Monday, October 26, 2009

Perdue picks enviro lawyer Allen Barnes to head EPD

Posted By on Mon, Oct 26, 2009 at 6:11 PM

Gov. Sonny Perdue has tapped Allen Barnes, a partner at King & Spalding, to head the state Environmental Protection Division. Director Carol Couch resigned last week to take a job at the University of Georgia.

From the Atlanta Business Chronicle:

Before joining Atlanta-based King & Spalding, Barnes served as chief of staff for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Region Four, which has jurisdiction over eight Southeastern states, including Georgia. Prior to that, he taught natural resource policy and law as an associate professor at Mississippi State University. [...]

Barnes’ professional career also includes stints as a prosecutor in the Florida State Attorney’s office and as a special assistant U.S attorney handling criminal, tort and environmental litigation.

But Georgia Public Broadcasting's John Sepulvado says some environmentalists aren't happy with Perdue's choice.

King and Spalding, Barnes' law firm, is set to become the state's lead counsel in the ongoing "water wars" with Alabama and Florida.

Sierra Club lobbyist and longtime environmental advocate Neill Herring had this to tell GPB:

"Now [Perdue] is replacing a water scientist at the Environmental Protection Division with another King and Spalding lawyer, just when Georgia has to finally figure out how to fairly share its water resources with its downstream neighbors. [...]

Perhaps this is an example of the "public-private partnerships" the Governor is always talking about: He is turning over water and environmental regulation to a private firm, one that has previously represented many of the polluters regulated by the agency they will now run. That ought to be cozy for their clients, but hard on natural resources, and the public interest in them."

Barnes still has to be confirmed by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources board.

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