PA’s new environmental chief said he was unaware that there are “adverse impacts” of climate change

Gov. Tom Corbett's pick later acknowledged that "things like air pollution" can be harmful

Topics: Climate Change, Tom Corbett, Air pollution, Pennsylvania, ,

PA's new environmental chief said he was unaware that there are "adverse impacts" of climate changeTom Corbett (Credit: AP/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

This should have been the first sign (and really, the only one needed) that Chris Abruzzo is unqualified to be Pennsylvania’s new secretary of environmental protection: During his confirmation hearing with the state’s Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee last week, he said the following:

“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.”

The only logical conclusion being, of course, that Abruzzo’s either never read any scientific study at all, or he’s relying on seriously questionable sources for his information.

Abruzzo, who was nominated to the position by Gov. Tom Corbett (R), then went on to explain that he does believe climate change is occurring and is “partially” attributable to human activity (how partial, he didn’t say).

However, he added, since climate change is a global problem, he believed Pennsylvania was already doing its “fair share” in combating it. Under his tenure, he said, he wouldn’t pursue new policies to address climate change.

Abruzzo partially retracted his comments later on in an interview with, in which he “acknowledged that there are impacts” and agreed that “things like air pollution” can be harmful to humans. He also insisted that he was more forward-thinking on the issue than his predecessor, Michael Krancer. And yes, by that measure, he’s downright progressive.

Which is perhaps why, as ThinkProgress reports, the Senate Wednesday confirmed Abruzzo’s nomination 42-8.

Lindsay Abrams

Lindsay Abrams is a staff writer at Salon, reporting on all things sustainable. Follow her on Twitter @readingirl, email

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