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1999 News Releases



Release Date: 11/09/1999
Contact Information: Peyton Fleming, EPA Press Office (617-918-1008)

BOSTON - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's New England Administrator, John P. DeVillars, announced today that he will leave the agency in January to join the faculty of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and to undertake an environmental business venture. DeVillars will begin teaching at MIT in February in the School of Architecture's Urban Studies and Planning Department. The environmental business venture will be announced later this month.

DeVillars was appointed as EPA's New England Administrator by President William J. Clinton in January 1994, after serving on the President's transition team.

"As head of our New England Office, John DeVillars served EPA well for nearly six years, contributing to the Clinton Administration's goal of aggressively protecting the public health and environment of all Americans," said EPA Administrator Carol M. Browner. "His leadership at the EPA has led to many environmental benefits for New England, including the cleanup of the Housatonic River. We are grateful for his efforts and wish him the best in his future endeavors."

DeVillars has been an activist administrator, working hard to forge alliances between EPA and environmental and community non-profits, business and industry, municipal leaders and academia. Under his leadership, the agency has launched a number of new initiatives in pursuit of the goal he set in 1994 to make the New England office a "laboratory for bold experimentation."

DeVillars led major changes at EPA's New England office, including significant new efforts in pollution prevention, community empowerment, environmental technology and brownfields redevelopment.

Over the past eighteen months, DeVillars led the multi-agency government team that negotiated a landmark settlement with General Electric for the cleanup of the Housatonic River. In 1997, he issued an unprecedented order curtailing National Guard training activities that threatened Cape Cod's sole drinking water supply. In 1995, DeVillars launched a partnership of businesses, public agencies and community groups designed to make the Charles River fishable and swimmable by Earth Day 2005.

Throughout his tenure, DeVillars has taken tough stances against a number of highway and development projects which threatened environmental quality, most recently in opposition to what is proposed to be New England's largest shopping mall at the former Naval Air Station in South Weymouth, MA.

DeVillars' EPA service has also been marked by aggressive enforcement against violators of environmental laws, including more than 280 actions against public agencies and the largest criminal cases in Massachusetts and Rhode Island history.

EPA's New England office has made significant strides in adopting organizational and cultural change over DeVillars' tenure. The office's leadership in this regard has been recognized through six Hammer Awards, given by Vice President Gore to honor innovative new programs and policy advances toward a government that works better and costs less. One such effort was a major reorganization and streamlining of the 800-person office. The reorganization cut the management staff in half and redeployed much of the workforce into new business assistance, community investment and pollution prevention activities.

Prior to joining EPA, DeVillars served as Secretary of Environmental Affairs for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Chairman of the Board of the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority, Director of the Environmental Services Group for Coopers & Lybrand, and Chief of Operations for Governor Michael S. Dukakis.

At MIT, DeVillars will teach a course entitled "Environmental Leadership," focusing on emerging policy, economic and management tools for public and private sector environmental professionals.

Professor Larry Susskind, MIT's Ford Professor of Urban and Environmental Planning, said, "We are delighted that John DeVillars will be joining us at MIT. He brings an enormous wealth of first-hand experience and tremendous insight into America's environmental regulatory system. His new course on Environmental Leadership will, I am sure, be extremely popular with our students."