Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection Secretary John Quigley resigned on Friday following a controversial email he sent to environmental groups. The email contained expletives and other impassioned language, and chastised environmental groups for not doing enough to support several of the department’s recent environmental initiatives.
“He sent this email in April after some legislative committees had taken some votes to block environmental regulations for oil and gas drilling, as well as a vote to give themselves some more power over the federal Clean Power Plan—which is designed to curtail greenhouse gas emissions,” says StateImpact Pennsylvania’s Marie Cusick. “So Quigley was pretty angry that this had happened, and he felt like environmental groups hadn’t really stepped up and said much about it.”
The email surfaced about a month later. But Cusick says people close to the situation are saying the email scandal was just the last straw. Quigley had a problematic relationship with both the governor’s office and the legislature.
Now that Quigley is out, it could throw the state’s updated oil and gas regulations into limbo.
“Although he was a polarizing figure, he certainly was seen as a very strong advocate for environmental causes,” she says. “Many people have mentioned that the conventional oil and gas industry has really fought these regulations tooth and nail. So there’s a lot of speculation right now that these conventional regulations just might get thrown out.”