Once again, DENR and John Skvarla get caught in the midst of
sleaze and corruption "customer service", where this time their "customers" are powerful legislators who are using their positions as elected officials to line their pockets.
The state Department of Environment and Natural Resources changed its position on a controversial reservoir project in Cleveland County, shortly before depositions were set to begin in a lawsuit against it.
That's right, after Bev Perdue's DENR consistently opposed an unnecessary reservoir that environmental groups call a "real estate scheme", Pat McCrony's DENR put the reservoir on a fast track.
Under Dee Freeman, who headed DENR for former Gov. Beverly Perdue, the agency opposed the project as unnecessary and overly expensive. But under Gov. Pat McCrory's appointee, Secretary John Skvarla, the agency abruptly waived its requirement for a water quality permit for the project, allowing it to move forward without public scrutiny.
"It's the first time they've ever done that in the history of North Carolina," said Southern Environmental Law Center attorney D.J. Gerkin.
Then DENR got caught, and just when discovery was about to proceed in a lawsuit brought by environmentalists, DENR abruptly changed course.
"We were keyed up for discovery, and we were going to go get documents and depositions to find out what led to the decision," Gerkin said. "Within days, the state abandoned the position and revoked the waiver."
On Jan. 9, DENR sent a letter to Cleveland County Water manager Clyde Smith, notifying him that it was rescinding the waiver and that the water quality permit for the reservoir was pending. It was part of a motion asking the judge to declare the lawsuit moot.
Apparently Skvarla wants to deal with only one set of subpoenas and criminal charges at a time.
Young said the timing of the department's decision to rescind the waiver had "absolutely nothing" to do with the upcoming depositions.
Ha ha ha ha ha! Good one DENR! We didn't know you moonlighted as comedians! Be sure to tip your servers; John Skvarla will be here all week. But perhaps not much longer.