HARRISBURG -- Two acting secretaries of state environmental agencies have been nominated by Gov. Tom Corbett to serve as secretaries.
Mr. Corbett on Friday nominated Ellen Ferretti of Luzerne County as secretary of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and E. Christopher Abruzzo of Dauphin County as secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection.
Both nominations must be approved by the state Senate.
Ms. Ferretti, 56, had been serving as deputy secretary for parks and forestry until she was named acting secretary of DCNR in June. The previous secretary had been asked to resign over a racially charged email.
Ms. Ferretti also had previously served as director of environmental resources at Borton-Lawson Engineering, as a land protection specialist for The Nature Conservancy; and as a project manager at Westinghouse Environmental and Geotechnical Services Inc.
Mr. Abruzzo, 46, does not come from an environmental background and was serving as Mr. Corbett's deputy chief of staff until he was appointed acting secretary of the DEP in April, which has caused consternation among some environmental groups.
"He's not someone who has the experience or background to be DEP secretary," said Myron Arnowitt, state director for Clean Water Action, noting Mr. Abruzzo's background in the attorney general's office.
During Mr. Abruzzo's 15 years in the attorney general's office, he prosecuted and supervised cases involving white collar crime, drug investigation and Medicaid fraud. Mr. Arnowitt said he was disappointed the governor had not nominated a secretary with more environmental training.
"As a manager, he's been an improvement over former Secretary [Michael] Krancer and has listened to more voices. He just doesn't have experience with environmental policy," said Mr. Arnowitt, referring to the previous DEP secretary who left to return to a job with a law/lobbying firm.
State Rep. Greg Vitali, D-Delaware County, an environmental advocate who has been critical of the Corbett administration on gas drilling and other issues, praised the nominees. "I've found them both to be very generous with their time," said Mr. Vitali, the ranking Democrat on the House Environmental Resource and Energy Committee.
The DEP is charged with administering the state's environmental laws and regulations; the DCNR's mission is to maintain and preserve Pennsylvania's 120 state parks as well as managing 2.2 million acres of state forest land.
Kate Giammarise: email@example.com or 1-717-787-4254 or on Twitter @KateGiammarise.