The Revolving Door: Waste Management, Monsanto, and the EPA

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According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), its mission is to ensure “federal laws protecting human health and the environment are enforced fairly and effectively”. The agency is responsible for regulating many of the nation’s largest companies, from large agricultural firms to waste disposal entities.

Most high-level EPA employees have backgrounds in politics or academia, and almost all have law degrees. Several, however, come from the same companies the EPA is supposed to regulate.

The two largest private sector sources for these EPA positions are Monsanto and Waste Management Inc. Since the creation of the EPA in 1970, at least twelve high-level employees of the agency also have one of these two companies on their resume. Tweet it:

Most notably is William Ruckelshaus. He served as the EPA administrator, the agency’s top position, twice, from 1970-1973 and from 1983-1985. While he has a record of working toward environmental improvement, he also has ties to some of the giants in the industry he regulated.

Mr. Ruckelshaus was the CEO of Browning-Ferris Industries (BFI), which is Waste Management’s largest competitor and second largest waste disposal company in the world. Like Waste Management, BFI is no stranger to allegations of causing widespread pollution and has gone to court a number of times. The largest of these settlements was out of court for $15 million.

Mr. Ruckelshaus also serves on the board of a number of large companies, including the infamous Monsanto Company.

Monsanto has long been accused of facilitating the ‘Revolving Door’ between its top management and the top positions at the agencies that regulate the company. Monsanto has adamantly suggested it does not try to influence these regulatory agencies in any coercive way through employment and has made public statements on its official website to that effect.

The fact remains that at least a dozen high level EPA employees have come from these two private sector entities and they will likely not be the last.

Gina McCarthy
Gina McCarthy, nominated to lead the EPA, photo credit: umb.edu

It appears, however, the Obama Administration is going in the other direction. The president’s newest appointment for the top spot at the EPA is Gina McCarthy.

McCarthy has over 30 years of experience in the environmental regulations field, both at the state and federal levels. She is a governmental insider unlike the previous individuals appointed to lead the agency.

The McCarthy appointment helps put a spotlight on the tough decisions that must be made concerning one of the most important agencies in the country. Do agencies need a government insider with decades of experience in the regulatory field, or someone with experience in the industry that agency is charged with regulating? Tweet it:

There is no clear answer and it will likely stay that way for some time. For now, it appears that this president feels a government insider is the best choice for the nation.

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  1. http://www.picowiki.com/ Hello there, I found your web site via Google while searching for a related subject, your website came up, it appears to be like great. I've bookmarked it in my google bookmarks. Hello there, simply changed into aware of your blog thru Google, and located that it is truly informative. I am going to be careful for brussels. I'll appreciate if you proceed this in future. Numerous other folks might be benefited out of your writing. Cheers!
  2. Zachery Write more, thats all I have to say. Literally, it seems as though you relied on the video to make your point. You obviously know what youre talking about, why throw away your intelligence on just posting videos to your weblog when you could be giving us something informative to read?
  3. Alex Gauthier at this point I think it's to be expected that regulators are going to be involved in the industries they're regulating, the key will be ensuring that the regulators are doing their jobs effectively
  4. joe cucchiara Let's not be naive. Hire a retired regulator,pay him well and he will show you every trick that he knows as to how to get around all the regulations! One doesn't have to be a rocket scientist to see how this works. Any government regulator should sign a non compete clause in his contract stating he/she will not accept employment for four years, that would in any way be considered a conflict of interest. This would be a decision for the prospective regulator to make at the time of the job proposal and nothing to do with his right to work. Non compete clauses are commonly used at almost every Law firm as a matter of common practice.
  5. Lea Bradford This isn't a matter of competition, though. The corporate world and the government aren't supposed to be in competition, the government is supposed to set the laws and enforce them to protect the public interest. Since that's so, they shouldn't hire people from industry and those in office should be barred from ever working for the industry they regulate in any capacity. Problem solved. This whole thing just reminds me that The reason we have a new EPA director in the first place is that Lisa Jackson resigned over being shut up about the study her administration performed on the consequences of fracking. Wonder how long before Gina Mccarthy runs into the same problem.
  6. Lucas Eaves I think it is a complicated question, but some things can be done to avoid too much collusion. Make sure they cannot go back to the industry they just regulated for a while after being in a governmental position or something like that.
  7. Edward Bonnette That's the real problem. People will always go from public to private, or private to public. The problem as I see it comes when someone goes from public to private to public again, or vice versa. This creates the potential for people to 'game' the system.
  8. Michael Higham I suppose those working for the companies that are supposed to be regulated would know best about what needs to be done! I understand the potential conflict of interest and I see it can create problems, especially when former employers get into legal trouble.
8 comments
http://www.picowiki.com/
http://www.picowiki.com/

Hello there, I found your web site via Google while searching for a related subject, your website came up, it appears

to be like great. I've bookmarked it in my google bookmarks.

Hello there, simply changed into aware of your blog thru Google, and located that it is truly informative. I am going to be careful for brussels. I'll appreciate if you proceed this in future.

Numerous other folks might be benefited out of your writing.

Cheers!

Zachery
Zachery

Write more, thats all I have to say. Literally, it seems as though you relied on the

video to make your point. You obviously know what youre talking about, why throw

away your intelligence on just posting videos to your weblog when you could be giving us something informative to read?

Alex Gauthier
Alex Gauthier

at this point I think it's to be expected that regulators are going to be involved in the industries they're regulating, the key will be ensuring that the regulators are doing their jobs effectively

Lucas Eaves
Lucas Eaves

I think it is a complicated question, but some things can be done to avoid too much collusion. Make sure they cannot go back to the industry they just regulated for a while after being in a governmental position or something like that.

Michael Higham
Michael Higham

I suppose those working for the companies that are supposed to be regulated would know best about what needs to be done! I understand the potential conflict of interest and I see it can create problems, especially when former employers get into legal trouble.

joe cucchiara
joe cucchiara

Let's not be naive. Hire a retired regulator,pay him well and he will show you every trick that he knows as to how to get around all the regulations! One doesn't have to be a rocket scientist to see how this works. Any government regulator should sign a non compete clause in his contract stating he/she will not accept employment for four years, that would in any way be considered a conflict of interest. This would be a decision for the prospective regulator to make at the time of the job proposal and nothing to do with his right to work. Non compete clauses are commonly used at almost every Law firm as a matter of common practice.

Edward Bonnette
Edward Bonnette

That's the real problem. People will always go from public to private, or private to public. The problem as I see it comes when someone goes from public to private to public again, or vice versa. This creates the potential for people to 'game' the system.

Lea Bradford
Lea Bradford

This isn't a matter of competition, though. The corporate world and the government aren't supposed to be in competition, the government is supposed to set the laws and enforce them to protect the public interest. Since that's so, they shouldn't hire people from industry and those in office should be barred from ever working for the industry they regulate in any capacity. Problem solved. This whole thing just reminds me that The reason we have a new EPA director in the first place is that Lisa Jackson resigned over being shut up about the study her administration performed on the consequences of fracking. Wonder how long before Gina Mccarthy runs into the same problem.