Wennberg leaving state government

08/15/07 9:56AM By Ross Sneyd
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(Host) Environmental Conservation Commissioner Jeff Wennberg is leaving state government.

Wennberg says he hasn't landed a new job, but he's that decided four-and-a-half years as the state's top environmental regulator is long enough.

VPR's Ross Sneyd reports.

(Sneyd) Wennberg was a surprise choice when Governor Jim Douglas assembled his administration in 2002.

Wennberg had served as Rutland mayor and had unsuccessfully run for Congress. But he didn't have a deep environmental background.

He immersed himself in the job, though.

Some of the biggest issues during Wennberg's tenure have been resolving problems with storm water permits, controversial changes in septic system rules, and a debate over burning tires at a paper mill in Ticonderoga, New York - just across Lake Champlain.

Wennberg is proud to say that he's now been the second longest-serving commissioner in the Department of Environmental Conservation's history.

(Wennberg) "It's been every bit as challenging as I expected it to be. It's been actually a little more fun and quite a bit more rewarding than I had hoped it would be. But it is a very demanding position."

(Sneyd) Part of the demand for Wennberg has been the commute. He still lives in Rutland and spends three hours a day on the road.

He says he's looking forward to finding a new job closer to home.

But he doesn't know what that job will be, even though he's leaving state government at the end of the month.

Wennberg says he hasn't looked for work before now because he didn't want to be in the job market at the same time he was a regulator.

(Wennberg) "There are a lot of complications when you have that kind of authority and at the same time may be seeking employment. You really don't want to run the risk that you engage in something that either becomes or even just looks like a conflict of interest."

(Sneyd) Wennberg did look for a new job late last year when he applied to become secretary of the Natural Resources Agency. Governor Douglas chose George Crombie.

Wennberg says that appointment had nothing to do with his decision to leave the administration.

Wennberg will stay on the job through the end of the month, but his regulatory authority has been transferred to his deputy, Justin Johnson.

For VPR News, I'm Ross Sneyd.

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