Scathing employee letter highlights Dept. of Energy and Natural Resources' dangerous new direction


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A big shout-out goes to fellow blogger and alt journalist Bob Geary of Durham's Independent Weekly, who late Monday posted a remarkable letter of resignation from a longtime employee of the Department of Energy and Natural Resources. In the letter, a woman identified only as Susan offers a blistering look into the rising political tensions within the department, as well as the disgust repeatedly expressed, off the record, by the department's longtime employees, since the arrival of the McCrory administration's new Department of Energy and Natural Resources director, John Skvarla.

  • Thana Thaweeskulchai (Flickr Creative Commons)

This blog has focused primarily on Mecklenburgers who are having a huge, and hugely destructive, influence in Raleigh, which is more than enough to keep us busy; but Skvarla is definitely worth your attention. Yet another far-right true believer in McCrory's stable, Skvarla has nearly zero experience in environmental matters, yet seems confident in saying that climate change is still in dispute among respected scientists, which, for the millionth time, is dead wrong. Under Skvarla's direction, the Department of Energy and Natural Resources has postponed any investigation of known, illegal pollution of the Neuse River by Duke Energy coal ash ponds until 2015; has virtually eliminated public hearings on regulation of pollutant discharges, such as chemicals from coal ash ponds; and has stated publicly that oil may be a renewable resource (!) - which is true, of course, if you take the planet's really loooooongterm view of things.

So, here is most of the revealing resignation letter from the Department of Energy and Natural Resources employee who worked in the Asheville regional Division of Water Quality. You can read the entire letter at the Indy Week link above:

Sent: Friday, August 30, 2013 4:27 PM
To: Skvarla, John

Dear John,

Thanks so much for the note regarding Labor Day - you have always been timely with these, unlike some of your predecessors.

You and I are going to part ways today. I had a great "gig" here in the regional office - I had a great boss, great co-workers, I was still learning a good bit, and the good days were always outweighing the bad days. I was pretty certain (after my first 5 years) that I could outlast any administration the governor could appoint. I had no problem with the [GOP Gov. Jim] Martin administration - he was a man of science and no extremist.

Between your inappropriate mission statement, the dismantling of the Division of Water Quality, and HB74 [which, among other things, restricts public notice of chemicals used in fracking] . . . I see no reason to continue here - because my own mission - to assist all citizens and protect those that don't have a voice, would be compromised.

I was a good regulator - I had a bit of distrust for both sides of the aisle - which made me regulate evenly and with common sense and fair judgment. Over the past 24 years I've had the privilege to have worked with some of the most intelligent, articulate, and respected environmental scientists and engineers - I'd put them up against my friends in the private sector any day of the week. But the disdain for them (and me) by this administration is too much to bear.

When you pushed our reasonable, right-leaning Water Quality Director out, I knew we were in trouble. When you guys (and they are mostly guys...) pushed out a very thoughtful and judicial Environmental Management Commission chair, I knew we were moving into a sand pit that we weren't going to dig out of easily. . . .

. . . When the hot summers and the drought years come back, and we get fish kills again, and maybe there's fracking going on in the sandhills - it will be the fine folks at DENR who will get blamed for the chaos. The politicians and their appointees that did the dismantling and created the chaos, will be long gone. We know the drill. 

. . .




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