By Kristine Galloway
CHEYENNE – A longtime environmental caretaker recently retired from the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) but continuing his work for the county.
Brian Lovett retired last week from his position as administrator of DEQ’s Industrial Siting Division (ISD). In November, he won election to the seat he already held on the Laramie County Commission.
DEQ Director Todd Parfitt said, “Brian's versatility was one of his many strengths during his tenure at DEQ. From being the Industrial Siting Division Administrator to coordinating with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on a variety of critical agreements, he was consistently successful in his efforts.”
Lovett began working at DEQ in October 1999. At the time, he ran the Nonpoint Source Program in the Water Quality Division (WQD).
He was familiar with DEQ’s work before joining the agency. Lovett previously worked for the Laramie County Conservation District and the Wyoming Department of Agriculture. He holds a master’s degree in animal science from the University of Wyoming.
After four years in the Water Quality Division, Lovett moved to DEQ’s Administration Division to do outreach work. In 2004, he moved back to the WQD to run the Inspection and Compliance Program. Seven years later, he became the first official Outreach Coordinator for the Administration Division.
In 2016, Lovett took over his role as the ISD administrator.
Throughout his time with DEQ, Lovett was a strong proponent of efficiency and transparency. He said his biggest accomplishment with the agency was implementing electronic reporting for the Wyoming Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (WYPDES).
He explained that the WYPDES program previously received about 90,000 pieces of paper a year that had to be entered into a database for permitting and compliance.
“By the time I was there for three-to-four years, we had implemented the electronic reporting. The efficiency and effectiveness of the program were improved greatly,” Lovett said.
Kevin Wells, DEQ’s WYPDES Inspection and Compliance Supervisor, said he and Lovett also generated about 48 standard operating procedures to ensure all the work was consistent, which also improved efficiency.
Lovett continued some of that work as the ISD administrator.
Brian Hall took over the Outreach Coordinator position after Lovett became an administrator. At that point, they moved the position into the ISD, making Lovett the administrator in charge of the outreach work.
Hall recounted a records project the two of them undertook in fall 2019, during which they spent days at the Wyoming State Archives sorting through boxes and boxes of paperwork.
“Nobody wanted to touch all those boxes and decide what to do with it,” Hall said, explaining that searching for information in those boxes could require scouring pallets of paperwork just for a handful of pieces. He and Lovett spent hours narrowing all the paperwork down to a few boxes that could be converted electronically.
“Now, you want to look at that stuff, you go to the archive system,” Hall said.
Wells said that in addition to Lovett’s work on efficiency, he set the tone about how serious DEQ is about compliance. Wells explained that Lovett did so by holding all companies to the same compliance standards, regardless of how large or powerful the companies appeared to be.
“I think it made a huge difference with how those companies operated,” Wells said.
Hall added that Lovett laid the groundwork for more coordination between DEQ’s seven divisions and that Lovett was the best possible person to do that job.
“His demeanor – I think that’s a quality that I tried to emulate as best as I could. He was really good at just talking to anybody and trying to understand what they do,” Hall said.
“He was really just easy to get along with. Not many people have that.”
Wells served as a board supervisor for the Laramie County Conservation District with Lovett. He believes Lovett, with his knowledge and skills as a communicator, will continue to be an asset to the Laramie County Commission.
Parfitt said, “He is an effective communicator and has a great demeanor, which certainly helped his work with diverse groups and interests. He will be missed at the DEQ, and we look forward to working with Brian in his new role as a Laramie County Commissioner.”
Parfitt added that Colin McKee, DEQ's Senior Policy Advisor, has been named the interim ISD Administrator.