A front-page story in Tuesday’s Times Union described one likely cause: the leak of a memo sent by DEC to the Budget Division that laid out in stark terms the possible consequences of the planned layoffs of more than 200 agency employees.
The unsigned, undated memo warned that fewer polluted sites would be cleaned up, fewer regulators would be available to oversee the potential natural gas drilling boom in the Marcellus Shale, and stocking of game fish could halt.It's too bad that the governor feels it necessary to shoot the messenger. An agency head should not be sacked merely because he reports the natural consequences of staff cuts. With fewer staff, enforcement must suffer.
In order to avoid cuts to programs that protect human health or address immediate environmental damage, the memo suggests the most logical places for deep cuts would be outdoor recreation and sports — including skiing, fishing, hunting, camping and hiking.Really? Well, this raises some questions. People pay fees for skiing, camping, fishing and hunting. Why did Mr. Grannis suggest cutting these things when people pay for them? Is it because they all are almost exclusively Upstate NY activities (Grannis is from Manhattan)? Is it politics (where Downstate dominates)? Did Grannis forget that the DEC used to be the Conservation Department?
Perhaps Mr. Grannis was sacked simply because he was unwilling to deal with a state budget crisis. Yes, he correctly concludes that less staff means less regulatory enforcement.
How about doing away with some of the regulations????
We got along just fine without the DEC Office of Climate Change and the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative regulations . . . and there is absolutely no evidence that this program has any potential whatsoever to affect the climate. This was politics starting with Patacki. It can be done away with.
DEC regulates wetlands over 12.4 acres. While DEC is probably best equipped to deal with wetland protection, the Federal Army Corps of Engineers has gotten into the act, and regulates much smaller ones. There is duplication here. It was the US EPA that discovered the Oneida County sewer violations, not the DEC. Better enforcement from EPA? Or were DEC Staffers hands tied?
DEC is a complex agency, and it has a history of being motivated by more than environmental protection. The firing of Grannis may be a sign of this.