David E. Hess, who served as Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection for nearly two years beginning in April 2001, led the agency responsible for the successful rescue of nine trapped miners at the Quecreek Mine in Somerset County in 2002 and helped guide the environmental response to the crash of Flight 93 in the same county on September 11, 2001.
Prior to serving as Secretary, Mr. Hess was DEP Executive Deputy Secretary for Policy and Communications, the number two post in the agency. During his eight-year tenure, PA DEP received more national and international awards for excellence and innovation from the United Nations, the Ford Foundation, Harvard University, the Council of State Governments, Resources for the Future and American Legislative Exchange Council than any other state environmental agency in history.
Before becoming Executive Deputy at DEP, he served as Executive Director of the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee for six years and worked in a variety of positions at the former Department of Environmental Resources over a 12-year period.
Mr. Hess was involved in the passage of every major piece of environmental legislation in Pennsylvania over a 20-year span (1983 to 2003), including the Growing Greener Watershed Restoration Program, the Land Recycling/Brownfields Program, Water Resources Planning Act, Municipal Waste Planning and Recycling Act, Hazardous Sites Cleanup Act, Safe Drinking Water Act, Radiation Protection Act and more.
As an active member of the Council of State Governments Environmental Task Force, he was involved with other states in developing recommendations for national and state policies on a variety of issues including recycling, global climate change, watershed restoration and the proposal to form the Environmental Council of the States.
Past honors include the “River Hero” Award from the national River Network and the James McGirr Kelly Award for Excellence from the National Association of Water Companies/PA Chapter for his work on watershed and water resource issues. In 2013, Mr. Hess was recognized with the 2013 Lifetime Achievement Award by Shippensburg University, and he has been recognized for his contributions to promoting education and environmental initiatives by the Pennsylvania Alliance for Environmental Education and Pennsylvania Environmental Council.
Mr. Hess served as a member of the PRC Board of Directors for more than a decade, including numerous years as an elected officer. He also has experience in local government serving as chairman of the Planning Commission in Penbrook Borough (Dauphin County, PA) for five years.
Currently, Mr. Hess is owner of PA Environment News LLC, which publishes the “PA Environment Digest” and other digital content.
His formal education includes a Master’s Degree in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of Illinois and a Bachelor’s Degree in Urban Studies from Shippensburg University.
Mr. Hess, who has three children and seven grandchildren, resides in Harrisburg with his wife, Mary.