New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is one of the state’s most important agencies. It is charged with protecting our air, water, and land — the natural resources on which all New Yorkers depend to provide a healthy and high quality environment to live, work, play, and visit. But in recent years, the DEC has suffered from dramatic staff cuts, losing many of its most experienced scientists and engineers.
This trend is potentially quite dangerous — and costly — for public health and the environment. Is the DEC still able to enforce the law and protect our natural resources? Have staff cuts forced the DEC to cut corners in protecting our air and water quality and managing forests and other public lands? By cutting back on financial resources to the DEC, is the state saving money or just borrowing on our future?
These questions are sorely in need of public discourse and debate. We do not have the complete answers to these important questions, but Endangered Agency is meant to stimulate this debate. We seek to highlight some recent developments and practices at the DEC, and to point out the environmental harm that may arise if these practices are allowed to continue.