About the Gorilla
Who is the gorilla? It’s the EPA.
This is a robust read — a big, bold book that goes behind the headlines and sets the record straight. Eric Eidsness informs readers about the inner workings of the EPA and shares a personal narrative. The writing reflects his service as a naval officer in the “American War in Vietnam” and how that experience profoundly influenced his worldview and career at EPA both at its founding and a decade later.
The challenging times in which he served as Assistant Administrator for Water, Eric experienced the best and worst in a hierarchical, top-down approach to governance. He explains what really happened during the “Reagan years” under EPA’s first female Administrator, Anne McGill Gorsuch. Avoidable and unavoidable missteps were made from 1981–1983. It became public fodder — red meat for the President’s enemies and an exposé of the Agency’s hierarchical top-down system.
“Sewergate” is how this era was characterized in the media. The coordinated environmental lobby pressed a narrative of the Reagan/EPA backing away from federal environmental laws, wrongdoing including sweetheart deals, favoritism, and demoralizing the career staff of EPA. The federal perjury conviction of Rita Lavelle, Assistant Administrator for Solid Waste and Emergency Response, was proof. Lavelle misused her office, which commenced the allegation of wrongdoing. She lied before a congressional committee over a funding decision under Superfund that may have benefited a former employer for which she served three months of a six-month prison sentence, paid a $10,000 fine, and received five years’ probation.