So, I got to meet with the head of the EPA. Yeah, The Scott Pruitt, the one President Trump appointed. The one that was suing the EPA before he became its head… that guy. Even put my picture on LinkedIn with him.
You know why?
Because he is the head of the EPA and I run an environmental consulting firm. I’m taking the meeting.
It was a fascinating day and I didn’t really know what to expect. I meet with elected officials on a fairly regular basis — Governors, other federal agency heads, US and State Senators, Congressman, local elected officials of all kinds. It’s a sector I feel comfortable in, and that’s good because many times, I get to advocate my clients position with elected and appointed officials. To tell you the truth, it wasn’t even an out of the ordinary meeting. However, what I didn’t expect was the reception I got when I returned to the office.
Our banter in the office is damn witty, bright, and sharp but I could tell that there was something deeper going on this time.
There was a significant segment of my staff that, if I even put it softly, were disturbed. I was a bit surprised. I was really surprised. You see, for five years I have consistently presented SESCO as a firm full of Environmental Consultants, not Environmentalists. We serve Democrats, we serve Republicans and everyone in between. So, to have a somewhat partisan reaction to a meeting that I took was a surprise. I didn’t like that, so, I took the opportunity to engage in what some would call a teaching moment.
I set out to proselytize on how we must be pragmatic and that we must stand ready to always defend our clients’ private property rights. After all, we stand against what may be overstepping by the State or Federal Government (a fascinating fact: many of our clients are actually local and county governments, they are under the same jurisdiction as the private sector when it comes to environmental regulations).
Now, what I really didn’t expect was that at the end of the day, the teaching moment was really as much for me. My trusted staff members, the ones that were upset, explained to me that they took offense to the meeting because they felt like this EPA Administrator was moving their science backwards and devaluing the services we provide.
I had not looked at it that way. What I see is a guy (Pruitt) that is slowing down what many folks outside the enviro-awareness-bubble feels like radical change being forced on an unwilling population for unproven reasons. Along his way, he is preparing to employ Red Team / Blue Team evaluations of policies. Policies that have already, with much less general awareness, been through these rigorous processes.
I say, let him do it. Let him figure out with the bright, hot, white spotlight of the world watching what the general consensus of science is. Again. I have hope that the tests will return similar results and then, there will be no corner to hide from. I just hope he does it expeditiously.
This truly is very important stuff… for the rest of our existence sort of stuff.
They see it as something less valuable.
I digress; you see, because I’ve made about 30 career turns to follow my goals, my pragmatism is strong. Many of my folks are drawn to this specific industry. I forgot that for a quick minute. And I needed to get that back in my head because I often only saw that we all want to leave the world in a better way than we found it. We just have different paths. It was good to confirm that, even through discord, at the end of the day we are all rowing the same direction at SESCO.
So, do I take the meeting again? Damn Skippy, I am. I am defending my people and our pragmatic, passionate approach… Damn Skippy.
Is SESCO the best Environmental Consulting Firm where we can have internal debate that lead to best results for our clients? Say it with me: Damn Skippy!
Darren Reese, President & CEO