A long-time regulator at the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources left her job at the regional office in Asheville on Friday. Before she left, Susan Wilson wrote a "Dear John" letter to DENR secretary John Skvarla.
It was not a cheery good-bye note. Wilson does not agree with the state's new outlook on environmental regulation. She added a "take this job and shove it" YouTube link to her email.
A DENR spokesman said Skvarla will be responding.
Update: Wilson said in a telephone interview Tuesday afternoon that she retired after about 24 1/2 years, "a little sooner than I wanted to."
She said she gave a lot of thought to what she wrote. "You don't do that lightly. I lit the fuse and burned the bridges."
Here's the email, obtained as the result of a public information request.
Subject: RE: Labor Day
Thanks so much for the note regarding Labor Day - you have always been timely with these, unlike some of your predecessors.
You and I are going to part ways today. I had a great "gig" here in the regional office - I had a great boss, great co-workers, I was still learning a good bit, and the good days were always outweighing the bad days. I was pretty certain (after my first 5 years) that I could outlast any administration the governor could appoint. I had no problem with the Martin administration - he was a man of science and no extremist.
Between your inappropriate mission statement, the dismantling of the Division of Water Quality, and HB74 (along with a few other gems from this session's NCGA), I see no reason to continue here - because my own mission - to assist all citizens and protect those that don't have a voice, would be compromised.
I was a good regulator - I had a bit of distrust for both sides of the aisle - which made me regulate evenly and with common sense and fair judgement. Over the past 24 years I've had the privilege to have worked with some of the most intelligent, articulate, and respected environmental scientists and engineers - I'd put them up against my friends in the private sector any day of the week. But the disdain for them (and me) by this administration is too much to bear.
When you pushed our reasonable, right-leaning WQ Director out, I knew we were in trouble. When you guys (and they are mostly guys...) pushed out a very thoughtful and judicial Environmental Management Commission chair, I knew we were moving into a sand pit that we weren't going to dig out of easily. When you, along with your "great Tom Reeder", decided to cleave off the stormwater programs and move it to Land Resources, who have never been trained for such..nor do they much care about WQ, I knew it was time to leave. I'm sure the 401 Water Quality program is next (especially since you said we should be more like TX and SC).
I'm all about customer service (as the majority of employees in DWQ are, and have always been), but that just seems to be a smokescreen for a very extremist republican agenda.
Likely there will be some uptick in the business environment in the next few years (mainly because the economy has started to recover from the disaster your friends on Wall Street created). But when the hot summers and the drought years come back, and we get fish kills again, and maybe there's fracking going on in the sandhills - it will be the fine folks at DENR who will get blamed for the chaos. The politicians and their appointees, that did the dismantling and created the chaos, will be long gone. We know the drill.
For my brothers and sisters in the Division of WATER QUALITY (the so called "seat warmers") who don't have the option to be able to move on, due to various obligations and a destroyed economy, let me leave you with a video I pilfered from the internet 'cause I didn't have the tools to make my own.
You can view this while I gather up my toothbrush and grab my loincloth to start heading out the door.