Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Ten Habits of Highly Effective Federal CWA Regulators

I recently had an experience that reminded me of what a distinct and awesome group of people environmental regulators are, and how hard their job is in coordinating between science, stakeholders and blackletter law.  They do have their share of quirks, which I came to admire (and adopt) over my time at EPA.  I scrawled this list some time ago -- it doesn't really refer to any particular people, but some of you may see yourselves reflected... I certainly do.

10. All flora and fauna present at an impact or compensation site are "critters".

9. No matter how much the Corps/EPA/NMFS/USDA/FWS pisses you off, when push comes to shove they are "our sister agency".

8. Every Corps district staffer has the innate right to complain about how long it took to train in the last District Commander.

7. Every EPA regional staffer has the innate right to complain about the lawyers and politicos up at Headquarters.

6. HQ staff get tiny little crushes on field staff who write extremely well-researched comment letters.

5. Corps and EPA would feel secretly neglected if USDA and FHWA stopped trying to tell them how to administer the permit program.

4. Sure, they'd LOVE to handle that HQ data-call/process-mapping initiative/state assumption proposal.  Not.

3. What we say: "Your agency needs better monitoring and reporting protocols on your conservation grant projects."
What we mean: "I'm just jealous at the size of your grants budget."  

2. Everyone has a story about the time they did wetland delineations [in 2 feet of snow/in the century's worst drought/while being attacked by a doberman] and what they have found in wetlands [a '57 Plymouth/4,000 golf balls/Jimmy Hoffa].

1. A Corps PM, an EPA staff scientist, and an NRCS project officer walk into a bar, and the bartender pours each of them a shot of 30 year-old scotch.  The Corps PM says "that looks isolated and non-jurisdictional", and drains it.  The NRCS staffer says "this was converted from grain prior to December 23, 1985", and drains it.  The EPA staffer
         a) says "We need additional monitoring data -- pour me three more."
         b) says "I have to assess the physical, chemical and biotic integrity of this resource," and -- takes it back to the lab for analysis.
         c) slaps a (c) veto on the bottle and makes off with it.

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