Tag Archives: Martineau

TDEC Commissioner’s Link to Lawsuit Questioned

Tennessee regulators have taken a West Tennessee plastics manufacturer to court over violations of the state’s clean water act, reports The Tennessean..
But an environmental group is raising questions about the action because Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation Commissioner Robert Martineau once represented the company.
The Tennessee Clean Water Network, a Knoxville-based environmental group, said it notified regulators of the pollution problems at Teknor Apex in Brownsville. The group was set to file its own lawsuit in federal court when the state acted.
“Commissioner Martineau has a clear conflict of interest in this case, and we can only hope the filing of this lawsuit is not just a brazen attempt to insulate a former client from effective enforcement,” RenĂ©e Victoria Hoyos, the water network’s executive director, said in a statement.
Fines in state court are $10,000 a day per violation, while under federal law they are $37,500 per day.
Hoyos said TDEC could have avoided the conflict by allowing the water network to move forward with its lawsuit.
“We are already doing the enforcement action,” Hoyos said in an interview. “They don’t need to go after this guy.”
Martineau is a named plaintiff in the lawsuit. Before Gov. Bill Haslam appointed him to the post in January 2011, Martineau was an attorney with the law firm Waller. He represented Teknor Apex while at the firm
TDEC spokeswoman Meg Lockhart said Martineau had no part in deciding to file the lawsuit. When Martineau became commissioner, he filed a list of all potential conflicts with TDEC’s general counsel, she said. Teknor Apex is on the list.
Martineau did receive a letter sent directly to him from the water network about the problems at the company, Lockhart said. But she said the letter was then directed to the department’s attorneys.
“It is simply irresponsible for (Tennessee Clean Water Network) to make allegations of impropriety that have absolutely no basis in fact,” Lockhart said by email.
James Weaver, an attorney at Waller who represents Teknor Apex, said the firm goes to extreme measures to avoid conflicts with clients Martineau once represented.

Martineau: TDEC ‘Too Slow and Unpredictable’

Excerpt from an op-ed piece in The Tennessean by Robert Martineau, commissioner of the Department of Environment and Conservation:
After a year of careful study that included extensive feedback from employees and stakeholders, one message came through loud and clear: While the department is full of many dedicated public servants with great technical expertise, TDEC had to change.
Environmentalists and business leaders alike agreed our processes had become too slow and too unpredictable. Our best employees were stymied by a cumbersome bureaucracy that often created disjointed policy and no longer rewarded individual effort and creativity.

Martineau: Not Backtracking on Environmental Protection

By Erik Schelzig, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A leadership shakeup at the state Department of Environment and Conservation doesn’t indicate the agency is downgrading pollution enforcement efforts, Commissioner Robert Martineau said Monday.
House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Turner of Nashville in a meeting of the Joint Government Operations Committee questioned Martineau about the recent staff shakeup that included the firing of the department’s top solid waste management and water pollution control officials. The director of state parks also announced his retirement.
“With the recent firings and forced retirements, I hope we’re not changing direction here and becoming friendly to the polluters of this state,” Turner said.
Martineau did not specifically address the staffing changes, but said Republican Gov. Bill Haslam’s administration will continue to enforce federal and state pollution control standards.
“I will assure the committee that our decisions are not in any way to backtrack on environmental protection,” he said. “I think the governor’s committed to maintaining strong environmental protection, and doing so in a way that also fosters economic development.”

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Eagles More Interesting Than Legislators or Bureaucrats?

A bald eagle at work in its nest at Harrison Bay State Park in Chattanooga temporarily stole the show Wednesday at a legislative oversight hearing Wednesday, reports the Chattanooga TFP.
State Environment and Conservation Commissioner Robert Martineau piped in a feed of a live webcam set up earlier this month to observe a pair of bald eagles, a male and female, that have set up residence in a tree for the second straight second year at the park.
“I’m going to turn it over to Brock (deputy commissioner Brock Hill) unless the eagle upstages us,” Martineau told Senate Environment, Conservation and Tourism Committee members.
Too late, said committee Chairman Steve Southerland, R-Morristown, as he looked at his colleagues: “I think it has.”
Lawmakers’ focus initially switched back and forth between Martineau, Hill and the video screen showing the live Internet streaming of the bald eagle. Oblivious to the camera and its audience, the large bird, a national symbol, shifted to and fro in the nest. It used its beak at times to apparently test the sturdiness of sticks and twigs used to create the nest. Occasionally, a breeze ruffled the white feathers on the eagle’s head.

New TDEC Commissioner Makes Some Environmentalists Skittish

The appointment of Bob Martineau as commissioner of the state Department of Environment and Conservation is “making some environmental activists skittish” because of his background, according to Anne Paine. Before his appointment by Gov. Bill Haslam, Martinearu was a lawyer who represented businesses in disputes over pollution with federal and state regulators.
Earlier in his career, Martineau worked for the Environmental Protection Agency.
But he has played a key role for the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce & Industry, which has often been at odds with the environmental community over issues of policy and regulation.
Martineau, then with the law firm Waller Lansden Dortch & Davis, served as co-chairman of the chamber’s air subcommittee, which meets ahead of TDEC’s air pollution control board to talk about upcoming issues. The 14-member board, which includes three chamber representatives, establishes regulations to carry out the state’s air quality act and hears enforcement cases.
“Bob is a very focused person, very deliberative and one who can convey a message well,” said Wayne Scharber, a lobbyist and vice president of environmental affairs for the state chamber.
Martineau and his expertise should be a great asset to the state, Scharber said, at a time when regulations to address carbon dioxide, a major greenhouse gas, are imminent, as is a tightening of standards for ozone, which is harmful to lungs and plants.

Martineau says he believes a balance can be struck between protecting the environment and the interests of business and communities. And he’s been meeting with environmental groups, apparently winning over some skeptics once they talk with him in person.
“Any matters I was active in that were pending before the department at the time I was appointed, I basically am recusing myself from — consistent with the governor’s ethics policy,” he said.
Martineau called his new job a fun opportunity given his background. He looked forward to having a broad role in environmental policy as well as the challenge of protecting air, water and land while allowing industries to thrive and grow.