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Senate Committee Reports Out Nomination of McGinty as Secretary of DEP

The Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee held a hearing this week on the nomination of Kathleen McGinty as Secretary for Environmental Protection and unanimously rreported her nomination to the full Senate.

The Committee is chaired by Sen. Mary Jo White (R-Venango) and Sen. Ray Musto (D-Luzerne).

Secretary McGinty was asked a number of questions before the Committee voted on her nomination, including:

Landfill Moratorium: In response to a question from Sen. White on whether DEP supported a moratorium on issuing new or expanded landfill permits, Secretary McGinty said she thought the agency has “all the appropriate tolls” it needs to deal effectively with regulating landfills, noting her agency had approved some permits and rejected others based on their potential harms and benfits.

Mine Safety Legislation: Sen. Musto expressed his support for updating mine safety legislation saying he was glad to see representatives of mine workers and the coal industry working together on the proposal, but asked when DEP would have its comments on the proposal. Secretary McGinty said they were still several weeks away from completing a review, but thought its review would be finished by mid-April.  Updating mine safety legislation was one of the recommendations resulting from the investigations surrounding the Quecreek Mine Rescue in 2002.

Water Resources Planning: Secretary McGinty told Sen. Musto she thought the agency would meet the March 2008 deadline to complete a statewide water resources plan as required by Act 220, including what she called some very sophisticated hydrogeologic tools.

COALs Program: Sen. Rhoades (R-Schuylkill) received assurances from Secretary McGinty that the COALs Program that promotes community action to combat dumping and littering in rural areas will continue and be expanded.

Scientific Capacity: Sen. Erickson (R-Delaware) asked if DEP had the scientific expertise it needed to develop regulations based on the latest science, adding the recent experience with DEP’s proposed mercury rule indicated it was not adhereing to the latest body of knowledge available on the topic, but rather picked only the portion it liked to justify the rule. Secretary McGinty differed with the Senator saying she thought they had looked at the science as part of developing the rule and that DEP had the scientific staff it needed to make decisions.

Recommendation on PUC Chairman: Sen. White asked if Secretary McGinty had ever made a recommendation to Gov. Rendell that Public Utility Chairman Wendell Holland not be reappointed based on his comments on DEP’s proposed mercury rule. Secretary McGinty noted Holland voted for the rule (after expressing concerns a both the proposed and final stages) and said she could not comment further on personnel issues without the permission of the Governor.

When asked if she intended to serve the entire four year term, Secretary McGinty said that was her intention, although she does get job inquiries from time to time.

Online video of the hearing is available on the Committee’s webpage.

Secretary McGinty’s opening statement is available online.


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