John Skvarla, the new head of the state’s environmental protection department, continues to make environmentalists a little nervous.
On Tuesday, he issued a mission statement cautioning that environmental science “contains a diversity of opinion” and that “all public programs and scientific conclusions must be reflective of input from a variety of legitimate, diverse and thoughtful perspectives.”
The statement comes after comments Skvarla has made in news media interviews indicating he believes climate change is a controversy that remains unsettled. Although most scientists think that it is, there are some who dispute that there is global warming or, if there is, that it isn’t caused by human activity.
On Tuesday afternoon, Skvarla emailed employees of the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources introducing himself and praising the agency. He acknowledged DENR’s core mission remains protecting the environment.
He added that the department will be driven by three principles: customer service, balancing costs with benefits, and making sure that diverse opinions are considered. He attached a copy of the mission statement, which calls for a “collaborative stewardship” among citizens, businesses and regulators.
Dustin Chicurel-Bayard, communications director of the state Sierra Club, had this to say: "It would be good to know how the new administration determines what is to be considered a legitimate scientific perspective. We hope this new directive is not picking up on last year's debate on the sea level rise bill, where mainstream science was disregarded."
--Craig Jarvis, staff writer
DENR Mission Statement.PDF