Dept of Interior to shift away from ‘project-by-project’ management

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell has unveiled the outlines of a new landscape-level mitigation strategy across millions of acres of federal land that she said is designed to take the department’s agencies away from narrowly focused project-by-project assessments. The mitigation strategy includes four key objectives the department will work to implement in the coming months in an effort to take a broader approach to managing public lands – landscape-level planning, banking, in-lieu fee arrangements and other mitigation tools.
READ MORE AT  http://www.eenews.net/greenwire/2014/04/10/stories/1059997717

Hot Water: Tennessee Stream Mitigation Fee Program still under fire

There is a lot of “inside baseball” from Tennessee politics in this article we came across (I did not post the first few paragraphs but they can be read at the link provided). But the meat of the story agrees with the narrative arc of so many wetland and stream fee arrangements: Politically influential interests establish a pay-and-pave program to sell the public mitigation and relieve themselves of the burden of performing up-front successful mitigation in advance of impacts (as from mitigation banks). The fee-program is largely ignored and papers over its shortcomings with year after year of glossy reports — but then the economics of pay me now, I’ll build it later, begins to catch up with them — resulting in a tangled mess.

Well, there is at least one one difference between the eerily similar stories of neighboring North Carolina’s fee program: North Carolina’s program had collected $58 million when the creek hit the fan, whereas the Tennessee Stream Mitigation Program had managed only a $54 million war chest.   

From: http://www.newswithviews.com/Nelson/kelleigh157.htmTENNESSEE GOVERNOR HASLAM, WATER RIGHTS AND AGENDA 21 CORRUPTION

PART 1 of 7

By Kelleigh Nelson

July 8, 2012

NewsWithViews.com

……The developer bypassed applying for and receiving proper permits, bypassed state environmental laws, and failed to abide by the federal Clean Water Act.

Key to Alphabet Soup Environmental Groups

TDEC – Tennessee Department of Environmental Conservation

TWRA – Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency

TWRF – Tennessee Wildlife Resources Foundation

TSMP – Tennessee Stream Mitigation Program

AMEC – American Engineering Consulting (Ireland owned)

TDOT – Tennessee Department of Transportation

WWTP – Waste Water Treatment Plant

CWA – Clean Water Act

WRC – Wolf River Conservancy

Tennessee Water Rights

Tennessee Water Law, (T.C.A. 69-3-102 (a) (b), states, “waters of the state are held in trust for the citizens..”). So, the citizens of Tennessee own the rivers, the lakes, the streams, the aquifers, the channels, the spillways, every drop…yes, all of Tennessee’s water. We own it. That’s what the law states. So why then is the state selling our streams and our water rights for $200 per linear square foot through the Tennessee Stream Mitigation Program (TSMP) “In Lieu Fee” program? The Federal Clean Water Act (CWA) requires “No Net Loss” regarding mitigation issues. Easy enough. Whatever natural resources are damaged due to development, that same amount MUST be replaced (mitigated). Thus, the “No Net Loss” standard. An “In Lieu Fee” is substituted for the “No Net Loss” requirement in the CWA, when the stated requirement cannot be met, or would be quite difficult to satisfy.

In other words, if you pay a fee “In Lieu Of” repairing the stream you are damaging with the development, the Tennessee Stream Mitigation Foundation is supposed to use those funds to recreate a similar water way to replace the one which was lost. This means, “No Net Loss.” According to the Tennessee Stream Mitigation Program (TSMP) they have made great strides to provide mitigation to offset stream impacts permitted through §404/401 of the federal Clean Water Act. These “Mitigation measures” are supposed to include:

1. Restoration of degraded stream reaches and/or “riparian zones”; (those areas that surround water bodies in the watershed and are composed of moist to saturated soils, water-loving plant species and their associated ecosystems)

2. New (relocated) stream channels;

3. Removal of pollutants from and hydrologic buffering of storm water runoff; and

4. Any other measures which have a reasonable likelihood of increasing the resource value of a state water.

In layman’s terms, this is saying it is supposed to be nearly impossible for a developer to destroy a stream. However, the law is set up to where the developer is to try to build around the stream first. If that doesn’t work, they’re supposed to engineer and find a newly approved path to direct the stream with minimal damage. Lastly…and here’s the caveat, if that doesn’t work, the developer writes a check and destroys the stream. In other words, any developer can simply buy the stream through “In-Lieu-Fee” rather than fixing or mitigating the problem he’s made, and therefore, destroy the stream for development purposes. The check is supposed to go to repairing a stream somewhere else, but once it is written, the company is off the hook. They have no responsibility in terms of correcting the stream or mitigating any downstream damage to other property owners, as in the case of the Wolf River Airport.

The money goes to the TSMP and they are supposed to either repair the damaged stream or find another stream that is in need of repair within close proximity to this development and use the monies for same. Every foot of stream damaged is to be replaced with a foot of stream. This is “NO NET LOSS” required by the Clean Water Act. The Tennessee Stream Mitigation Program began in 2002 and so far $56 million has gone into the program so developers could do what they want with a stream.

What is happening in Tennessee is, rather than doing “No Net Loss,” they’re paying this “In Lieu Fee.” The TSMP is just taking a fee rather than doing all of the work they’re supposed to do according to the Federal Rules of Mitigation and the Federal Clean Water Act. When wetland mitigation, which is legal, came down to the states in the 2002 Memorandum of Understanding from the Federal Government, it was mandated that it be under the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, (TWRA). The Agency was to establish a Tennessee Wildlife Resources Foundation (TWRF) and this foundation is to administer the mitigation program.

In addition, developers can purchase “mitigation credits” which are basically an acre a piece, and cost $40,000. These credits are not readily available to the smaller developers who couldn’t afford three or four acre purchases of these credits. However for the big developers, the price is not outrageous. In the case of Wolf River Airport, there are two streams upstream from the airport that both come down and converge on the airport property. They are about a mile to a mile and a half away. With the curvature of the streams, or the natural bends of the streams, each is about three miles of stream.

Norfolk-Southern and William Adair bought 4900 ft., and in another case, 3600 ft. of stream and paid money into a bank account for causing damage and tearing up those streams. Rather than mitigate properly and consider downstream use, or downstream impacts, as called for under the Federal Rules of Mitigation, the TSMP just put the money in an account. The key here in Tennessee is that they took the money and put it into an account that was not consistent with the 2002 agreement they had reached with the federal government under the Clean Water Act when Mitigation came to this state. What they did was they put that money in a private bank account off the books of the state of Tennessee. That bank account currently has $13 Million in it, and has had over $56 million run through it. The TSMP takes the money, the land, and the water through the Mitigation Banks. The non-profits, for-profits, and other third party organizations run the Mitigation Banks. The Corps of Engineers is doing their books (reports) and filings in order to keep it off of the books of the state, bypassing the CLEAN WATER ACT. This is against both state and federal law.

They couldn’t have it on the books because IN LIEU FEE is not in the regulations or the law and doesn’t meet the federal mitigation requirements of NO NET LOSS. All of this is to get around the federal CLEAN WATER ACT, and Tennessee’s own water laws. This is an illegal process of taking money and putting it into an off-the-books bank account and nobody knows what they’re doing with it. TSMP even put $5.4 million into Fannie Mae–outside of state fiscal oversight–and they’re totally unregulated!

There’s no cap on how much nature these developers can tear up. In the Wolf River Airport case, the developers bought 4600 ft. of one stream and 3600 feet of another. However, there are three miles of each stream, and they’re tearing up the entire two streams all the way to the Wolf river.

Mitigation is supposed to rectify any downstream impacts, but as you’ll see in this story, it is simply not happening. Codifying (to reconcile the law and incorporate it into the law) the “In Lieu Fee” and “No Net Loss,” is the official stated goal of mitigation.

In fact, an amendment was even removed from SB2211 in the House that would have made downstream impacts a more significant issue. We’ll get to SB2211 and HR2349 later in this tome.

In Part 2, we’ll discuss the Cast of Characters.

Click here for part —–> 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7,

© 2012 Kelleigh Nelson – All Rights Reserved

E-Mail: Proverbs133@bellsouth.net

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Why did the Governor refuse to sign a non-binding Resolution? Perhaps the rest of this story will explain the Governor’s stance. Also remember, Governor Haslam’s family owns Pilot Oil/Flying J. Bear…

Dr. David Robinson: Father of Full-Delivery Mitigation

We just returned from the National Mitigation Banking Conference last week in Sacramento, where old friend David Robinson gave an excellent presentation on the benefits of “Full-Delivery” mitigation procurement systems. You can also view it here on his website:  http://www.full-delivery.com/

By way of background, as some readers will know, the NC Ecosystem Enhancement program is North Carolina’s unique, state-wide, non-regulatory, Fee Program. The NCEEP sells hundreds of millions of dollars of mitigation to the public and the government at government established rates. The NCEEP is the funnel through which the vast majority of mitigation in North Carolina flows.

The program develops the mitigation sold to the public in two ways.  ”In-House,” where the state identifies the land and purchases it themselves, then contracts with separate firms to design, construct, and care for the site, with no firm responsible for the entire project, and various state employees responsible for various parts.

Or, the NCEEP accomplishs the mitigation by conducting a bonded, public, low-bid system called “Full-Delivery.” In the Full-Delivery system, companies like Restoration Systems will identify and contract for the purchase of the land privately; and, if awarded, acquire, design, construct, and care for the site long term — with all resulting credits accruing to the state.

Back to Dr. Robinson. David was instrumental in the development of Full-Delivery mitigation as the preferred alternative for large state purchases of compensatory mitigation in North Carolina. He mid-wifed the birth of the innovative procurement system at the Department of Transportation in the 1990’s and has seen it adopted by other agencies, and other states, lately including South Carolina.

Robinson makes the case here that large government purchases of environmental mitigation should utilize a competitive “Full-Delivery” procurement model that lowers costs, reduces risk for the buyer and stimulates green jobs for the economy.

Take it away Dr. D….

Robinson on Full-Delivery mitigation for wetlands, streams and other natural assets

Tennessee Stream Mitigation Program: Under Fire From Left and Right


Critics say ‘wholesale auction’ of Tennessee’s stream quality afoot

By Tom Humphrey

Sunday, February 19, 2012

NASHVILLE — A decade-old, multi-million dollar program for restoring degraded Tennessee streams has come under attack in the state Legislature even as Gov. Bill Haslam’s administration moves to give it new legal status.

Critics of the Tennessee Stream Mitigation Program, which is overseen by a non-profit foundation, characterized it as a “wholesale auction” of the state’s waterways to developers who can pay a fee for their pollution while leaving devastated downstream landowners in a lurch.

Testimony in a hearing before the House Conservation committee also raised questions about whether the non-profit Tennessee Wildlife Resources Foundation faces appropriate financial accountability under the present setup, which was put in place by a 2002 “memorandum of understanding” between state and federal agencies.

“You show me a non-profit, and I’ll show you bloated salaries and padded expense accounts,” said Rep. Frank Niceley, R-Strawberry Plains.

The essence of the 2002 memorandum would be put into state law for the first time under HB2349, introduced by the Haslam administration while a legal battle is underway over a West Tennessee development in which $947,000 was paid as a mitigation fee by a developer and a downstream private airport was devastated by flooding, according to the airport operators.

“What we have here is the Tea Party and the Sierra Club on the same side against a governor’s bill,” observed state Rep. Mike Kernell, D-Memphis, at one point during lengthy arguments.

Joey Woodard, director of the program, said in an interview that the committee was given “misinformation” about an effort that has restored thousands of miles of damaged streams in 23 completed projects with three more currently underway.

“I’m not sure whether it was just a gross misunderstanding or intentional misrepresentation,” Woodard said of the testimony before the committee. “They want you to believe it’s a slush fund. Nothing could be further from the truth.”

State law now authorizes mitigation in general, though Department of Environment and Conservation attorney Alan Leiserson told the committee the actual program “has been run without specific authorization” in state law.

The idea is that, when damage to a stream or wetland is unavoidable by a development deemed to warrant a state-issued permit, the developer can pay an “in lieu fee” to cover the environmental damage. The fee can run from $50 to $200 per foot of damaged stream.

Elizabeth Murphy, a Nashville attorney representing Wolf River Airport in the pending litigation that challenges legality of the mitigation program, told the committee the present system is effectively selling the state’s water quality “outside any regulatory function” of the state.

Read more

THIS JUST IN: All Corps Mitigation Permit Decisions Must be Documented

All:

Today we received very good news! As of October 26th all permit decisions which the Corps makes must document decision making process for mitigation. This is significant because the mitigation rule (33 CFR 332.3) defines a mitigation hierarchy which has mitigation banking as the preferred method of mitigation. The Association has been fighting since the mitigation rule came into existence in 2008 for the Corps to follow the preference found in the rule. This directive requires that the permit officer document his/her decision making process which should have the effect of causing additional compliance with the hierarchy. I want to thank each and every one of you who have participated in this fight at both the District level and at HQ level for the hard work it has taken to achieve this milestone. We will be discussing this directive on the regular monthly NMBA call (Thursday, November 18th, 10 to 11 am Eastern,1-866-305-2467 access number 836122)

We hope you will participate in the call.

Thank you,

Victoria K. Colangelo

Click & link to:
The new Department of the Army Memorandum Documenting Nationwide Permit Template
&
Chief, Operation & regulatory Division letter discussing Minimum Level of Documentation required for Permit Decisions

Ecosystem Marketplace: Mitigation Bankers Say Army Corps Not Following the Rule

From Hannah Kett and Ecosystem Marketplace

According to law, if you damage a wetland in the US, you must restore a comparable piece of property in the same watershed. A 2008 regulatory rule says wetland credits from a mitigation bank should be your first option. Mitigation banks, however, say this isn’t happening, and they want the Army Corps of Engineers to tell them why. The Corps says it’s just trying to be flexible – and promises more transparency in the future.

29 September 2010 | In April, 2008, wetland scientist Rich Mogensen read “The Rule” and speculated that the number of wetland mitigation banks in the United States could triple from 500 then to 1500 right about now as a result of its issuance.

Officially titled the Compensatory Mitigation Rule for Losses of Aquatic Resources, the Rule was jointly issued by the US Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) (with a push from Congress), and it declared that anyone who damages a US wetland should look first to mitigation bankers to compensate for the damage before exploring other alternatives.

National Mitigation Banking Association letter to Army Corps of Engineers regarding the implementation Fede… Read more

UNC School of Government Study of EEP: Solid as Banana Cream Pie

UNC School of Government Study of EEP: Solid as Banana Cream Pie

This past Friday the UNC School of Government released its “Phase 1 Report” on evaluating the Ecosystem Enhancement Program’s method for procuring its mitigation.

As all long suffering followers of the inner workings of the ‘black box’ known simply as EEP understand, there are two separate processes for this: 1) a competitive bid system known as Full Delivery in which the provider assumes all liability for delivering the contracted amount of mitigation without an any change order provisions and is fully bonded, and 2) an arbitrarily awarded design contract (not competitive bid) for projects from a list of ‘on-call’ design firms which is then subsequently farmed out to bid for only the construction component known as Design Bid Build.

One would have assumed that UNC would have actually looked into the mechanics of these two methods and drawn some conclusions or at least made some salient observations. Oh wait, if that’s what was done then there would actually be something useful coming from this process. Instead, all that UNC did is establish a set of criteria for how to evaluate the two methods and with apologies to my friends at UNC—a third grader could have come up with the two main ones: effectiveness and transparency. The SOG work so far has been analogous to a round table discussion of the shade of black on the side of the box, with little discussion of what’s inside and why nobody gets to see it.

Was it really necessary to engage dozens of stakeholders in the process to come up with those revelations? Can you say ‘pass the butter knife so I can cut the banana cream pie’?

As one of those stakeholders who falls under the category in the study of “Mitigation Provider” i.e. one who actually does this work and has been well acquainted with both EEP and its DENR management since before the 2003 start of the program, let me add one point of clarification to the second sentence of the second paragraph on page 1 of the study which reads “DENR’s new leadership identified a need to have an objective third party review EEP’s procurement process.” WHOA!

There is an elephant in the room here and it needs to be acknowledged. The Assistant Secretary of DENR ever since the EEP has existed, Robin Smith, is married to Mike Smith the head of UNC’s School of Government. Now, both

and Smith are well regarded in their respective capacities and I am not trying to imply any cronyism was at play in the decision for DENR to give UNC the $25,000 contract for this study. After all, if DENR had wanted to bring in Bain Consulting to perform a thorough top to bottom review of the EEP, as UNC did when it had Bain study its layers of overlapping university bureaucracy, it would have cost a heck of a lot more than $25k.

However, I am disappointed that the study offered no disclaimer to this obvious reality which was discussed by several stakeholders outside of the series of meetings. It does neither institution any favors when even the appearance of a potential conflict of interest is involved, especially so when it is not duly acknowledged in an allegedly “transparent” process.

The one clear take away result from the study is that what is likely to come next—you guessed it, is another study! One can only hope that the Phase 2 Report actually comes up with real analysis and recommendations.

If not then we ‘stakeholders’ better be prepared for more banana cream pie. One can only wonder what the budget is for another serving of the same mush?

BrassGrill

Video: Double dip throw down on Jones Street

Lawmakers might dun DENR for wetlands mistake

State lawmakers said Thursday that they might have to pull $700,000 from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources budget to make up for a costly error in a wetlands clean-up in Johnston County.

When the state pays to preserve environmentally sensitive wetlands, it gets a credit to offset the destruction of another wetland for a highway project or other development. Each restored area can be used only once as a credit, but DENR hired a firm last year to restore the same 46 acres in the Neuse River Basin that the state Department of Transportation paid to restore in 2000.

Read more

Confab: Yet another huddle on the fate of the NCEEP

If I had a dollar for every stakeholder meeting, facilitated discussion, working group, and RFP modification effort I have attended in the last decade concerning the North Carolina mitigation fee program — I could pay for a robust lunch and still have some jingle in my pocket. In fact, I keep a box of magic markers on my desk at all times in order to be prepared for these tedious sessions and their inevitable chart-fliping diagrams of the problems.

A facilitated discussion

Once again, a seeeerious evaluation is being made by the wetland policy industry of the North Carolina Ecosystem Enhancement Program.  In this case it is the respected UNC School of Government (SOG) sitting us down to see if we can all just get along.  The ultimate goal is, I fear, to find some political method for justifying the out-of-control, nobody-on-Jones-street-authorized-it, mistake-prone, developer-facilitating, government-price-fixing expensive mess that is the NCEEP.

How about this for an idea taken from the National Environmental Policy Act:  The “No-Build” alternative.

It is time to wind it down.  It is time for “No-Build.” Somehow, 49 other states struggle through the day without subsidizing their developers with a state-wide-pay-and-pave-program.  The North Carolina monstrosity was concocted in 2002 only to sweep a previous scandal concerning the NC Wetland Restoration Program (NCWRP) under the rug with a new name and more money.  Tar Heels would not miss it.   (Unless, of course, you were seeking a subsidized permit to dredge and fill wetlands.)

Yet, I wonder.  Is the “No-Build” alternative even in the SOG’s play book?  The SOG, I understand, had a hand in developing the NCWRP [WRONGMea Culpa], the first iteration of fee-based mitigation in North Carolina. And the SOG is certainly not the School of less Government.  Is it possible for the SOG to simply do the right thing and recommend that the state back-out of the business of providing developers with compensatory mitigation at fixed prices?   Or will we once more trod down the well-worn path of “reform” without substance and meetings without results.  I am keeping an open-mind, but I am not encouraged based on my years of experience.

In the meantime, here is a preview of tomorrow’s gathering lifted from the quite cool NC Water Wiki sponsored by the SOG. One of the other invitees posed a few questions to our host :

In the meantime, here are some similar questions from another potential participant and my answers –

Maureen,
Thank you for the invitation to participate in the SOG Evaluation of the EEP.  In discussing this process with colleagues, some questions have arisen.  Based upon the stated goal of the project: “an independent analysis of EEP’s procurement methods,” the range of topics covered is not clear.
Q:  Can you provide more detail?
A:  The School of Government has been asked to evaluate the EEP’s procurement methods.  I am overseeing the evaluation from the position of evaluation methodology and research methods expertise.  Paul Caldwell, a SOG project director, runs the nuts and bolts of our evaluation projects – he will be the main contact for day to day activities.  Bill Holman and Richard Whisnant are colleagues who are content experts, and they will help facilitate the process, especially the technical conversations.
The word independent is to emphasize that the SOG will be conducting the evaluation in a transparent, neutral fashion, without any preconceptions about the program.  In fact, I have taken steps to avoid even reading about controversy about the program (though I know something is there) so that I can ask as un-biased, methodologically sound questions as possible.

Something Fishy

Red Herring?

Last Thursday representatives of the North Carolina Division of Water Quality (DWQ) concluded an overview presentation of their mitigation programs to the Environmental Management Commission in defense of credit stacking by expressing a red herring message of fear that without the ability to sell the same piece of mitigation twice,

mitigation costs will be higher

— NCDWQ

and that some areas of the state could

run out of buffer and stream sites

— NCDWQ

to restore??

I’m confused.  DWQ just threw away several hundred thousand dollars and caused an immediate and future degradation to water quality and they’re concerned that correcting the policy that led to this might cause mitigation fees to go up?!  That’s almost as ridiculous as their implication that running out of degraded streams and buffers would somehow be a bad thing.

The tone of these comments by DWQ staff force a reasonable person to ask:  is DENR more concerned with subsidizing the cost of development at the expense of the environment than actually protecting the environment? A skeptic would ask if DENR management is more concerned with protecting it’s empire of programs and divisions than the environment.  And a cynic would merely point out that the Endless Employment Project and the Ecosystem Enhancement Program share the same acronym.

Thursday’s presentation was given at the bequest of EMC Chair Stephen Smith in response to the recent publicity regarding DENR, DWQ, EEP, and EBX that questioned whether roughly a million dollars of mitigation fees required by DWQ, collected by EEP, and awarded to  EBX actually did anything to protect the environment.  According to the NC Program Evaluation Division the answer to that question is clear,

DWQ’s decisions related to this controversy resulted in actual and potential future losses to the environmental integrity of the Neuse River basin. — Program Evaluation Division, NC General Assembly

What’s not so clear is why DENR’s been making policy decisions that degrade the environment as opposed to protect it.  Their public explanations thus far have been premised as simplified versions of complicated issues.  The EMC rule makers need to understand that DENR’s not telling them the whole story.  The most notable omission is that EEP has been charging mitigation fees to developers based on the costs of providing unstacked mitigation credits, their nutrient offset program was at a huge deficit of  compliance,  and they seem to have used retroactive credit stacking, shielded by a process called  “direct purchase” to help balance their books.

It’s time for DENR to stop treating everyone from policy makers to legislators like children and start telling the whole story.   A good place to start would be explaining why DWQ Buffer Interpretation/Clarification #004 was written, and whether it was intended to help every public and private mitigation project that has subsequently taken advantage of it, or just the needs of a certain Canadian mining company.   The first step to recovery is admitting that you have a problem.  Everybody makes mistakes, what’s important is that we learn from them.

Trying to get around all this monkey business, and as a bit of a Curious George myself,  I went to the Man in the Yellow Hat (an industry veteran) who reminded me that at its root, DWQ was a permitting agency.  This DWQ summary, and the Rationale and Methodology for Flexible Buffer Mitigation for PCS Phosphate Company, Inc. help explain the connection between the proposed Consolidated Buffer Rule, the 800 pound gorilla sitting silently at the back of all these public policy meetings, and DENR’s hesitancy to correct their mistake.

PCS Phosphate is currently pursuing a permit to make what could be the largest single impact to water quality in the state of North Carolina and they’re using the Consolidated Buffer Rule to help do it.  But DWQ’s most recent version of the Rule was not only a fix for PCS, but also a fix for DENR’s recently publicized policy problems.  Lucky for the environment, it has been temporarily tabled.  Maybe next time it’s presented they’ll stop monkeying around and call it what it is, The Rule to Help PCS Get Its Permit and Help DWQ Cover Its Ass.  Just goes to show that the Man in the Yellow Hat knows what he’s talking about, at its root DWQ is a permitting agency.

However, this still doesn’t help explain the DENR Assistant Secretary’s response when asked by members of the ERC on December 17th if the recent controversial policy decisions by her department had any impact on PCS, because she appeared to have no idea that there was a connection.  That’s a little ironic, considering she has served as legal counsel to the state’s mining commission, the Southern Environmental Law Center is currently challenging the PCS permit and DWQ has been working for several years on a new Rule to help PCS meet their buffer mitigation requirement.

Maybe she didn’t get the MEMOs, or like Peter Gibbons in Office Space maybe she just ignored them.  When I recently heard DENR had engaged the UNC School of Government to do an ‘outside, third party’ review of EEP and its practices I was encouraged.  But then I heard that the Dean of the School was married to the DENR Assistant Secretary. Sheesh.

The real world ain’t like  school and it ain’t like the movies, and sometimes it makes me sick.  As historian Howard Zinn’s book demonstrates in both title and text, You Can’t be Neutral on a Moving Train.   Letters and MEMOs are important and policy decisions have real and immediate consequences that can’t be brushed over by studies and simplified examples.

For the time being it’s looking more and more like the dead fish in the Neuse aren’t the only thing putrid effecting our waters.  In case they missed the other ones, I hope the DENR hierarchy gets this most recent memo from concerned advocates and this time decides to do something good for the environment.