Jan 25, 2019
Thank you for listening to the Audible Café podcast.
With our public employees enduring the fifth week of their forced furlough during a government shutdown resulting from the actions of a despotic and vindictive President Trump, this interview — and my interview with Kyla Bennett from PEER last week — couldn’t be more timely.
In today’s episode, I am sharing my interview with Jeff Ruch, Executive Director of PEER - Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility. PEER is a watchdog of our public environmental agencies, and works extensively to empower public employees so that they are literally peers within their agencies, with a seat at the table that respects and relies on their knowledge and expertise to set and enforce policy, and honors their years of service and dedication. This honoring of our nation’s environmental laws and policies and employees is sorely missing, to say the least, under the Trump administration. Which means that PEER has been receiving many, many calls from deeply concerned and disenfranchised public employees.
Jeff has been the Executive Director of PEER since 1997. He helped to start PEER and for the first four years served as General Counsel & Program Director for the organization. Prior to founding PEER, Jeff was the Policy Director and a staff attorney at the Government Accountability Project, representing whistleblowers from both the public and private sector. Before coming to DC, Jeff worked in California state government for 17 years, mostly in the State Legislature as counsel to various committees where he drafted literally hundreds of laws on topics ranging from energy conservation to the rights of employed inventors.
We’re grateful to Jeff for taking the time to talk with us. And we’re especially grateful to him for his years of devotion to the people who serve our country as public employees in environmental agencies. Protecting the protectors - it is not an easy job. But these public servants do not deserve to be disrespected, harassed, and harmed by abusive government practices. And neither do the great diversity of species who live all across our nation — whether in public parks or on other lands — who literally depend on our environmental agencies for their lives.
So please, after you listen to the show, visit PEER’s website, learn about the campaigns they are working on, and support them. Our public agencies are responsible for ensuring that the lands and waters and living beings in their care are protected and allowed to flourish. Public employees hold the future of our nation in their hands. Let’s not let dictatorial, corporate-funded politicians keep them from doing their jobs!
Thank you for listening.
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Note: During this interview, Jeff Ruch describes the censorship and bureaucratic and legal punishment of a government scientist, Dr. Charles Monnett, who was one of the first to report polar bear mortality as a result of drowning — a deeply sad result of melting ice flows due to climate change. The images associated with this phenomenon are terribly disturbing and yet have served to bring the shocking truth of climate change before the public eye in a way climate change reports cannot. At one point in our discussion, the deceased polar bears are referred to as “floaters,” not in any negative way at all. I considered editing that descriptor out of the interview because it upset me, but then stopped myself. The importance of the scientist’s work— and especially the resulting media storm that ensued when he reported it appropriately in an “observational note” in a scientific paper and Al Gore picked up on the story and put it his book “An Inconvenient Truth” — brought important attention to the plight of these majestic creatures. I decided that I can’t let my personal, emotional reaction to a word outweigh my goal of staying true to... truth. At Audible Café, we strive to uphold the values of free and independent journalism. I hope you will agree this is more important than softening the blow of human destruction of the earth and its creatures. We must all face this truth, and act now to address it.