by Mitch Klein
United States EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has hired Henry Darwin to serve the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as its Chief of Operations. Under both Republican and Democrat administrations, as the Director of the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) Darwin has proven his abilities to streamline government bureaucracy. He is a perfect selection for this task at the EPA.
While at ADEQ, and then as the Chief Operating Officer for the State of Arizona, Darwin has spearheaded efforts to create more efficient government agencies. He has seen tremendous success in implementing lean management principles, which have resulted in drastic reductions in the times needed for agencies to issue decisions. Regardless of where you sit philosophically, having an agency simply sit on an application or churn through repetitive processes does no one any good. Good or bad decisions can be argued about, but lengthy delays in getting any decision at all creates irreparable harm to both the environment and the economy. Darwin will work with all stake holders to aggressively streamline processes, and try to eliminate wasteful and time consuming actions that have no significant benefit to the overall goal. He was able to achieve that goal in Arizona even though the staff at ADEQ was reduced through attrition and retirement by almost half.
Importantly, Darwin is not just a “bean counter.” Because he is extremely knowledgeable about environmental issues, he will understand what processes are truly necessary to comply with both the law and the regulatory framework, to be protective of human health and the environment, and which processes simply add time and cost at little value. Regardless of political persuasion, attorneys, businesses, individuals and organizations should be heartened that EPA will be moving forward to reduce the times involved in making decisions. Whether you agree with the decision, or you want to challenge it in court, everyone should want the decision to get made in a timely fashion.