Energy Management Institute Seminar
November 19, 1997
Glen Allen, Virginia
Becky Norton Dunlop
Thank you all for having me today. I am very pleased to be here representing Governor George Allen. I do appreciate the opportunity to discuss Virginia’s many environmental achievements during the last four years.
To begin with, as many of you know, we in Virginia have made a concerted effort since Governor Allen took office to develop and implement environmental programs that are not just environmentally effective, but that offer citizens and the regulated community flexibility and accountability.
We have also make every effort to become less dependent on the federal government for guidance and direction in tending to the needs of our natural resources. In the last few years, Virginia has increased its capability to help citizens care for and manage their natural resources and environmental policy. Our administration has been very successful in reaching out and involving citizens from many arenas who are capable and who are committed to conserving resources.
Local governments have invested substantial amounts of tax dollars in hiring talented people who are committed to caring for the local environment in a variety of ways. This may involve managing a wastewater treatment plant, re-engineering storm water systems to reduce impacts on the local streams and rivers, or providing good scientific information so that citizens can do their part to be good stewards of the environment.
In the federal government, meanwhile, environmental protection has come to mean little more than legislation, regulation and litigation.
In Virginia, we are using a very different paradigm to pursue improvements to the environment. We believe that the traditional EPA “command and control, big central government, ever expanding bureaucracy must rule” paradigm is misguided and wrong -its day may have come but, thankfully, it is now gone.
We all know form experience that people everywhere want to achieve a better quality of life for themselves and their families. People in Virginia take very seriously the notion that government should be about providing people with the maximum opportunity to achieve their goals, and it should be both limited in its reach and unambiguous in its role. Further, we understand that a growing economy and an improving environment are mutually dependent. This principle is supported by empirical evidence throughout history. Even those who continue to champion centralized government planning and control over peoples’ lives have recognized the widespread understanding and acceptance of this principle by the people themselves.
When Governor Allen took office in Virginia in 1994, he instituted a plan to streamline the state government, update our regulatory regime, improve our government’s service to the citizens of the Commonwealth and carry out the law.
For the Department of Environment Quality, that translate into decentralization of agency personnel; providing real decision-making authority to the decentralized staff in addition to the paperwork responsibility they already had; and emphasizing compliance with the laws and regulations as the first priority to achieve beneficial results for the environment. My experience tells me that an empowered staff that works closely with the people to help them understand and achieve compliance with existing laws and regulations can tangibly improve the environment.
Perhaps even more important in assuring long-term improvements to our environment, DEQ became a functional organization, rather than the EPA-driven traditional media/program specific structure. This meant that the organization re-focused on permit writing; inspections and compliance; monitoring and evaluation; and enforcement. Each functional area includes staff with background and training in air, water, and waste -a cross-media structure. This is simply a logical way in which to provide a more effective approach to environmental challenges. The decentralization of power, authority and resources, as well as the functional structure, were dramatic changes for Virginia’s environmental agency.
The “command and control” bureaucrats in the central establishment, who had been growing ever larger and more powerful, did not readily accept these changes. Nor did the mid-level managers as they witnessed their previously growing power flowing to public servants on the front lines -public servants who were eager to be problem solvers.
However, many professionals in the regions as well as talented and committed professionals in the agency’s central office saw the benefits of this new concept and have been tremendous assets in demonstrating that this is the direction environmental management should take. Virginia’s DEQ is now focused on achieving results that benefit the environmental quality of the Commonwealth by identifying site and situation specific challenges, and tackling these challenges individually rather than from a “one size fits all” regulatory standpoint. The agency is also free to direct more resources to developing good scientific standards. An important by-product of this philosophy is that our field agents, by living in these communities, have a vested interest in promoting a clean, safe environment.
Under the newly structured DEQ, the regions have the lead responsibility and authority for the core agency responsibilities. The central office now provides assistance to the regional staff instead of oversight and concentrates on developing broad policy and coordinating for consistency. Additionally, in the central office are housed programs that cross state lines and regional lines such as the Chesapeake Bay program office and the Ozone Transport Commission.
Now, the first line of enforcement for Virginia now is the consent order. Dollars invested resulting in real improvements to the environment are dollars much better spent than those sent to the U.S. Treasury as “fines.” This is not an entirely new policy in Virginia. The consent order is effective and results in measurable improvements to the environment in agreed upon methods and timetables. Responsible use of consent orders allows the regulator and the regulated community to work together to achieve what is supposed to be our goal: improving the quality and condition of our environment.
You may ask, how have our changes worked? Well, perhaps the ultimate test lies in the condition of the environment. As we have been able to demonstrate in the last few years, not only are Virginia’s taxpayers getting more efficient use of their tax dollars, but they are also enjoying an environment that is clean and getting cleaner.
This has been recently confirmed by the fact that three of four non-attainment areas for air quality qualify to be reclassified as “attainment,” ninety-five percent of the nearly 30,000 miles of rivers and streams monitored by DEQ meet federal standards for fishable and swimmable; we have eliminated the most serious environmentally threatening tire piles and successfully recycled over four million tires since 1994; the backlog of repayments for clean-up of thousands of leaking underground storage tanks the Allen Administration inherited three years ago has been completely eliminated and we have moved to science-based risk assessments of UST sites; blue crabs, croakers, and rockfish abound in our waters; and deer and wild turkey populations are larger now than they were in the 1950s.
This new approach to environmental management also has led to widespread customer satisfaction and has been a great help to state administrators in developing and implementing policies that make sense for each region of the state. It has given Virginia a national and international reputation of efficient and timely permitting; fair application of common sense laws and regulations; and a willingness to work with businesses so Virginia will continue to have a growing economy and an improving environment.
We in the Allen Administration look to groups like yours to develop innovative, cost-effective environmental concepts. As a result, Virginia has taken the lead in presenting fresh, innovative solutions to resolving environmental problems, from environmental audits to voluntary remediation. The importance of a safer, cleaner environment is recognized by all and is represented by a stronger commitment to science and alternative solutions.
One area that is of particular interest to this audience is the Governor’ s Virginia Energy Plan. Again, under Governor Allen, this plan capitalizes on the government-business partnership. This approach provides new business opportunities to engineers and contractors in the energy business and makes it attractive for government agencies to contract with you to reduce their energy use and thereby reduce environmental emissions.
One element of the Virginia Energy Plan involves a concept called “shared energy savings contracting.” Using this tool, a government agency can finance and build major energy-related improvements by private enterprise without going through all of the government’ s complex budgeting process. Also, private enterprise can offer unsolicited proposals to government agencies for energy savings projects that are paid for from operating funds through the savings for energy costs. After being repaid their costs, then, the private contractor and the state agency receive additional multi-year annuities from the savings for up to ten years. This is a genuine win-win concept.
Longwood College, in Farmville, was the first Virginia agency to take advantage of this program. Rick Hurley, their vice president for business, desperately needed improvements to the college’s heating and lighting systems. He turned to Melvin Moore, Longwood’s energy manager. They put together a request for proposal that was responded to by Honeywell Corporation, among others. After Honeywell’s state-of-the-art improvements to the systems, Longwood has experienced a measured and verified 20% drop in energy costs. Longwood is not only able to operate more efficiently, but has paid for the improvements from savings and is adding money to its bottom line that it can spend on other pressing needs.
At Gunston Hall Plantation in northern Virginia, just south of Fort Belvoir, soaring energy bills were playing havoc with this popular tourist attraction budget. Charles Sims, under the guidance and encouragement of the Plantation’s Director, explored options for reducing the bills. Much like Rick Hurley at Longwood, Charles Sims learned how to draft an RFP for shared energy savings and offered an opportunity to upgrade Gunston Hall’s heating and lighting system to private industry. In only its first year of measured savings, Gunston Hall Plantation has seen a 39% drop in its electric bill. While not quite as dramatic as the electricity drop, fuel costs have been significantly decreased as well.
With encouraging results such as these, we in Governor Allen’ s administration, welcome private industry to vigorously pursue opportunities to get on the shared energy savings bandwagon. And know that when you do so, not only will you build your business opportunities and save the taxpayers a great deal of money, also you will help improve the environment through the reduction in emissions which will result from energy savings technologies put in place. This just demonstrates yet another important principle about environmental policy: The learning curve is green!
We, in Virginia, under Governor Allen’ s leadership, have evidence that our programs are making a difference in the lives of our citizens, both from an economic standpoint and from an environmental standpoint.
As a public servant, I have been extremely honored and fortunate to have served two of this nation’s greatest leaders -Ronald Reagan and George Allen.
For President Reagan, I served as Deputy Assistant to the President for Presidential Personnel and Special Assistant to the President for Cabinet Affairs. I had the privilege of working directly with the President on a regular basis. It was from this great leader that I learned to keep my eye focused on the goal; not to sway from principles; personnel is policy and to stay in touch with the people -not with the newspapers.
As many of you have noted, I brought those lessons that I learned from President Reagan with me and they have kept me in good stead.
In closing, I would like to leave you with several adages to ponder: Where there is no vision the people perish. Do all that you do with excellence.
It has been a wonderful and rewarding experience serving the citizens of Virginia in the cabinet of Governor George Allen, and as I return to Arlington in January, it will be with many new friends, many great memories, and, most of all, a wealth of new experiences and accomplishments.