By Andy Metzger
STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE
EVERETT -- Massachusetts Environmental Protection Commissioner Kenneth Kimmell will leave the Patrick administration to lead a research and advocacy group that seeks to promote the use of science in policymaking.
"The job's been vacant for some time and it's just a great opportunity for me and enables me to continue to work on the issues that I care the most about, most of all climate change," Kimmell told the News Service, explaining his decision to join the Union of Concerned Scientists.
The former president of the group had left to become chief of staff to U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz, a Fall River native, Kimmell said.
Kimmell, who has dealt with the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and developed a mandatory composting policy for large-scale institutions while in state government, said part of his job will be convincing people who are skeptical about climate change.
"One of the key roles of UCS is to make sure that the science, which is so clear, is well understood, and to the extent that there are people who are still acting as skeptics of climate change to counteract that message, with the science," Kimmell said.
Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Richard Sullivan broke the news about Kimmell's departure to a legislative budget panel at Everett High School, saying Kimmell would be leaving by the end of the month to head up the national organization.
The new head of the Department of Environmental Protection will be Department of Public Utilities Commissioner David Cash, and Cash will be replaced on the commission by DPU chief of staff Kate McKeever.
Before DPU, Cash was the assistant secretary for policy at Energy and Environmental Affairs, and "he is very, very well versed in the issues that DEP deals with on a regular basis," Kimmell said.
"Right now I oversee the day-to-day operations of the department," said McKeever. She said, "I feel like it will be a smooth transition."
McKeever has been chief of staff for three years, worked at the DPU for a total of seven years, and was previously a criminal prosecutor in Suffolk County. She said, "I see the role of the department as one that is leading the way in clean energy but also is mindful that we have to protect ratepayers."
"Working in state government has been an incredible opportunity for me, and I've learned so much and I'm really excited to put what I've learned to good use, and I'm really grateful to Governor Patrick for giving me this chance," Kimmell said.
A Newton resident, Kimmell was previously general counsel at Energy and Environmental Affairs and before that was a lawyer in private practice in Boston where he focused on environmental law and land use.
Kimmell said UCS writes studies, counters publications by "climate deniers," and lobbies Congress and the White House. The organization is headquartered in Brattle Square, Cambridge, according to its website.