Interview with Chandra Rosenthal, Rocky Mountain Field Office Director for Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility.
What does your organization do and how long have you been around?
Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) is a national alliance of local, state and federal resource professionals. PEER’s mission includes educating the public and speaking out, as well as defending those who speak out, about environmental ethics and compliance with environmental laws. Since our founding in 1992, thousands of scientists, law enforcement officers, land managers, attorneys and other professionals have worked with PEER to help make the government accountable to the public and to protect employees who are committed to protecting our natural resources.
What specific programs, practices, or priorities is your organization most focused on right now on? How have these evolved over time?
The previous administration mounted unprecedented attacks on scientific integrity and conservation, and PEER has seen a corresponding surge in the calls for help we receive from conscientious civil servants. We expect those calls to continue under the current administration, though they will hopefully lessen somewhat in intensity. Our challenge now will be to rebuild demoralized agencies that have been hollowed out and restore their institutional capacity for sustainable regulation and science-based policymaking.
In what ways does being part of The Alliance Center community help you achieve your mission?
As a one-person satellite office of a national organization, Rocky Mountain PEER benefits greatly from being a part of the Alliance Center community. We frequently partner with other regional organizations on litigation, advocacy and strategy; having access to the shared space helps us grow and cement our connections with aligned groups. I would love to continue developing these partnerships at The Alliance Center.
What is something you bring to The Alliance Center that no one else does?
PEER works with federal and state employees, who often choose to remain anonymous, but can provide expertise to conservation groups working in similar conservation areas but from a different perspective. PEER is often given information about changes in agency structures and policy changes before they are made public, which can give groups a heads up when developing their priorities. PEER is committed to defending and strengthening the legal rights of public employees who speak out about issues concerning natural resource management and environmental protection. We provide free legal assistance when necessary.
What does success look like for you as it relates to sustainability and your organization’s mission?
Rocky Mountain PEER works with conscientious public employees to hold their federal, state, local, and tribal environmental agencies to high standards of accountability and integrity. Success is when these agencies prioritize resource conservation and the public good, rather than catering to the needs of regulated industry.
What’s your favorite memory of being in the Alliance Center?
I have a favorite memory of one of the first times I walked into the first floor hallway. I could see the side of a yellow dog pressed up against the glass of the front offices — it definitely called for a double take — and I thought that this was one of the more welcoming places to be!