Governor Nathan Deal’s new, hand-picked Director of the Environmental Protection Department (EPD), Richard Dunn, is short on one, important thing: environmental experience.
In a state struggling to regulate toxic coal ash, protect groundwater supplies, monitor radioactive materials, and preserve the health of the Chattahoochee River, an inexperienced EPD director can only spell more trouble.
While several environmental groups offered tentative, and hopeful, statements to the press about a change in direction and restoring trust, a few have been more blunt about their concerns.
“I’m hoping time isn’t wasted on a learning curve,” Ogeechee Riverkeeper Emily Markesteyn told Savannah Now.
Indeed, Dunn’s learning curve might be more than Georgia’s environment can handle, following failure after failure that has plagued the EPD, and the left our environment with too few politicians willing to defend it.
The Sierra Club of Georgia posted to their Facebook page that it, “hopes that the new Director will restore the people’s trust in the EPD…to help address the numerous failures under the last Director.”
Some of the failures they listed include:
- Opposition to meaningful regulation of groundwater.
- Allowing dirty old coal plants to run with expired water permits.
- Allowing the regulations for massive animal feeding operations to be weakened.
- Committing acts of environmental injustice such as the permitting of the Sabal Trail compressor station in Albany.
The Georgia Water Council, offered even more instances of the EPD utterly failing to do its job.
From Savannah Now:
The Georgia Water Council, a consortium of 233 conservation and environmental organizations and private businesses, listed recent incidents that had eroded public trust in EPD, including the agency’s response to the 2011 Ogeechee River fish kill and a 2014 policy change that jeopardized the protection of 400,000 acres of coastal salt marsh.
Dunn comes from the Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget, and represents a continued era of Deal’s handpicked buddies — regardless of their qualifications — being put in positions to continue policies of deregulation and injustice.
Dunn said it would be “presumptuous” to discuss plans to improve the EPD. Georgia’s environment can’t wait for Dunn to get caught up on the coal-ash fight in Jessup, Ga. or the ins-and-outs of radioactive contamination in Shell Bluff, Ga. These communities have already been failed by past leadership, Georgia’s environment has already been failed by past leadership.
When will that change?