On January 3, the first day of the new legislative session, Gov. Tom Wolf resubmitted the nomination of Acting Secretary of Environmental Protection Patrick McDonnell to serve permanently in that role, pending approval by the Pennsylvania Senate.
Mr. McDonnell has served as Acting Secretary since May 20 of last year. He was formally nominated by Gov. Wolf as Secretary on September 21 of last year, but the Senate ran out of time to act on his nomination.
Last September, Gov. Wolf said of his nomination-- “In his acting capacity and throughout his career, Patrick has been a dedicated steward of the environment and a leader in advancing Pennsylvania’s energy development in a responsible way. I trust Patrick to lead the Department of Environmental Protection in a way that protects our Commonwealth’s land, water and air and ensures the department continues to make progress in the areas of innovation, responsible development and working with legislators, industry and advocates in a collaborative and productive way.”
Prior to his appointment as Acting Secretary, Mr. McDonnell served Director of Policy for the Department of Environmental Protection, where he oversaw the agency’s regulation and policy development processes.
In addition, Mr. McDonnell ran the State Energy Office and was charged with coordination of renewable energy and energy efficiency issues.
Prior to returning to DEP, Mr. McDonnell was executive policy manager for former Commissioner Pamela A. Witmer of the Public Utility Commission, focusing on electric, natural gas and water issues as well as cybersecurity and the impact of environmental regulation on energy markets.
Previously, Mr. McDonnell spent 13 years with DEP in a variety of roles. As Deputy Secretary for Administration, he managed the budget, human resources, information technology and oversaw the facilities management functions of the agency. He also previously served as Policy Director and as an Assistant to the Special Deputy Secretary.
He began his career at DEP working in the State Energy Office on energy efficiency, renewable energy, and green building projects.
Mr. McDonnell received his Master’s degree in Political Science from Lehigh University and his Bachelor’s Degree in Politics from DeSales University.
The Senate has 25 legislative days to act on the nomination or May 10, given the current session schedule. When the Senate convenes on Monday, January 30 the nomination will be on day #4.Typically nominations are referred to the standing committee with jurisdiction, in this case the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, but the nomination was not referred yet because all the paperwork was not complete until last week.