DEC commissioner did not rewrite mission statement, but website skips pollution policy
I wrote a piece yesterday in which I falsely stated that DEC Commssioner Jason Brune changed the mission statement on the Department of Environmental Conservation website.
That’s not what happened and I regret the error. This piece is to correct that statement and clarify the situation.
What I should have said is that under Brune, the commissioner's page no longer includes this statement of DEC policy, some version of which has been on the page for the past 15 years: "To conserve, improve, and protect its natural resources and environment and control water, land, and air pollution, in order to enhance the health, safety, and welfare of the people of the state and their overall economic and social well being."
The commissioner's page no longer contains that statement, but now repeats the same summary that has been on the main DEC page since at least 2009: "Conserving, improving, and protecting Alaska's natural resources and environment to enhance the health, safety, economic, and social well-being of Alaskans."
Brune can’t change the agency’s mission statement because the Legislature retains that authority under state law.
It is fair to point out that Brune has removed the words "control water, land and air pollution" from the commissioner's page, which I don't think was an accident. The final archived version of that page from the Walker administration was from October.
After I wrote that piece yesterday, an anonymous person posted this comment: "Please view web archives before posting such an accusation. You will see that the mission listed on the website from the last business day of the previous administration is the exact same as it is today. Facts oftentimes get in the way of an agenda."
I took a closer look as soon as I saw that comment.
The mission listed on the main DEC page is indeed the same summary used for the past decade.
What is changed is that the policy statement on the commissioner's page has been removed. That statement was on the commissioner’s page as far back as 2004, when Ernesta Ballard was commissioner under Gov. Frank Murkowski.
It was on the page during the nearly 12 years that Larry Hartig worked as commissioner, starting in 2007 under Gov. Sarah Palin, continuing under Gov. Sean Parnell and ending last year under Gov. Bill Walker.
It is drawn from the state law setting up DEC, which says, “It is the policy of the state to conserve, improve, and protect its natural resources and environment and control water, land, and air pollution, in order to enhance the health, safety, and welfare of the people of the state and their overall economic and social well-being.”’
DEC has a role in combating water, land and air pollution under state law. Editing the commissioner’s page to remove that policy statement hardly shows a high-level commitment to that critical portion of the department’s work in Alaska.