In case you missed it over the weekend, be sure to check out this essay by Raleigh News & Observer editorial page editor Ned Barnett in which explains and laments the demise of the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources. Be sure to check it out even if you saw the print version, because the virtual one includes video clips of Barnett’s interview with former DENR regional supervisor Amy Adams (currently of the group Appalachian Voices).
As Barnett puts it in the essay:
Adams originally welcomed the call for efficiency [at DENR]. Like most bureaucracies, DENR needed streamlining and focus. But she balked and quit once it became clear that the real change at DENR would be less, not smarter, enforcement. DENR’s new role would be to guide permit applicants through what Skvarla calls ‘the maze’ of regulations.
As Adams puts it, the message from DENR’s leadership, stripped of its customer service code words, was: ‘Stop investigating, stop enforcing and just be someone out there holding a hand.’
Adams said only a vigilant regulator can provide confidence in drinking water. As she puts it: .No one should have to turn on the tap and and wonder: Is this going to kill me in 30 years?’
She added, ‘The watchdog that’s supposed to be in charge of that basically is a lap dog. They’re not going after the folks they need to be going after in order to protect the health of North Carolinians.’”
You can also watch the video of Adams’ talk at last month’s NC Policy Watch luncheon on the Duke coal ash disaster by clicking here.