A former gas drilling company executive has been named to a top post in the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.
Brian Grove, who until recently worked for Chesapeake Energy, has been named deputy secretary of administration for DCNR - the agency charged with protecting natural resources on 2.5 milllion acres of forest and park land statewide.
DCNR spokeswoman Christine Novak said the agency sees no conflict with the hiring because Grove had worked in government prior to going to Chesapeake - one of the most active Marcellus Shale drilling companies - as its senior director of corporate development.
She also said his new job entails overseeing human resources and information technology and plays no role in the agency's land management operations.
"HIs background is more varied than that one experience," Novak said. "This role has no oversight of decision making on gas development in state forests or parks.
Nevertheless, at least one environmental group was concerned about the appointment.
"We would wish that DCNR would look to people with background in public lands management experience rather than gas drilling," said Jeff Schmidt, president of the Sierra Club of Pennsylvania.
Acting DCNR secretary Ellen Ferretti had no public land management experience before she was named as deputy for parks and forestry by then Secretary. Richard Allan.
She was elevated following Allan's firing by Gov. Corbett in June in a scanda over a racially-charged email. Ferretti has not yet been confirmed for the Senate, nor has the agency filled her post which oversees land management.
There is currently a moratorium on new leases in state forests but there are ongoing battle over existing leases such as the one held by gas drilling company Anadarko in the Loyalsock State Forest near Williamsport. The agency currently oversees natural gas drilling operations in thousands of acres of state forest land and non-Marcellus Shale wells that exist in state parks.
Grove replaces John Giordano who took a job with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, Novak said.
Prior to joining Chesapeake Grove served as chief of staff for Sen. Lisa Baker (R., Luzerne) and worked in administrations of Governors Tom Ridge and Mark Schweiker.
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