State Sen. Andy Dinniman’s anti-pipeline theatrics were on full display last week during a Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee hearing to reconfirm Patrick McDonnell as the secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection.
Dinniman clashed with fellow committee members over his instance on peppering McDonnell with a series of loaded questions regarding the DEP’s involvement in the Mariner East pipeline project. Ironically, McDonnell was largely unable to respond to Dinniman’s inquiries due to a set of meritless local and state investigations that the senator himself is involved in.
In declining to comment on pending litigation, McDonnell followed longstanding protocol designed to protect taxpayers from frivolous lawsuits and ensure legal proceedings are properly insulated from political discourse. As Democratic Sen. John Yudichak made clear early on in the hearing, questions regarding ongoing litigation “are out of order and inappropriate.”
“It does a disservice to this committee and to the full Senate if members seek to impede or influence the outcome of litigation or an investigation through their questions in today’s proceeding,” said Yudichack, who serves as committee’s minority chair.
Not satisfied with his self-induced stonewalling, Dinniman suggested McDonnell’s reconfirmation hearing be delayed until litigation concerning Mariner East is resolved. This however would be pointless given Senate rules governing confirmation proceedings.
“We can delay the hearing which means he’s going to be automatically confirmed without a hearing,” noted Committee Chairman Gene Yaw. “If you want to make a press release out of this, that’s fine,” he added, noting Dinniman’s tendency for sensation-seeking headlines.
After nearly a hour of squabbling with Dinniman, visibly frustrated legislators ultimately voted in a bipartisan manner to advance McDonnell’s reconfirmation to the full Senate for a final vote, leaving Dinniman amongst the extreme minority on the committee.
Wednesday’s hearing came in the wake of new questions surrounding the true motivation behind Dinniman’s anti-pipeline vendetta. A review of Dinniman’s campaign finance disclosures by the website Natural Gas Now found that the senator has received nearly $80,000 from a developer with a financial interest in seeing the Mariner East project derailed.