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Sununu environmental services nominee to face public hearing

Kathleen Ronayne, Associated Press

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) -- Republican Gov. Chris Sununu has nominated a longtime business and manufacturing executive to head the state's Department of Environmental Services.

Peter Kujawski will face questions Wednesday from the Executive Council and the public on his qualifications to lead a department charged with protecting the environment. He is a former executive at Sig Sauer and Nanocomp Technologies, and his resume shows little professional experience in environmental protection.

Several politicians and activists say Kujawski, who has never worked in state government, is little known in Concord.

"He's kind of the new guy on the block," Republican Councilor Joe Kenney said. "Everybody's trying to look at his qualifications and background and understand what his vision and ideas are."

Sununu announced Kujawski's nomination last week but has not publicly commented on the choice. Kujawski directed all questions about his nomination to the governor's office.

"Pete is the consummate professional and will be a competent, effective commissioner, as he'll offer the department a fresh perspective on a wide range of important issues," Sununu spokesman Dave Abrams said in a statement.

Kujawski most recently worked as a regional director at View Inc., which makes glass that changes its tint based on the sun. He previously worked at the director of business development at Nanocomp Technologies in Merrimack and, for eight years, as a vice president of Sig Sauer, the Exeter-based firearms manufacturer, according to his resume.

Kujawksi formally requested to be named environmental services commissioner in a March 22 letter to Sununu. In it, he highlights his understanding of hazardous materials and work on sustainability projects as two key qualifications for the post. He also highlights his work as a chemical engineer.

Under a section titled "environmental protection," Kujawski writes he learned to respect the environment as a Boy Scout and says he's worked in his business career to ensure environmental laws and regulations are followed.

Cathy Corkery, chapter director of the Sierra Club, said his nomination came "out of left field."

"The nominee is a total unknown to us and not on our radar at all," she said in an email.

People who have worked with Kujawski say his management credentials make him a good choice to lead the department, which has more than 400 employees and an annual budget of more than $200 million.

George Bald, a former commissioner of the Department of Resources and Economic Development, said Kujawski was an advocate for keeping Sig Sauer in New Hampshire when the company was expanding years ago.

"I enjoyed working with him," Bald said. "I found him to be a good manager."

Campaign finance records show Kujawski contributed $400 to Sununu's gubernatorial campaign.