helped really power an industrial revolution. And we did it through coal … and if you travel around Pennsylvania, you’ll see a lot of the scars of the past, a lot of those environmental scars.

Our grandparents, without truly understanding the impacts of what they were doing, really left for us an environmental legacy that has its problems. We’re still trying to correct those problems.

Brent Burkey

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