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Re: E-M:/ Engineers in MDEQ's Director's office

Enviro-Mich message from John Rebers <jrebers@nmu.edu>

Although I can understand Gloria Helfand's concern about treating environmental
issues solely as technical problems, I think that the absernce of engineers in
the MDEQ director's office is indicative of a tendency by Gov. Engler and upper
echelons within the DEQ to view many of the issues primarily as political ones,
seeking solutions along the lines of "how do we get these people to stop
worrying about this", instead of "how do we clean up this problem and prevent
it from recurring in the future". An example of this is the way in which "Clean
Corporate Citizens" awards are given out, which seem to have little
relationship to how clean an industriy's operation is compared to similar
industries. It's difficult to see how informed decisions came be made about the
complex problems we face without some level of technical expertise regarding
possible solutions.

Anyway, that's my $.02 worth...

John Rebers

At 10:36 AM 9/15/1999 -0400, you wrote:
>Enviro-Mich message from "Gloria E. Helfand" <ghelfand@umich.edu>
>As a social scientist in a School of Natural Resources and Environment,
>I also don't see the necessity for an engineer in the upper ranks of an
>environmental/resource agency.  All disciplines have their biases:
>engineers have been accused (e.g., in the Army Corps of Engineers) of
>wanting to build things as the solution to all problems; foresters of
>wanting to cut down trees (though also happy to replant them, in most
>cases).  Viewing environmental problems only as science problems leaves
>out a very large component of the problem:  why people do what they do,
>and how to stop people from doing the destructive things.  Those questions
>are the topic of social science research.
>Understanding the science and technology of environmental problems is
>absolutely critical, and we desperately need people trained in those
>areas.  We also desperately need people trained in understanding human
>behavior toward the environment and ways of changing that behavior as
>necessary.  And, probably highest priority, we need people at the top who
>can understand both components of the issues.
>> >
>> >-------------------------------------------------------------------------
>> >Enviro-Mich message from "Alex J. Sagady & Associates" <ajs@sagady.com>
>> >-------------------------------------------------------------------------
>> >
>> >It occurs to me that with the departure of Chad McIntosh earlier
>> >this year, who was formerly Deputy Director for Programs and
>> >Regulation in the MDEQ, for the very first time for as long as I
>> >can remember,  there is no engineer in the highest top management team
>> >of MDEQ (or the previous MDNR).   McIntosh was a chemical
>> >engineer who originally started in the Air Division, went to Dow Chemical,
>> >got hired as an environmental advisor in Engler's office and then
>> >ended up as a Deputy Director of MDEQ.
>> >
>> >I may be wrong, but as long as I can remember, there has been an engineer
>> >in a top deputy position in the director's office that oversaw all
>> >environmental protection programs in both the previous MDNR
>> >and in the MDEQ and made the executive decisions concerning
>> >permits and enforcement when those decisions landed in the Director's
>> >office.
>> >At least this was true of the old MDNR....
>> >
>> >The current occupant of the office of MDEQ deputy director for
>> >programs and regulations, Art Nash, originally came from the
>> >State Police Fire Marshall's office and later was in charge of the
>> >storage tank division.  Nash isn't an engineer, but has a
>> >masters in public administration.
>> >
>> >Russell Harding, as director,  is not an engineer.
>> >
>> >This means that right now no one in the Director's office brings the
>> >judgement of
>> >a registered professional engineer to complex final decisions made on
>> >permits
>> >and enforcement where the director's office has self-designated
>> >itself to be the decisionmakers on particular permit and enforcement
>> >matters.
>> >
>> >
>> >

John Rebers (jrebers@nmu.edu)
Central Upper Peninsula Group, Sierra Club
338 West Crescent Street
Marquette, MI  49855

906-228-3617 (H)
906-227-1585 (w)

This message uses 100% recycled electrons. :-)

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