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Gov. Deal’s two nominees to lead EPD approved by DNR board

Atlanta skyline Atlanta has approved a program that intends to help pay for retrofitting commercial buildings to curb their use of water and power. Credit: Wikimedia.org

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.

Atlanta skyline

The Georgia Environmental Protection Division is charged with protecting the quality of air, land, and watersheds in Georgia. Credit: Wikimedia.org

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.

Richard Dunn

Richard Dunn

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.

Lauren Curry

Lauren Curry

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.

David Pendered

David Pendered, Managing Editor, is an Atlanta journalist with more than 30 years experience reporting on the region’s urban affairs, from Atlanta City Hall to the state Capitol. Since 2008, he has written for print and digital publications, and advised on media and governmental affairs. Previously, he spent more than 26 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and won awards for his coverage of schools and urban development. David graduated from North Carolina State University and was a Western Knight Center Fellow.


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  1. Equitable June 30, 2016 9:19 pm

    So the two white people slated to lead the department named “Environmental Protection” have no clue nor any experience with the environment. When was the last time either was in a non-air-conditioned environment? Gotta love Georgia!Report

  2. Burroughston Broch July 4, 2016 9:57 am

    Do you propose that two black people with no clue, no experience with the environment, and who never worked in an air-conditioned environment, would do a better job? Gotta love those who inject race into everything!Report

  3. ironiclad July 5, 2016 10:46 am

    Equitable Hmmm . do you think it has something to do with experience, education and understanding of the issues? Whom would you recommend?Report

  4. atlman July 6, 2016 9:17 am

    Burroughston Broch 
    Ever try looking into a mirror, person who injects race into every single decision that is made by the city of Atlanta and Fulton County on this blog, at the AJC and has for years? Then again, maybe not looking into mirrors is a good idea for one such as yourself because they might break …Report

  5. atlman July 6, 2016 9:22 am

    ironiclad Equitable 
    Equitable is referring to the practice of “certain people” (such as Burroughston Broch for instance) to declare every hire of a nonwhite by a Democrat as being “an affirmative action hire” or “cronyism” or “a kickback” while not having anything at all to say about far more questionable hires made by Republicans. Best example: such people have complained that Hartsfield Airport is “mismanaged” and filled with cronyism and corruption since forever. Never mind that Hartsfield is the #1 airport on the planet in traffic AND has been rated the most efficient airport in the country for the past 13 years in a row. BUT the same people can’t find a thing wrong with all of the appointments made by the likes of Sonny Perdue, Nathan Deal or even Linda Schrenko and Mitch Skandalakis (the latter 2 were convicted of serious crimes committed while in office).Report

  6. Burroughston Broch July 6, 2016 11:06 am

    atlman Burroughston Broch  Re-read the first sentence of your original comment and look in the mirror yourself.Report


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