January 9, 2013

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With the arrival of the new year, both the Environmental Protection Agency and South Carolina’s Department of Health and Environmental Control will be seeing significant changes in leadership and staffing.

In Washington, EPA administrator Lisa Jackson has announced she will step down after four years of service during the first Obama administration.  Read more about the implications of this change, as well as both praise and criticism for EPA’s work under her leadership.

In South Carolina, DHEC Director Catherine Templeton announced this week that one senior staff person has now been placed in charge of both the agency’s coastal division and its main environmental permitting division.  Elizabeth Dieck will serve as the first “environmental affairs chief” for the agency.

Until the early 1990s certain environmental permitting required in South Carolina’s coastal counties was under the oversight of the South Carolina Coastal Council, a separate agency from DHEC.  Legislative acts in 1993, however, folded the Council into DHEC, creating DHEC’s Office of Coastal Resource Management (OCRM).  Under the change announced this week, the “environmental affairs chief” will now oversee all environmental permitting, including both general permits required statewide and those required in the coastal zone.  The change is intended to improve efficiency and foster communication between OCRM, with offices in Charleston, Myrtle Beach, and Beaufort, and the main environmental section headquartered in Columbia.

This move is not the only recent change at DHEC. The department announced just last week that 45 employees in the health division would be laid off.  Most of these positions were management level jobs, and DHEC has indicated they will be replaced by 68 new positions tasked with providing direct services.

Read more about both these changes at DHEC.