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Source: Newsday

Cuomo taps Martens for top DEC post


Posted: January 6, 2011
Originally Published: January 4, 2011

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has nominated Joseph Martens, a former adviser to Mario Cuomo who now heads an open-space advocacy group, to lead the state's Department of Environmental Conservation.

The embattled environmental agency has been without a formal leader since Commissioner Pete Grannis was fired in October after disagreements about layoffs ordered by then-Gov. David A. Paterson.

Environmental advocates, who had criticized Grannis' abrupt dismissal, praised Cuomo's selection, announced Tuesday.

"Joe Martens brings experience, dedication and a wealth of knowledge to a demanding and central position for Governor Cuomo's administration," said Adrienne Esposito, executive director of the Farmingdale group Citizens Campaign for the Environment and a member of Cuomo's energy and environmental transition team.

If the nomination is approved, Martens would take the reins at a time when DEC faces significant challenges, from budget shortfalls to regulation of natural gas drilling upstate.

Now president of the New York City-based Open Space Institute, Martens has a master's degree in resource management. He served as assistant secretary to Gov. Mario Cuomo from 1990 to 1992 and was deputy secretary for the environment and energy from 1992 to 1994.

During that time Martens advised Cuomo to sign the Long Island Pine Barrens Protection Act, said Kevin McDonald, director of public lands for the Nature Conservancy on Long Island. That landmark bill put special controls on development to protect the underground aquifers that supply the region's drinking water.

"He knows New York's environmental issues, he knows Long Island," McDonald said.

Also Tuesday, Cuomo chose Elizabeth Glazer to be deputy secretary for public safety. A special counsel to Cuomo as attorney general, she is a former federal prosecutor in Manhattan, former first deputy commissioner in New York City's Department of Investigation and was first deputy district attorney in Westchester County.

With The Associated Press