EPA’s “Office of Solid Waste” becomes the “Office of Resource Conservation and Recovery”

logo_epasealA rose is a rose by any other name. And changing the name of something can simply mean the name has changed, and little or nothing else, especially where politics may be involved.

But when the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announces it is changing the name of the “Office of Solid Waste” (OSW) to the “Office of Resource Conservation and Recovery” (ORCR), as part of a larger reorganization,  and the change coincides with a transition from the Bush administration to the Obama administration, there are good reasons to think the change may be substantive and meaningful.

Here is the text of the fact sheet released about this change:

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Fact Sheet 
EPA530-F-09-003 

EPA Announces Reorganization and Name Change for the Office of Solid Waste (OSW);  OSW Becomes the Office of Resource Conservation and Recovery and Streamlines Its Operations 

Action 

Effective January 18, 2009, the Office of Solid Waste (OSW) is reorganized and has changed its name to the Office of Resource Conservation and Recovery (ORCR).  The name change reflects the breadth of the responsibilities/authorities that Congress provided to EPA under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), the primary authorizing statute.  The ORCR has three divisions, which consolidate the operations of the six divisions under the old OSW structure. 

This reorganization will create a more efficient structure, consistent with current program priorities and resource levels, which will enable EPA to better serve the needs of the public and its key stakeholders over the next 5-10 years.  EPA has increased focus on resource conservation and materials management; the emphasis on this important aspect of the RCRA program is expected to continue while maintaining a strong waste management regulatory and  implementation program. 

This reorganization also:  

• consolidates the four major areas of the Resource Conservation Challenge (RCC) under one division;   

• combines data collection and data analysis activities thus streamlining operations to better coordinate EPA’s efforts to analyze and present the benefits of its program; and 

• consolidates waste-to-energy activities in one division and branch. 

The three divisions in the new organization are:  Materials Recovery and Waste Management Division; Resource Conservation and Sustainability Division; and, Program Implementation and Information Division. 

For more information, visit: http://www.epa.gov/epawaste/basicinfo.htm 

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Even in these first few days since the inauguration of President Obama, it’s clear that the agency (and its website) is going through significant changes. We’ve only seen the smallest tip of the iceberg, and it will be interesting to watch.

While I’m in the neighborhood, so to speak, here is the initial statement by Lisa Jackson, who was sworn in as EPA Administrator on January 26, 2009:

lisaonbrown“I am honored by the confidence and faith President Obama and the Senate have reposed in me to lead the EPA in confronting the environmental challenges currently before us. As Administrator, I will ensure EPA’s efforts to address the environmental crises of today are rooted in three fundamental values: science-based policies and programs, adherence to the rule of law, and overwhelming transparency. By keeping faith with these values and unleashing innovative, forward-thinking approaches – we can further protect neighborhoods and communities throughout the country. “ 

— Administrator Lisa Jackson, January 23, 2009

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