Former DNR Employees Say State Needs To Better Police Water Quality

Group Sends Letter To EPA, Asking That They Make DNR Improve Enforcement Of Clean Water Act

Randen Pederson (CC-BY)

A group of former and retired Department of Natural Resources employees are urging the Environmental Protection Agency to make the state step up its regulation of water pollution.

The group has sent a letter to the EPA in support of a petition state residents submitted to the agency in October, which requested that federal regulators force the DNR to improve its enforcement of the Clean Water Act.

Retired DNR employee Ron Grasshoff was among those who signed the petition.

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“I just saw an erosion and a trend of the DNR straying away from its original mission, which is to protect the air, water and soils of the state,” he said.

Grasshoff has also signed the letter supporting the petition, along with 44 other former DNR employees.

“Some of our colleagues that had invested years, if not decades, of their careers were very concerned about the direction that the agency was headed,” said Grasshoff. “We had no problem at all of having people immediately stepping forward and wanting to be a part of the process.”

The letter cites cuts in science budgets, orders to cease discussion of climate change, and gag orders on employees as some of the most serious problems with the DNR.

In the last 20 years, the DNR has reorganized and cut upwards of 600 positions. Enforcement by the DNR has also declined, and in some cases, the agency has said it lacks legal authority to carry out that responsibility.