Letters to the editor
Pass the hemlock?
The environmental job market is horribly grim. Pink slips have hit five of my favorite colleagues this year alone. Pass the hemlock.
EP Discussion Forum
It's even worse than that. My entire department was outsourced, and one of the top performers is drinking heavily through his depression. I hate this industry.
EP Discussion Forum
"We always have time to do it over"
It is interesting how cutbacks and other leaning-out phenomena though, tend to hit on the older (read "expensive") worker. Most managements seem to have the philosophy that with hiring younger, less experienced workers they can get away with "We never have time to do it right, but we always have time to do it over."
Paul Farber, PE, DEE
R. A. Kerley Ink Engineers Inc.
Being part of the solution
I just finished reading your article "1999 Salary Survey" (Aug. 1999, p. 14). I act as one of two environmental compliance specialists with the Portland Public School District; I am happy to report that since the district recently switched to "pay for performance" based salary structure I am within the average for my job description. This was not the case prior to that switch.
Also, in reference to others who were concerned that they were not being fairly compensated based on management's view that what they did was not "revenue generating," I offer the following:
- The majority of companies that have a proactive environmental program generate revenue through cost avoidance.
- Job consolidation is a world economic issue, not an environmental industry issue.
- Job-hopping to advance professionally has been on the increase since the early '80s throughout corporate America.
And at a personal level I take pride in the fact that what I do every day is a step toward a better environment for my kids and their kids. Call it moral superiority if you want, but I consider what I do part of the solution, instead of part of the problem. Besides, who needs all that money anyway? Live more simply; it's better for the environment.
Portland Public School District
Hitting close to home
I'm a new subscriber to Environmental Protection, having just received my first issue (August '99). I must say that I'm impressed with the magazine: the contents, layout, and especially, the snappy writing. While other environmental journals focus exclusively on either technical or management subjects, EP presents a nice mix of both.
The August issue was excellent, especially the salary survey and MACT articles ("The MACT trap," p. 29). These pieces were quite informative and timely and, what's more, "hit close to home." The salary article pointed out, for instance, that the compensation for consultants has not risen as quickly as that for environmental professionals in other sectors. As a 30-year veteran EPA engineer who intends to start a consulting firm upon retirement at the end of this year, that particular news was less than heartening. (Yet, it will not prevent me from hanging out my shingle!)
The MACT article provides an excellent overview of what can be (even to some EPAers) a complex, incomprehensible program. Our group provides direct economic analysis support to the MACT standards development process. Our group's control cost "tools" (e.g., OAQPS Control Cost Manual) also are often used to provide input in making case-by-case MACT determinations and can be found at our office of Air Quality Planning & Standards Technology Transfer Network Web site (www.epa.gov/ttn/catc).
William M. Vatavuk, PE
Senior Chemical Engineer
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Research Triangle Park, N.C.
A clever impostor?
I read with interest your news from Cornell University regarding the research going on there to find a natural pesticide against the corn borer and its possible poisoning to the monarch butterfly. The photo accompanying the article, however, is not that of a monarch. It's a viceroy butterfly, a monarch mimic. Aside from a difference in size - the viceroy is smaller - the diagnostic feature that separates the two is the transverse black bars that bisect the hind wings. The monarch does not have these.
Thought you might like to know, or was this a test to see if your readers were paying attention?
William E. Thirey
Your observation is correct. You and a few other eagle-eyed readers were able to catch our mistake. The photo we used had unfortunately been mislabeled as being that of a monarch butterfly - thank you for helping us uncover the impostor!
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This article originally appeared in the 10/01/1999 issue of Environmental Protection.