Advocates: Conduct A Nationwide Search For Next DEC Commissioner


DEC Headquarters in AlbanyWith the news that Basil Seggos, the current Commissioner of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), is going to step down within the next two months, Protect the Adirondacks is calling upon Governor Kathy Hochul to conduct a nationwide search for the next DEC Commissioner.

“With the many challenges facing New York’s environment and DEC’s serious environmental responsibilities, it’s critical that the next DEC Commissioner have a proven track record in successful management of an environmental agency, including assuring transparency and open engagement with the public, and a demonstrated commitment to upholding environmental laws and respecting court decisions,” Protect said in a statement sent to the press.

Prior to being named DEC Commissioner, Seggos was a top environmental aid to then Governor Andrew Cuomo, who installed him at the DEC without a nationwide search. The position of DEC Commissioner is one of the top environmental posts in the United States.

“Unfortunately, recent appointees to the post have been selected as the result of a secretive political process in which political and personal loyalty were the main criteria,” the statement said. “Protect the Adirondacks calls upon Governor Hochul to break this chain of Albany-insider self-dealing and make New York’s environmental protection her top priority by conducting a nationwide search for a seasoned environmental professional.”

“One of the hallmarks of recent years in the Adirondack Park is that the Department of Environmental Conservation and Adirondack Park Agency routinely cut corners and subvert the environmental laws they are supposed to uphold,” said Peter Bauer, Executive Director of Protect the Adirondacks. “Under Basil Seggos, the DEC was found to have violated Article 14, the forever wild clause, of the state constitution and regularly bent and stretched environmental laws in order to meet his political objectives. The Adirondack Park Agency has done the same. Under Seggos, the DEC has adopted a bunker mentality that excludes and evades public scrutiny and accountability and lacks transparency. We need fresh, new leadership at the DEC that will bring not only proven experience in managing a complex environmental regulatory agency, but also has a proven track record of upholding the rule of law and a commitment to reopening public engagement.”

“With the vast challenges facing New York State, now is not the time for another political appointment to the state’s top environmental job. The DEC is already top-heavy with political appointments, and we need a leader for New York’s top environmental agency who will be guided by science and who will scrupulously uphold New York’s environmental laws. This person must set an example throughout DEC that fidelity to the law is their top priority, not politics, not political deal making,” said Claudia Braymer, Deputy Director of Protect the Adirondacks.

Photo: DEC’s Headquarters on Broadway in Albany.

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