HARRISBURG — Gov. Tom Corbett Thursday “asked for and received” the resignation of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Richard J. Allan, a native of Wilkes-Barre.
Allan, 60, of Cumberland County, has served as a member of the cabinet since March 2011.
Dallas native Ellen Ferretti, deputy secretary for Parks and Forestry, will serve as acting secretary, effective immediately.
Neither Allan nor Ferretti returned calls Thursday.
Kevin Harley, Corbett’s press secretary, declined comment, saying it was “a personnel matter.”
Harley did tell the Associated Press Allan’s departure “has nothing to do with any public policy. It was strictly a personnel issue.”
Allan, of Camp Hill, was appointed to Corbett’s cabinet in early 2011. He did not respond to messages at his home in Camp Hill, and a message was left at the department’s press office. His brother, John Allan, runs the family’s scrap metal business, Allan Industries in Wilkes-Barre Township.
Allan is a graduate of Nanticoke High School and Wilkes College.
The AP story said DCNR manages the state parks and forests and has recently faced public opposition over potential drilling for natural gas in the 100,000-acre Loyalsock State Forest. Some 500 people attended a public hearing on the issue last week, with opponents arguing the land was a public trust and voicing particular concern for drilling near Rock Run, a pristine stream, the story said.
Sierra Club Pennsylvania Chapter Director Jeff Schmidt issued a statement that said the organization believes Corbett’s request for Allan’s resignation is at least in part a result of “the lack of transparency and willingness to involve the public” in DCNR’s public lands management decisions.
Schmidt cited the Anadarko Petroleum Company’s desire to drill for natural gas in pristine parts of the Loyalsock State Forest in Lycoming County.
“Under Secretary Allan’s leadership, DCNR has been engaging in backroom negotiations with Anadarko, while refusing to provide the public important details about Anadarko’s plans,” Schmidt said. “Our environmental and sportsmen’s coalition representing more than 100,000 Pennsylvanians has been frustrated by Secretary Allan’s stonewalling and hostility to public involvement.”
Schmidt said the Sierra Club “applauds” Corbett’s decision to remove “a cabinet secretary who has grossly mishandled public involvement, and shown open hostility to established public lands stakeholder organizations.”
Allan was a founding member of Back Mountain Recreation Inc., a recreation and environmental facility in Luzerne County. He was also a founding member of the North Branch Land Trust, which provides management to more than 10,000 acres of land in Northeastern Pennsylvania.
Since 1991, Allan served as executive director for the Pennsylvania, Maryland and Delaware members of the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, the national trade association that represents the recycling industry. Since 2005, he has also been a consultant to energy producers in the electric, wind, solar and coal sectors.
Allan has served on the boards of the Pennsylvania Environmental Council and Pennsylvania Resources Council since 2000. He was also a member of the energy and environmental committees for Corbett’s transition team.