Environmental lawyer to lead prosecutions against polluters who threaten Pennsylvanians’ rights to clean air, pure water
HARRISBURG — Today, Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced the appointment of Steve Santarsiero, Esq. a lawyer with strong experience supporting Pennsylvania’s environment and natural resources, as Chief Deputy Attorney General of the Environmental Protection Section.
“Environmental crimes impact the health of Pennsylvania families and undermine our constitution, which says everyone has the right to clean air, pure water and the preservation of their natural environment,” Attorney General Shapiro said. “That’s why I’m appointing Steve Santarsiero as Chief Deputy Attorney General to lead our efforts to take on and prosecute cases against anyone or any company that breaks the law and harms our environment.”
As the office’s top environmental prosecutor, Santarsiero is in charge of prosecuting polluters across three divisions of the Office of Attorney General: Criminal, Civil and Public Protection. Shapiro vowed during his campaign last year to reinvigorate the environmental section in importance and empower it to work more broadly across all office divisions to better protect Pennsylvanians’ rights as spelled out in Article I, Sect. 27 of the state constitution.
In Santarsiero, Shapiro has appointed an attorney with more than a decade of experience litigating environmental cases, including claims on behalf of citizens groups seeking relief under the federal Clean Water Act. Santarsiero also performed extensive legal work in Brownsfield redevelopment and remediation cases on behalf of property owners who sought to reclaim the land for viable commercial uses.
“I’m honored to be appointed by Attorney General Shapiro to lead our renewed efforts to protect the environment and prosecute polluters who threaten or harm our natural resources,” Santarsiero said. “I’ve spent a great deal of my career working to protect the environment. That experience has prepared me to implement Attorney General Shapiro’s vision of an environmental section that does more than ever before to hold polluters to account and protect our natural resources for generations to come.”
Santarsiero’s experience and the office’s renewed focus on protecting Pennsylvanians’ rights to clean air and pure water comes at a time when states seem poised to play a larger role on environmental protection issues as Washington and federal regulators play less of a proactive policy role.
“The Office of Attorney General takes environmental crimes seriously,” Shapiro said. “I’m pleased we’ve appointed an experienced attorney and advocate for the environment to lead our efforts to protect Pennsylvanians’ rights every day across our Commonwealth.”
In his first several months in office, Attorney General Shapiro is keeping environmental crimes near the forefront of his agenda. Last month, Shapiro traveled to Jessup, PA in northeastern Pennsylvania to announce criminal charges against the former operator of a drum recycling facility for illegally operating the site and storing hazardous wastes without any of the required permits. The site was the scene of a major fire in 2014 that caused 60 residents to evacuate.
In addition to his career as an environmental attorney, Santarsiero developed a record on environmental issues over four terms as a member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. He helped persuade Gov. Ed Rendell to issue an executive order halting the further leasing of state forest land for natural gas drilling. Santarsiero fought for tighter regulation of the fracking industry, and advocated for greater buffers between gas drillers and drinking water sources.
Steve Santarsiero has lived with his wife Ronni in Lower Makefield Township for over 22 years. They have three children, Nancy, Billy and Johnny.