Skvarla setting out to change North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources

John Skvarla
April 12, 2013 2:56:56 PM PDT
A seismic shift is underway at the North Carolina Department of Natural Resources. Governor Pat McCrory has picked John Skvarla to lead the agency, and Skvarla plans change.

The agency is charged with the duty of protecting the environment, but Skvarla says the environment should not be DENR's only customer.

"We've gotten out of balance.  When the environment is the only customer and you presume there's a cornucopia of money to support that, it gets out of balance," he explained.  

Skvarla says when he was brought on, McCrory stressed two things:

"Protect the environment and help the economy because DENR has such a bad name.  DENR is the number one obstacle to economic growth in the state of North Carolina for a long time," said Skvarla.

Skvarla maintains that can be fixed without diluting regulations, or hurting the environment.

"What I've got to do is make the regulations more accessible and friendly," he offered.

Basically, he wants to toss out the red tape that slows down business.

"It's a maze.  It's complicated.  There's different agencies in different divisions all weighing in," said Skvarla.

As for what Skvarala's own take is on hot-button environmental issues like fracking or climate change, we had trouble pinning him down.  Skvarla didn't voice strong opinions, but as he sees it, just how he sees it doesn't matter.

"My job is to put the rules in place, whichever way the government says we're going to do it," he explained.

Of course, the rules are everything and it's Skvarla's job to make sure that - if the environment is no longer DENR's only customer - it remains the agency's first customer.

"Our job at DENR is to maintain the quality of the environment - to enhance the quality of the environment - we just need to help people through the maze," he said.

Click here to watch Jon Camp's extended interview with John Skvarla

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