By David Pendered
The board that oversees the Georgia Department of Natural Resources formally approved on Wednesday Gov. Nathan Deal’s two nominees to lead the state Environmental Protection Division.
Deal announced May 23 that Richard Dunn would direct the EPD. Lauren Curry was named to serve as EPD’s deputy director.
EPD is charged with overseeing Georgia’s environment through its three divisions: air, land, and watershed quality.
Dunn replaces Judson Turner as EPD director. Turner had served as EPD director since Jan. 1, 2014.
Turner is to continue to represent Georgia in the tri-state water war. Terms of that arrangement weren’t immediately available Thursday. The issue involves the use of water resources shared by Georgia, Alabama and Florida in discussions that involve the three states, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Dunn’s background is in largely in public health, according to a statement released by the governor’s office.
Dunn served most recently as deputy director of the Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget. OPB serves as the governor’s budget-writing arm. Prior to that position, Dunn directed OPB’s Health and Human Services division.
Before OPB, Dunn served as deputy chief of staff at the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities. Dunn also has served as acting director of the Governor’s Office for Children and Families, and chairman of the Georgia Occupational Regulation Review Council.
Dunn takes command of EPD as the state grapples with a number of challenges.
One that arose just this week is attention to the high number of smog alerts issued in metro Atlanta. Already, the number of alerts issued is double the number issued at this time last year, according to Georgia Commute Options.
The reason for the increase is that the federal Environmental Protection Agency has set new standards it says are intended to improve public health and reduce air pollution, according to a statement issued by Commute Options. The program is funded by the Georgia Department of Transportation to help commuters find alternative ways to get to and from work.
The EPA set new standards for ozone in October 2015. The standard was lowered from 75 parts per billion to 70 ppb.
Commute Options said metro Atlanta ranks 52nd for the most ozone-polluted city in the nation, citing the American Lung Association’s 2016 State of the Air. That’s a dramatic improvement from 2000, when metro Atlanta ranked ninth.
In other action, the DNR board voted to approve Turner’s resignation, along with a resolution honoring and expressing appreciation to Turner for his service.
Curry served most recently as chief of staff for Georgia Emergency Management/Homeland Security Agency. She’s held the post since May 2014.
Curry previously worked for DRN as the director of public and governmental affairs. In this role, Curry worked with state lawmakers on environmental laws. Other duties included communications and marketing; policy development; and public events.
Curry worked in Perdue’s office as press aide to the governor. She served in the Department of Economic Development as director of special projects and marketing manager.