Former state assemblyman Alexander B. “Pete” Grannis, 68, served as the state’s top environmental official for two and a half years beginning April 1, 2007. A graduate of Rutgers University, he received a law degree from the University of Virginia Law School and helped organize New York City’s first Earth Day in 1970. During his tenure as commissioner, the Department of Environmental Conservation was criticized for underestimating the risks of hydraulic fracturing — a controversial gas drilling technique that is temporarily banned in the state — but also praised for creating the nation’s first fracturing chemical disclosure rules.
He was fired on Oct. 21 by Gov. David Paterson after a memo Grannis wrote criticizing the governor’s proposed budget cuts for the DEC was leaked to the press. In the memo he said the agency wouldn’t be able to perform its duties if the cuts went into effect . Grannis’ sudden departure sparked outrage from environmental groups and questions about the future of natural gas drilling regulation in New York. ProPublica reporter Marie C. Baca interviewed Grannis in ProPublica’s Manhattan offices on Nov. 5 and by phone on Nov. 10. The following is a transcript of those interviews, edited for clarity and length . . . (more)