EPA To Rename OSWER: How About “The Office That Should Be Eliminated As Soon As Possible”?

Posted on November 2, 2015 by Seth Jaffe

According to the Daily Environment Report (subscription required), EPA is going to change the name of the Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response to the Office of Land and Emergency Management.  What a grand name; surely it is an improvement.

I don’t think that this quite rises to the level of rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic (though I certainly have clients who would not object if OSWER sank without a trace), but one does get the sense of a bureaucracy beginning the long, hard, slog of trying to figure out how to perpetuate its existence as Superfund – mercifully – begins to fade away.

It’s probably a vain hope, but mightn’t EPA determine instead how to reallocate those functions of OSWER that need to continue, but actually try to figure out a way to shrink this element of the bureaucracy, instead of repurposing it?


Comments (1) -

David Ullrich United States
11/2/2015 3:24:14 PM #

Dear Mr. Jaffe,
If your comment about renaming OSWER was intended to be provocative, you certainly got my attention.  Having been part of EPA when CERCLA was passed, and having worked very hard for the next 23 years to make it successful in cleaning up hazardous waste across the country, I don't think comments like this contribute to civil discourse, civil society, good government, or a cleaner environment.  Congress passed the law and gave it to EPA with an administration that had little interest in making it successful.  Some administration officials lost their jobs as a result, and at least one went to jail.  Having worked with many, many outstanding professionals At EPA dedicated to public service over the years, Superfund, and its offspring the Brownfields program, wound up transforming many stressed areas across the country back in to productive land.  Certainly the transaction costs were high, but for a law with this degree of legal and technical complexity, it is understandable.  The private bar certainly helped drive up the transaction costs.
Dave Ullrich - EPA Region 5, 1973-2003; Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative, 2003-the present; This is not the position of the Cities Initiative

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