There was a bit of a hubbub recently surrounding the announcement made by the new Secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, John Skvarla, that he was altering the Department’s mission statement. Especially in light of Skvarla’s statements in a WRAL interview in which he implied that climate change is an open question, many observers took particular note of language in the new mission statement that refers to “diversity of opinion” on matters of science.
So how much of a change is this? One of the interesting aspects of the whole mission statement story was that no one seems to remember much about what was in the old one.
Yesterday, I called over to DENR and a friendly staffer promptly emailed me the one that had been associated with the Department’s 2009-2013 strategic plan. Click here to look at the brochure that I received.
As you can see, the old “mission statement” was much shorter. It simply stated that DENR’s mission was:
“To conserve and protect North Carolina’s natural resources and to maintain an environment of high quality by providing valuable services that consistently support and benefit the health and well-being of all citizens of our state.”
As you can also see, however, the Strategic Plan brochure does include several other overarching “mission statements” or “goals” as well. Among these is one that says the following:
To address climate change in North Carolina in a comprehensive way, using mitigation efforts and adaptation strategies to increase the resilience of our state’s resources to these complex changes.”
Though pretty mild, this statement did put DENR on record in a pretty up front way acknowledging the reality of climate change and the need to address it. It would appear, therefore, that unless there’s some other statement I’m missing that reiterates this goal in a public way elsewhere, the new DENR does appear to be backing away from its commitment on this critical issue.
Let’s hope the shift is ultimately one that’s more form than substance.