In 1999, when federal officials unveiled a plan for restoring the Everglades, Richard Harvey was there representing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. For the next seven years, whenever there was a meeting to work out the details of repairing the River of Grass – and there were plenty – Harvey served as the EPA’s expert.
He’s been there “pretty much from the beginning,” said Jim Beever of the Southwest Florida Regional Planning Council. “He’s one of the most knowledgeable guys they’ve got,” agreed Gene Duncan, director of water resources for the Miccosukkee Tribe.
But not anymore. Harvey’s bosses have decided he will no longer work on the $10-billion Everglades restoration program.
Documents obtained by the St. Petersburg Times show Harvey was removed earlier this year after he expressed concerns about a proposal to solve Lake Okeechobee’s pollution woes by funneling the pollution into Biscayne National Park.
Harvey, who is still head of the EPA’s South Florida office, referred all questions to the EPA regional office in Atlanta. In response to a request for an interview with EPA regional administrator Jimmy Palmer, a spokeswoman said he could not comment on “a personnel matter.”