Harvey speaks out about recent DEC shifting of authority, DEC manager
defends her division's efficiency.
Susan Harvey discusses her recent loss of authority in the Department of Environmental Conservation.
Susan Harvey is one of the managers of the Department of Environmental Conservation who lost oversight authority on the North Slope spill reponse plans. Thursday, she spoke out about recent events. She said the record shows her division has been prompt in dealing with permit reviews. Her authority was reassigned to a political appointee within the DEC. more...
Anchorage, Alaska, Dec. 20 - One of the Department of Environmental Conservation workers who lost their oversight of North Slope oil spill plans spoke out Thursday. Susan Harvey and Robert Watkins were reassigned last week-on the same day Gov. Tony Knowles announced he wanted a swifter permitting process.
Some wonder if the workers doing their job too well and taking too much time renewing permits for North Slope oil fields, such as permits for BP Exploration (Alaska) Inc. and its contentious Northstar field.
Harvey said her job reviews show she was doing her job well and she claims there were no delays in renewing permits. She said the record shows her division has been prompt in dealing with permit reviews.
"The notification to me on Dec. 11 was a surprise," Harvey said.
Harvey said in the two years overseeing the North Slope's spill response plans, her division has dramatically increased the number of response drills and inspections with no permit delays.
"I think the records will show over the last two years that there has been no degradation in the time that it takes to approve a permit," Harvey said. "In fact, we've approved several of the permits faster than record."
Harvey was relieved of her North Slope authority last week, on the same day the governor announced he wanted to streamline the permitting process.
Sources said the oil companies did not like Harvey or Robert Watkins, the other DEC worker who lost oversight authority.
Thursday, Larry Dietrick, the director of the Division of Spill Prevention and Response, said recent renewals of BP permits were taking too long.
"The processing times, for example, for some of them are still six plus months. In many cases it still takes longer to process the renewal for an existing facility than it does, in many cases, to cleanup a medium-size oil spill," said Dietrick.
DEC commissioner Michele Brown was quoted in Thursday's " Anchorage Daily News" as saying some workers were nitpicking on the permits and causing delays.
Harvey said she followed state law, making sure the oil companies were prepared for the worst-case spill.
"I think everybody is concerned right now," said Harvey. "We all received awards from the management here. We've also received accolades from Coast Guard, boroughs and other members of the community for the work that we've done identifying oil spills' efficiencies on the North Slope and we're concerned that much of the good work that's been done over the last couple of years may be lost."
The person given the authority Harvey had is Jeff Mach, a political appointee within the department.
Larry Dietrick said Mach is also the man heading a department review
to look at how DEC can speed up its review process.