Former DEP Head Tapped as Wolf's Chief of Staff

  • Newly appointed Chief of Staff Katie McGinty; Governor-elect Tom Wolf.

November 14, 2014

Former Pennsylvania DEP secretary Katie McGinty failed to win the Democratic nomination for Pennsylvania Governor last spring, but she has nabbed one of the top spots in Governor-elect Tom Wolf's administration. That could have implications for how the state moves forward on energy and environmental issues.

In an interview with The Allegheny Front in May, McGinty said, “If environment is your issue, I’m your candidate.”

Now that she’s been tapped as chief of staff to Tom Wolf, she says one of the new governor’s first priorities will be to get the state’s fiscal house in order. McGinty told 90.5 WESA that one way to do that is to tax natural gas drillers.

"That Marcellus shale severance tax (will) enable us to put money back in our schools, rehire the tens of thousands of people that have been fired, and start doing right by our kids again."

Wolf has said his proposal, a 5 percent tax on gas produced in Pennsylvania, would raise up to a billion dollars a year.

The Democratic administration is expected to face an uphill battle pushing its agenda in a Republican dominated legislature. McGinty’s appointment, "bodes well," according to Democratic strategist T.J. Rooney. "(Wolf) is putting someone in charge who can help him get stuff done," Rooney says.

McGinty spent five years advising the Clinton administration on environmental issues. She became the chief of Pennsylvania’s DEP under Governor Ed Rendell as the Marcellus shale industry started to take off in the state. She also helped usher in an alternative energy portfolio standardto ensure a market for renewable energy like solar and wind. McGinty told the The Allegheny Front in May that the legislation created 3000 jobs in Pennsylvania.

“One thing I think that’s critically important is that we break down the myth that if you protect the environment, you’re bad for jobs. My entire career, I have showed time and time again that that’s not true," she said.

In recent years, McGinty has worked in the private sector, with a variety of energy companies. She will, of course, have to follow the agenda of new Governor Tom Wolf. But Democrat campaign expert Dan Fee says her experience is expected to bring "depth and nuance" to environmental and energy issues in Pennsylvania.