Senator Brenner, Representative Tucker, and distinguished members of the Environment and Natural Resources Committee. My name is Pete Didisheim. I am the Advocacy Director at the Natural Resources Council of Maine, and I am pleased to testify today in support of the governor’s nomination of Melanie Loyzim to serve as Commissioner for the Department of Environmental Protection.
NRCM has worked with Melanie Loyzim on multiple bills and issues over the past decade. Based on these experiences, I can attest that Melanie is the right candidate, for the right job, at the right time. I say this for three reasons.
First, Acting Commissioner Loyzim has the management experience to be successful. The role of DEP Commissioner is a challenging job, one of the more difficult positions in Maine State Government. The job involves managing an agency of more than 370 employees who collectively are responsible for administering and enforcing the body of Maine law that protects Maine’s environment. These laws are the safety nets for our rivers, lakes, and streams and the quality of our air. They guide the clean-up of hazardous waste and brownfield sites. They protect public health from toxic air and water discharges and govern the permitting processes for development projects to minimize harmful impacts to natural resources and wildlife habitat. And, increasingly, they provide for the regulation of greenhouse gas emissions to address the threat of climate change.
The DEP Commissioner must constantly balance the intertwined imperatives of protecting the environment and expanding our economy, enforcing Maine law, while also encouraging environmental performance that exceeds the minimum standard of the law.
Melanie Loyzim is well equipped to be successful at this job because she has already performed these tasks in previous leadership positions with DEP, including as Director of the Bureau of Air Quality, Director of the Bureau of Remediation and Waste Management, and two stints as Deputy Commissioner, under both a Republican and a Democrat as governor.
Second, Acting Commissioner Loyzim has the established relationships to be successful. With more than a decade of experience at the DEP, Melanie Loyzim has worked with personnel throughout the agency. Put simply: she knows “who’s on first.” She knows who’s on all the bases. Also, she knows and is known by business and municipal leaders, consultants and lobbyists, nonprofit and citizen groups, and key lawmakers, including members of the Environment and Natural Resources Committee. Since many decisions in the policymaking arena, and life in general, travel at the speed of trust, the relationships that Melanie has established make a big difference in her ability to succeed as DEP Commissioner.
Finally, Acting Commissioner Loyzim has the non-partisan disposition to be successful. It is not often that a governor of one party nominates for a senior position in their administration someone who served in a previous administration of a governor from the opposing political party. Former Governor Paul LePage did so in nominating Pat Keliher in 2012 to serve as Commissioner of the Department of Marine Resources, and Governor Mills has done so in nominating Melanie Loyzim to serve as DEP Commissioner. I see this as a testament to Melanie Loyzim’s strength as a candidate. It also demonstrates that she does not view protection of Maine’s environment as a partisan issue. She has worked with Democrats and Republicans alike on issues of bipartisan interest to protect the air, water, land, and wildlife that all Mainers value, enjoy, and depend on—regardless of their political affiliations.
For these reasons, NRCM strongly supports the nomination of Melanie Loyzim to serve as DEP Commissioner, and we urge the committee to vote unanimously to confirm this nominee.
I appreciate this opportunity to testify and would be glad to answer any questions you may have.