Subscribe to E-Newsletter December 12, 2013

Dear Friends,

Senator Andy DinnimanMany of you reached out to me to oppose Chris Abruzzo as the next secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. Please know that I voted “No” to Mr. Abruzzo’s confirmation on Dec. 10.

I opposed Mr. Abruzzo’s confirmation because of his recent remarks about climate change and also because of his unsatisfactory response to concerns I raised about the growing number of natural-gas pipeline projects throughout Chester County.

First in terms of climate change, Mr. Abruzzo testified on December 4 that he knew of no adverse impacts on humans, animals or plants and that anyway, Pennsylvania was doing “its fair share” to address climate change.

I disagree with Mr. Abruzzo on both counts.

The year 2012 was the 36th consecutive year that the global temperature was above average, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. And it was the warmest year on record for the continental United States. That year Western wildfires caused an estimated $1 billion in damage, and such fires burned more than 9.3 million acres nationwide.

Higher temperatures also affect public health – often in the form of cardiovascular and respiratory diseases. The higher the temperature the higher the concentration of ground-level ozone, which in turn increases the severity of asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and other respiratory ailments.

These are just some of climate change’s adverse effects that I believe Pennsylvania’s top environmental official should be aware of. Because Mr. Abruzzo was unaware, I voted against his confirmation.

The other reason I voted against Mr. Abruzzo relates to the growing number of natural-gas pipelines cutting through Chester County. More and more are being constructed to carry natural gas from the Marcellus Shale to coastal markets or to ports for export. Their construction brings obvious negative effects to our natural resources – in the form of lost trees and vegetation, increased soil erosion and potentially harmful crossings of our rivers and streams – and property values.

In a private meeting and at a Dec. 4 public hearing, I asked Mr. Abruzzo about legislation to better protect natural resources from pipeline projects and to better notify residents when pipeline projects are proposed for their communities.

While Mr. Abruzzo testified on Dec. 4 that he would take a “leadership role” in dealing with these issues, he showed less enthusiasm to specific steps I proposed, such as having pipeline companies replace protected lands that are harmed by their pipelines, having companies ensure that pipeline projects do not worsen local stormwater problems, and having the DEP post more pipeline-project information on its website so it’s more accessible to the public.

One positive to come out of this recently completed confirmation process was the public discussion of critical environmental issues, including climate change and the impacts of natural gas pipelines. While clean air, water and soil are global issues, critical decisions are often made at the local or state levels – be they the siting of a natural-gas pipeline or the selection of Pennsylvania’s top environmental official.

Thank you again for contacting me prior to this important vote. Be assured that I will continue to work with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, local organizations and individuals to safeguard Pennsylvania’s and Chester County’s natural treasures.


Andy Dinniman
State Senator - 19th District


Offices of State Senator Andy Dinniman


District Office
One North Church Street
West Chester, PA 19380
Phone: 610.692.2112
Fax: 610.436.1721
Monday-Friday: 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Harrisburg Office
Senate Box 203019
183 Capitol Building
Harrisburg, PA 17120-3019
Phone: 717.787.5709
Fax: 717.787.4384

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