PEC Partnerships

Letter from Davitt Woodwell to a member of PEC last month.
September 29, 2014

What follows is the body of a letter that Davitt Woodwell, President & CEO of PEC, sent to one of our members last month in response to a letter that questioned some of our partnerships and our honoring of some who are not always seen as the strongest of environmental advocates. You can see the original post here.

I want to thank you for your email last month and for your long-time support of the Pennsylvania Environmental Council. We take seriously the questions that you raise in your correspondence about PEC’s partners and supporters. The entities and individuals to which you call attention (energy companies, elected officials, and law firms) are our partners, but so are elected officials of other stripes, regulatory agencies, a wide variety of non-profits, and individuals like yourself.

This wide range of partners is crucial to the way in which PEC works. We tackle tough issues where solutions are usually not easily obtained. (As a few examples, I would give you the debate in climate circles over whether efforts should be focused on methane or carbon dioxide emissions, the question of how best to address regulatory bottlenecks facing small and micro hydroelectric power projects, and the strong debates over how best to protect endangered species in Pennsylvania – on all of which PEC is working. 

To work on those issues, we need to understand them in order to be able to develop sensible and sustainable solutions.  Understanding requires partnering with folks on all sides of issues to parse their concerns and build the best approaches to protect and enhance Pennsylvania’s natural resources. And we also understand, as reflected in your correspondence, that this approach can be fraught with certain perils. We do not make everyone happy all of the time. We do not generally come out screaming in the press when something does not go our way. We do, however, seem, at some point, to have everybody mad at us – and that is OK.

At PEC, we spend a considerable amount of time and energy to ensure that what we do benefits Pennsylvania. We believe in the promise of Pennsylvania: in the ability to provide a strong economy and great quality of life while still protecting the environmental and conservation values that so many of us hold dear. We believe that the developments of the past that left us with legacies of negative environmental impact (relatively uncontrolled mining, drilling, timbering, land development, etc) cannot be repeated and that reasonable, strong, and enforced regulatory programs are critical to ensure that those mistakes are not repeated.

And yes, we work with many partners to implement our beliefs. We partner with trail groups through a plethora of projects across Pennsylvania to make sure people have access to the outdoors and the opportunity to be inspired to stewardship. We partner with communities to help them make connections to natural and recreational infrastructure and see community benefits of those links. We partner with owners of all types to improve land, services, and ecosystem services through brownfield projects, illegal dump clean-ups, encouraging property transactions, and promoting green infrastructure. We partner with other environmental NGOs to share expertise and strategy in addressing environmental issues. We partner (but do not always agree or get our way) with lawmakers and regulatory agencies to add our perspective and to advocate for strong and workable environmental laws and regulations. And we partner with the private sector to understand the realities of their day-to-day and long-term issues so that we can push policies that can succeed in the real world. (An example of this is our work with the Center for Sustainable Shale Development.)

We also partner with Pennsylvanians. We want to provide reasoned and reasonable information that people can use to get beyond the headlines and dig into the increasingly complicated world of environmental protection and conservation. PEC is not the only environmental voice in the Commonwealth, but we believe that we are unique because of our partnerships and our approaches to projects and policy – linking them to better inform our work locally, regionally, and statewide.

Achieving our goals is based on partnerships, not all of which are seen and not all of which are appreciated for what they bring to the long-term improvement of Pennsylvania’s natural resources.

Again, I appreciate your comments and concerns regarding some of our more visible partnerships. Your viewpoints and the partnerships are both important to us. I would also encourage you to take a look at some of our news releases at and policy statements at to understand that our thinking is done for PEC and not necessarily for our partners.

 If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me.



For further reading:

I would also direct the reader’s attention to a piece written in September outlining our participation in the Center for Sustainable Shale Development and why we think that it is so important.