Posted by Literary Titan
Gorilla In The Closet shares your experiences working in EPA and how the agency has gotten to the point they are at, and what needs to be done to correct the path and restore public confidence in the agency. What was the hardest thing for you to write about?
Reconciling my service as a naval officer and Vietnam Combat Veteran and the rejection I faced by my own generation upon my return to San Francisco Bay in 1969; and, fast forward, reconciling my service as a Presidential Appointee in EPA doing groundbreaking work and being again attacked by my own generation and those in congress who didn’t agree with me resulting in being marginalized. Also, even in 1981-83 my Vietnam Service meant nothing to them. After my forced resignation from EPA, I was completely marginalized by society. I couldn’t get a job. Shame is the word! I had to write this book to put both of these experiences in perspective, knowing in my heart, I had served honorably. I no longer feel shame but on a very personal level, heroic.
What is a common misconception you feel people have about the purpose of the EPA?
People don’t think about EPA at all. It is never discussed at the kitchen table. It is just another bloated federal bureaucracy and EPA has earned this non-reputation owing to its political nature, the structure and revolving door of leadership where there is no continuity or strategic thinking and attitudes of many in federal service. Congress was initially responsible for this state of affairs followed by EPA employees in their hierarchical attitude towards governance. Ergo, top down with limited real forward progress on environmental protection; in having all the answers but not knowing what the question is. In the past 52 years, EPA has retreated from a hopeful perch in our society, a social experiment if you will, to a mundane agency whose reach and effectiveness is limited. It is grossly mismanaged. All this can change and the book does more than leave bread crumbs to follow in how to do this! I offer legislation that is comprehensible.
What do you hope is one thing readers take away from your story?
WE LOSE OUR DEMOCRACY IF WE DON’T HOLD OUR GOVERNMENT INSTITUTIONS AND THEIR LEADERS (LIKE ME AT EPA) ACCOUNTABLE. My profile of EPA, it’s anatomy and detached behavior, is a metaphor for almost all federal governmental agencies. Our future as a society in the face of Climate Change, rests with all of us. EPA plays a vital but limited role; but, less so than your city and county governments where there is real accountability and where they annually balance their budgets. Local politicians know the value of a dollar and they feel strictly accountable to their constituents. I hope my book sparks a focused bottom-up attack on climate change by asking the Environmental Elite to set aside their personal ambitions in the Beltway, and turn inward to their members and mobilize them to implement nationally funded local programs that reduce carbon emissions and better prepare for and manage the worst climatological effects using land use and police powers. Ironically, Reagan was on to something when he said, “Government (meaning the federal government) is the problem”. We can do better and by rebooting of EPA as an independent commission driven by engineering, technological and scientific values and goals, it can become the new NASA on which humankind that inhabits planet earth may depend for its very existence.
Author Website: gorillainthecloset.com
GORILLA IN THE CLOSET
An eye-opening memoir for those interested in government service, politics, academia, environmental history, and environmental engineering.
Eric Eidsness, an environmental engineer and former EPA Assistant Administrator for Water appointed by President Ronald Reagan, diagnoses the EPA’s missteps over the decades leading up to today’s crisis of confidence. He proposes a solution that will reconfigure the EPA into the agency it was meant to be.
Posted in Interviews
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