G. Tracy Mehan III, former assistant administrator for water at the U.S. EPA during President Bush’s first term, is a widely respected expert in environmental policy. Before being appointed to his senior position at EPA, Tracy served as director of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources and director of the Michigan Office of the Great Lakes. He is now with a consulting firm, The Cadmus Group, and also teaches environmental law at George Mason University. He is known for his pragmatic approach to environmental protection (his political commentary is also insightful and thought-provoking, even if you don’t agree with his perspective).
Tracy recently presented a paper to Great Lakes foundations titled “Preparing for Climate Change in the Great Lakes Region.” He offers a common-sense approach, stating that “climate change and variability simply bolsters the case for doing a long list of things which we should have been doing anyway,” including water conservation, reducing non-point pollution, and protecting riparian areas. He recognizes that the challenge isn’t figuring out what to do, but rather convincing people to do it: “Since our fellow citizens have also heard these proposals before, and did not embrace them, we will need to pay greater attention to the arts of persuasion and communication in bringing them around in support of adaptation to climate change as one reason among many for doing the right thing.”
Tracy’s Great Lakes paper build on a prior article, “Energy, Climate Change, and Sustainable Water Management.” In this article, he looks at the challenge of climate change on water supply and infrastructure nationally. Again, his recommendations are typical of the “no regrets” strategy to climate change adaptation. He endorses full cost water pricing, green infrastructure, watershed land protection, increased monitoring and research, water conservation, and developing water markets for reallocating water resources to more valuable and efficient uses.