By Amanda Smith
Last year, Governor Herbert launched his SUCCESS Framework, a set of management principles designed to improve quality and efficiency in government. We embraced these principles at DEQ, and over the past year we have implemented process improvements that have increased both our efficiency and our effectiveness.
At DEQ, we define success as providing the highest quality of service to protect Utah’s air, land and water for the lowest cost. We strive to provide the residents of Utah, today and tomorrow, with a cleaner and healthier environment through sustainable regulations that support Utah’s economy and its quality of life.
We’ve accomplished this through an organizational culture that is flexible and open to change. Budgets are increasingly tight, and environmental challenges are more technically complex and difficult to solve. Success demands transparency—providing the public with easy access to information in real time and providing opportunities for feedback and dialogue.
We see these challenges as opportunities for continuous improvement.
An example of our efforts to balance environmental protection with business development can be seen in our work in the Uinta Basin. The expansion of oil and gas production in the Basin offers economic opportunity for local communities, the state, the Ute Tribe, and the nation, but increased production also increases air emissions, spills, the potential for surface and ground water contamination, and impacts from drilling waste.
In keeping with our commitment to success, DEQ is constantly assessing the changing landscape of oil and gas production and identifying ways to avoid, mitigate, or manage environmental impacts. Our divisions are working together to address a variety of environmental issues related to increased production and are looking for innovative ways to team efficiently to resolve any problems. For instance, the Division of Air Quality is leading research efforts into the science of wintertime ozone in the Basin, working with producers on implementing best management practices to reduce emissions, creating new streamlined permit and compliance paths, and developing rules that address emissions from older production sites. The Division of Solid and Hazardous Waste is working hand-in-hand with producers and waste managers to address the proper disposal of drilling waste, and the Division of Water Quality is making the Basin a priority watershed for water quality monitoring and evaluation.
DEQ is leading the way on the path to success on a wide range of environmental issues—sharing information within our agency and with other state agencies, working collaboratively with stakeholders, searching for more efficient ways to do our work, and increasing our transparency with the public.
It is an exciting time to be at the forefront of protecting Utah’s air, water, and land, not only for ourselves, but for our kids and grandkids. Leaving a legacy of clean air, clean water, clean land, and economic prosperity for future generations is our true measure of success, and we believe that we are well on our way.
I invite you to read our 2014 State of the Environment Report to learn more about the process efficiencies we’ve implemented, the programs we administer that protect the environment while supporting economic growth, and the environmental challenges we face—and overcome—on a daily basis.
I am the Executive Director of DEQ, where I feel honored to work with so many bright and dedicated people. Over the past 23 years, my career has been focused primarily on natural resource and environmental policy and law. When not at work, I enjoy being outside on one of Utah’s beautiful ski, bike or running trails with my family and dog.