Flight 93 crash on September 11th. The Quecreek mining disaster. These twin disasters took place during Dave Hess’s tenure as Secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection, a career in environmental stewardship that began long before those cataclysmic 2001 events.
Spurred by the first Earth Day in 1970, an 18-year old David Hess began working as an intern at Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Resources (a predecessor to the state’s DEP) during his summers between semesters at Shippensburg University before moving on to the Department of Environmental Resources’ policy and legislation offices after receiving his master’s degree. He became the Republican executive director of the state Senate’s Environmental Resources and Energy Committee in 1989 working alongside members of the General Assembly pursuing bipartisan environmental policy goals with officials from both parties.
His role in those two twin disasters referenced above, the balance of his storied career at DER and DEP, and post-retirement founding of the vitally important PA Environment Digest blog are related in a fascinating January 2024 profile from Inside Climate News: