Shepstone Management Company, Inc.
John Quigley, Tom Wolf’s DEP Secretary and one of three PennFuture activists put in charge of Pennsylvania’s energy policy has resigned in ignominy.
When Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf said he wanted John Quigley to be his new Secretary for the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) I asked which John Quigley we were talking about – the humorless environmental activist and consultant from PennFuture or the pragmatic administrator with the business background? I suggested the former DCNR Secretary who had previously left to do William Penn Foundation dirty work at PennFuture displayed a split personality in that regard; stating we’d have to wait until the real John Quigley stood up, hoping he was telling the truth to the senators who unfortunately confirmed him.
He has, in fact, now stood up and resigned after a little more than a year in office, the real John Quigley having exposed himself in e-mails as the man sent into DEP to sabotage it and impose the environmental extremism espoused by him and his true believer friends.
The resignation of John Quigley is all over the news this morning, but the best analysis may well be this Philly.com piece, which offers some fascinating insights into the reasons for his sudden resignation. It turns out the guy was apparently still conspiring with his friends at PennFuture because shortly after Quigley sent out private e-mails to “advocacy groups,” entities such as PennFuture, PennEnvironment and the Natural Resources Defense Council were suddenly putting out print and radio advertisements to urge an end to delays, supported by both Republican and Democratic state senators, in regard to his proposed new oil and gas regulations. The ads targeted Democratic Sen. John Yudichak (D., Luzerne), the ranking Democrat on the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee and a gas supporter (although he was a severance tax supporter as well).
John Quigley is a humorless true believer, like so many on the extremes of the environmental movement and he was determined to push through his new regulations despite serious reservations by legislators on both sides of the aisle. He was repeatedly told the regulations were highly flawed for, among other reasons, treating conventional oil and gas operators the same as shale operators, even though there are significant differences in the nature and scale of the activities.
The regulations will have enormous negative impact on the conventional operators and Quigley would hear none of it. He bulled ahead with a furrowed brow like an animal possessed. He somehow even managed to intimidate the state’s Independent Regulatory Review Commission, a heretofore non-partisan group, into approving the new regulations in a divided vote last month, leaving the legislature no choice but to take action themselves to halt the regs until they could be further examined.
Quigley was apparently furious and having none of it, launching his own campaign against the legislature using private e-mails to his environmental extremist friends, One wonders how many times public officials need to get caught using private e-mails to conspire with former allies before they learn, but that’s another story. The real point here is two-fold.
First, it’s now become absolutely clear what PennFuture (which is really just an arm of the Haas and Heinz families, like StateImpactPA, the Clean Air Council, the Delaware Povertykeeper, et al) was doing. It was infiltrating state government and pushing its own special interest agenda. John Quigley perceived himself not as an objective administrator but as an advocate with an opportunity to advance that agenda. He loyalties and his temperament both made him ill-suited to the job of DEP Secretary. Wolf should have known better than to appoint him and senators should have known better than to confirm him.
Secondly, what we see here and in so many other cases today is a disconcerting disregard for the rule of law in favor of the exercise of raw power. Quigley’s sins hardly rise to the level of Eric Schneiderman’s in New York, but they are of the same character and they involve one of the same parties; the NRDC. The NRDC is the chief instrument of a modern era plutocracy. The members of that plutocracy – the Haas, Heinz, Park and Rockefeller families being chief among them – constitute a handful of wealthy elitists determined to impose their will by whatever means it takes. They are using raw power and have thrown law, process and rights to the wind as they push public officials around the chess board like pawns. John Quigley’s failing was thinking he was more than a pawn and so he was caught in his own trap. Now they will purge him and forget him. He’s history.
It is important we not forget, though, and that we call this stuff out, demanding Tom Wolf do better with his replacement appointment than he did with this one. We must also demand our senators stand up and refuse to appoint any more John Quigley types. Enough. Fight back!