Pennsylvania’s New Head Of Environmental Protection Doesn’t Think Climate Change Is Harmful

Acting DEP Head Chris Abruzzo CREDIT: Pennsylvania DEP
Acting DEP Head Chris Abruzzo CREDIT: Pennsylvania DEP

The new head of Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection doesn’t think the environment needs to be protected from climate change.

Chris Abruzzo, Pennsylvania’s Acting DEP secretary, said during his confirmation hearing with the state’s Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee Wednesday that he didn’t think climate change was harmful, StateImpact Pennsylvania reports.

“I’ve not read any scientific studies that would lead me to conclude there are adverse impacts to human beings, animals, or plant life at this small level of climate change,” Abruzzo said.


When pressed by Pennsylvania Sen. Daylin Leach (D., Montgomery) on whether he hadn’t read the numerous news stories over the years on “the immediate and drastic results of climate change on species’ diversity, on human sustainability, on deaths from air pollution, on all kinds of things,” Abruzzo conceded that he believed climate change exists, but still didn’t think it posed a major risk.

“Climate change is such a broad topic. I would say that I haven’t drawn any conclusions across the board,” he said. “I do agree that it exists, and I think that there are things that we, not only as Pennsylvanians, but we as Americans and we as citizens of the planet can do to address some of the factors that contribute to climate change.”

Pennsylvania, Abruzzo said, is already doing its “fair share” to combat climate change and didn’t need to change its policies.

Sen. Leach, the only Senate member to vote against Abruzzo, said the acting DEP head’s comments on climate change were “mind-blowing.”

“This is a reflection of what I view to be a lack of seriousness with which the governor treats environmental issues,” Leach said. “It’s just not a serious nomination.”


Abruzzo, who formerly served as Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett’s deputy chief of staff, displays a stance on climate change that isn’t much different than that of his DEP predecessor’s. Earlier this year, Michael Krancer, Pennsylvania’s former DEP secretary, said that though he did agree that the world was getting warmer, he thought there was “no uniformity within the scientific community on how much the warming is occurring,” and “no agreement about how much is attributable to the human part of it and how much is attributable to other factors” (in fact, 97 percent of climate scientists agree that the warming observed over the past century is due to human activities).

It also doesn’t stray far from the stance of Gov. Corbett, who has shifted the blame for climate change onto other countries, such as China, and has denounced President Obama’s recent climate change plan as a “war on coal.”

Marc McDill, a Penn State University forestry professor and co-author of Pennsylvania’s Climate Impacts Assessment — a document that the DEP tried to suppress — said there is “very, very strong” evidence that Pennsylvania’s climate will change drastically as the earth warms, becoming more like Virginia’s by 2050 and more like Georgia’s by 2100.