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Corbett DEP pick to defend remarks to Senate Democrats

Gov. Corbett's pick to run the state's Department of Environmental Protection is taking his case to Democrats in the Senate today ahead of his confirmation vote..

UPDATE -  My colleague Angela Couloumbis caught up with Chris Abruzzo as he was leaving the Democratic caucus meeting this afternoon. He told her "it was a good informative dialogue" and that he felt he was able to clarify comments he made last week about climate change.

" I was able to at least more clearly to delineate for the members of the caucus where I stand," he said. "I acknowledged that there are impacts." Abruzzo said he is concerned about manmade factors that may contribute to climate change and agreed there is an impact "from things like air pollution" on human health.

He went on to say that he believes he went further on the issue than his predecessor Michael Krancer. "I think I have gone further than my predecessor in acknowledging the issue and I think I made that clear in the hearing."

And we correct the balance of power in the Senate. The GOP controls the chamber by a 27-23 margin.


Gov. Corbett's pick to run the state's Department of Environmental Protection is taking his case to Democrats in the Senate today ahead of his expected Tuesday confirmation vote.

Chris Abruzzo, a former prosecutor in the Attorney General's office, has been acting DEP secretary since the departure of Michael Kranzer last spring.

He touched off controversy at a Senate Judiciary Committee last week, when he told lawmakers he was unaware of any "adverse impacts" of climate change to human beings or animals.

In a letter, Sen. Daylin Leach (D., Montgomery) - the lone "no" vote on the committee against Abruzzo - called him a "climate change denier.

The flap prompted calls from newspapers and, not surprisingly,at least two Democratic gubernatorial candidates, John Hanger and Allyson Schwartz, for Corbett to withdraw Abruzzo's name from contention

Today Abruzzo is slated to appear at the Senate Democratic caucus meeting for a Q&A, sources tell us.

Does this mean that Abruzzo feels he needs Democratic support? The GOP holds a 27-23 majority in the chamber and only a simple majority is needed for confirmation.

Meanwhile, another top Corbett official created a fresh round of controversy trying to defend Abruzzo. Patrick Henderson, Corbett's Energy Executive, a post created by Corbett when he took office in 2011.

In an October interview with StateImpact PA, Henderson called climate change an "evolving science."

Then after the Abruzzo flap, Henderson offered bullet points to try to back that up. He also took a shot at Penn State professor of meterology Michael Mann, calling him  "a discredited climate changer."

That set off a new barrage of criticism of Henderson, specifically from former DEP Secretary John Hanger who called for Henderson's removal and for the Corbett administration to apologize to Mann.

StateImpact ran a fact check on Henderson's remarks about carbon emissions, hurricane prevelance and severity and the state of the polar ice caps. Here's what they found.

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