Pennsylvania environmental official Dana Aunkst will serve as the next director of the federal Chesapeake Bay Program, based in Annapolis.
The Environmental Protection Agency announced his appointment Wednesday. Aunkst replaces Nick DiPasquale, who retired from the helm of the bay program a year ago.
The 30-year-old, $73 million federal-state partnership coordinates efforts to reduce pollution across the Chesapeake watershed.
Aunkst has worked in the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection since 2002, serving as a deputy secretary and acting secretary.
He directed six regional offices and 2,000 staff carrying out environmental regulation, EPA officials said. He oversaw programs focused on water and groundwater quality, soil conservation, public water supply withdrawals, sewage facilities planning, sewage and industrial discharges, and flood protection, they said.
As Pennsylvania has lagged in efforts to meet Chesapeake Bay cleanup goals, Aunkst authored a “reboot strategy” report in 2016.
Cosmo Servidio, administrator of the EPA region that includes both Pennsylvania and Maryland, praised Aunkst’s leadership and experience.
“He has tremendous skill at building partnerships and creating a shared vision among geographically diverse stakeholders,” Servidio said in a statement. “His experience and relationships with multiple agencies will serve us and our partners well as we accelerate efforts to safeguard the Chesapeake Bay and its living resources.”
Aunkst called the new role “a tremendous opportunity to build upon the accomplishments to date by EPA and its partners.”
“I look forward to working collaboratively with our stakeholders in protecting our nation’s largest estuary and the local waterways throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed,” he said in a statement.