Thursday, October 26, 2023

DEP Secretary Negrin Resigns Effective Dec. 8, On Medical Leave; Jessica Shirley Named Interim Acting Secretary

October 26, ABC27 News reported DEP Secretary Richard Negrin resigned his position and is on medical leave until December 8.

In an October 26 email to DEP employees, Acting Secretary Shirley confirmed “there has been a leadership change” and she will lead the agency until a replacement is named.

Jessica Shirley

Jessica Shirley was named Acting Executive Deputy Secretary at DEP in February 2023. 

She joined the DEP Policy Office in 2011 and worked as the Policy Director and most recently served as the Infrastructure Implementation Coordinator for programs related to the federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Act. 

Prior to joining DEP she worked in the Department of Labor and Industry on workforce development, labor law compliance and unemployment compensation issues from 2010 to 2011.

She also held a Graduate Policy Intern position in the Governor’s Office of Policy and Planning in 2009 and an Undergraduate Policy Intern position in the Department of Public Welfare in 2006.

She received her Master's Degree in Public Administration from Penn State (2009) and her Bachelor's Degree in Economics and Political Science from Indiana University of Pennsylvania (2006). 

Richard Negrin

Richard Negrin served as Acting Secretary of DEP from January 17 until he was confirmed by the Senate on June 27.  He is the first Latino to hold that position.

During his tenure, Secretary Negrin announced and was implementing--

-- A 10-point plan to speed permit reviews;

-- A new Environmental Justice Strategy;

-- A new Customer Service Strategy;

-- A new Enforcement Strategy; and

-- Policies putting a priority on dealing with Climate Change.

Click Here for more details.

After just a few weeks in office, Negrin led the environmental response to the February 3 Norfolk Southern train derailment impacting Beaver and Lawrence counties and later helped guide DEP’s response to a March 25 spill of more than 8,000 gallons of hazardous chemicals in a tributary to the Delaware River and the August 12 fatal natural gas explosion that destroyed and damaged homes in Plum Borough, Allegheny County.

In May, DEP signed a $10 million penalty and community assistance agreement with the Shell Petrochemical Plant in Beaver County, outlining a new policy of making sure major penalty agreements benefited communities impacted directly by pollution.

In June, DEP supported legislation giving DEP the authority to evaluate the cumulative impacts of certain polluting industries in communities already burdened by pollution and to deny permits, if needed, to protect those communities.

Secretary Negrin formed a work group at DEP to develop proposals to implement the recommendations in the 2020 Grand Jury Report released by then Attorney General Shapiro to make regulations covering the oil and gas industry more protective of public health and the environment.  Read more here.

As part of an effort to educate himself on the impacts of the unconventional shale gas industry, Negrin took a tour of fracking and gas infrastructure sites in Southwest Pennsylvania organized by local residents and public interest groups.

DEP is also considering major changes to the way conventional oil and gas operators are regulated through regulation and program changes, including considering a ban on road dumping of conventional well wastewater.  Read more here.

As part of Hispanic Heritage Month, Secretary Negrin said in an interview with Impacto Media his priority is working to intervene proactively in environmental issues with the goal of preventing further environmental crises from occurring.  Read more here.

On October 18, he and Gov. Shapiro marked the plugging of the 100th conventional oil and gas well as part of the new federal funded abandoned well plugging program.

Secretary Negrin frequently highlighted the importance of the state’s Environmental Rights Amendment and its guarantee to citizens of clean air and pure water in describing the obligations of the agency and the Shapiro Administration.  Read more here.

He had a copy of the Amendment language hanging in his office.


-- ABC27: DEP Secretary Richard Negrin Resigns, On Medical Leave; Jessica Shirley Appointed Interim Acting Secretary

-- Inquirer: PA’s Environmental Protection Secretary Resigns From Shapiro Administration

-- PennLive: DEP Secretary Negrin To Resign Following 6-Week Medical Leave

-- StateImpactPA: Rich Negrin, DEP Secretary, Has Resigned

[Posted: October 26, 2023]  PA Environment Digest

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