On August 2, 2023 Governor Brian Kemp announced that the Board of Natural Resources (DNR) voted unanimously to approve Jeff Cown as Director of the Environmental Protection Division (EPD), effective August 16.
Jeff Cown has been with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources and has served as the Director the State Parks and Historic Sites Division since September of 2018. In this role, he oversees the management of 70 properties that preserve the state’s environment and history. Prior to this role, Cown spent over 28 years with the Environmental Protection Division, serving as Chief of the Land Protection Branch. He earned a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Engineering degree from the University of Georgia and is a graduate of the Institute of Georgia Environmental Leadership (IGEL), Georgia’s environmental leadership program.
Before he became director of the State Parks and Historic Sites Division in 2018, he spent 28 years with EPD in various roles dealing with solid waste, surface mining, hazardous waste and other issues before ultimately leading the land protection branch. He studied agricultural engineering at the University of Georgia.
The state agency is currently weighing whether to allow an Alabama-based company to mine near the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, which is a proposal that received public opposition and pushback from lawmakers. And federal regulators are taking steps to crackdown on sites where toxic coal ash has been left in unlined pits in contact with groundwater, as Georgia Power plans to do at a few legacy fossil fuel locations.
The new budget process kicked off this week, with Dunn giving state agencies the green light Wednesday to request a spending increase for the first time in years. It’s also a change in tone for state budget writers who had been bracing for a recession.
Agency leaders can request up to 3% more in spending for the current and next year’s budgets or ask for one-time spending bumps for projects. But such proposals should also offer ways to shave off 1% in savings through greater efficiencies in the new budget year that starts next July.