Here’s a peek behind the scenes in the heady days of the Reagan years.


Book excerpts:


  • Hubris is the bane of all new political appointees who feel they have all the answers and their predecessors did everything wrong. Having all the answers but not knowing what the question is, is quicksand.
  • The lesson is clear: with EPA’s revolving door of administrative and regional administrators, it seemed that a system of management accountability could not be effectively carried out at EPA. Thus In 1993, Congress passed and President Bill Clinton signed into law — The Government Performance and Results Act (Pub. L. 103-62).
  • The EPA must be clearly focused on implementing existing laws and regulations, and on a more effective nationwide enforcement system (including oversight of state compliance activities under delegation agreements). We must ensure that investment of our treasury in past and future pollution control (particularly from point sources) actually achieves its designed goals. Also, research in all media must be consolidated and oriented toward emerging environmental problems and serve to reinforce new regulations or regulatory reform, not remain detached from media program pursuits. While enhancing our ability to monitor and detect both environmental trends, we must also ensure the effectiveness of our institutions to meet their objectives. American citizens have a right to expect a higher standard of implementation and enforcement than in the past, with states on the front line, not EPA.
  • I believe that the root cause of the problems EPA created or encountered in rolling out the CWA, the effluent guideline, permits and enforcement program in particular, and its seeming inability to make its own policy corrections, stem from the revolving door of EPA leadership, beginning with Ruckelshaus’ departure in April 1983. His successor, Russell Train, could not have understood the complexity of the issues resulting from the Water Policy Paper; the ship had sailed, so to speak, and no one was going to challenge EPA’s course — not even the GAO or the Congress.
  • If you believed what you read in the mass printed media — that the top presidential appointees who followed Anne McGill Gorsuch to EPA in 1981 were ideologues, bad people, unqualified and basically bereft of intellect or ideas, you would be wrong. There was, however, one exception.