Craig Vogt Retires After 30-Year EPA Career
Craig Vogt in his winter tie, depicting scenes of his favorite season.
Twenty of those years were devoted to protecting and enhancing coastal and ocean waters. As chair of the Western Dredging Association Environmental Commission, he was an effective liaison between the dredging industry and the environmental community, helping to establish mutual understanding between the two entities.
In 2000, the Western Dredging Association designated him "Dredger of the Year", an honor granted to one individual who has done outstanding work for the dredging industry and for the organization.
He will continue to work with the WEDA Environmental Commission after his retirement.
Vogt began with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on June 9, 1969, and transferred to EPA in 1971.
His work with EPA included two years with Region X conducting water quality surveys, then a move to headquarters in 1973, where he has been ever since.
He spent five years developing effluent guidelines for the pulp and paper industry, 10 years developing drinking water standards for newly-discovered organic chemicals, and 20 years protecting and enhancing coastal and ocean waters.
As of January, 2008, he had held the post of deputy division director for 25 years.
Vogt recalled in a letter to colleagues that while a student at Oregon State University, he became inspired to join the effort to protect the environment when Lake Erie "died" and the Cuyahoga River caught on fire. He came into EPA at a time when wastewater discharges from cities and industries were mostly untreated.
"Our water environment was a mess: massive fish kills were common; sludge mats floated about in our rivers; and ocean, river and lake beaches were commonly closed due to sewage polluted waters," he said.
"We have made progress, i.e. major progress, but we are not done. Many, many more years of effort are needed for water resource problems that are becoming more and more difficult to solve," he said. These include invasive species, hypoxia, habitat loss, sediments, toxins and marine debris.
"Great challenges remain in protection and enhancement of our water environment, and I expect you all to carry on your dedicated work," he told colleagues.
In his tenure as chair of the Western Dredging Association Environmental Commission, Vogt aided in defining and fulfilling the group's objectives. These included raising the visibility and understanding of environmental issues associated with dredging, and jointly finding solutions to get projects accomplished in a timely and effective manner while achieving environmental goals. This included involving all stakeholders "early and often", he said.
Other goals of the commission were to serve as a forum for communication, understanding, and resolution of dredging issues, to promote communication of common environmental issues with World Organization of Dredging Associations (WODA) and with other professional organizations; and to promote enrollment in the Western Dredging Association (WEDA) by people interested in environmental issues and dredging.
During the "Vogt years", the WEDA Environmental Commission aided in formulating the WODA Environmental Policy, contributed to the WODA Hamburg Declaration, sponsored the Environmental Commission panel at each WEDA conference, based on the theme of the year; served as a forum to express views and to promote understanding of dredging; assisted in the Panamanian and Brazil meetings, and co-sponsored the Environment Days at World Dredging Conferences in Las Vegas, Kawala Lampur, and Hamburg.
Vogt will retire to the Chesapeake Bay on the Eastern Shore of Virginia "to enjoy a small sampling of the coastal waters we are working to protect." He reports that since winter is his favorite season, he will spend time every year at his house in Pagosa Springs, Colorado.
Editor's note: One of my earliest memories of Craig is encountering him running on the streets of Minneapolis when WEDA met there in 1994. He told me then that he makes a point of running in every city he visits. He doesn't remember how many cities he has run in, but reports that his favorites were: Portland, Oregon, along the river in downtown; Monterey, California, along the cliffs and ocean; and London, England, along the Thames.