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An 'enHanced' view of the environment

By Wally Northway

In the late 1980s I was part of a group of students in the MBA program at William Carey University conducting a case study of a company that was planning a major expansion.

The site selected for the expansion was a tract of wetlands. When I raised concerns about the potential negative environmental impact of the proposed project I was almost hooted out of class. Even when I tried to put a dollar figure to the issue, explaining that I felt it could cost the company money and suggesting that another site might be better, it drew sighs and moans from my classmates. If memory serves the professor called it a “worthless swamp” and dismissed my argument.

My, how things have changed.

Twenty years ago a large segment of the business community called anyone with an environmental bent a tree-hugger. Today, “worthless swamp” is an oxymoron.

Earlier this month, the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) accepted 10 new members into its enHance program. enHance is a voluntary stewardship program begun in 2009 that recognizes committed environmental leaders who accomplish goals beyond their legal requirements. It is open to facilities, cities, counties and other entities that are interested in the program, and applicants can choose from three tiers — Associate, Steward or Leader.

Trudy Fisher, MDEQ executive director, said, “…successful participation in this program will result in the reduction of waste and the conservation of resources leading to long-term economic benefits and continuous environmental enhancement.”

enHance’s 2011 class is:

• Leaders: 14th Flying Training Wing, Columbus Air Force Base (Columbus); The Cooper Tire Company (Tupelo); Custom Engineered Wheels (Tupelo); Flexsteel Commercial Seating Division (Starkville); Nissan North America Inc. Canton Manufacturing Plant (Canton); and, Southern Natural Gas-Onward Compressor Station (Cary)

• Membership level change (from Steward to Leader): Leaf River Cellulose, LLC (New Augusta)

• Stewards: The City of Ridgeland; and, Zeon Chemicals, L.P. (Hattiesburg)

• Associate: U.S. Government Printing Office (Stennis Space Center, Hancock County)

Current enHance members are:

• Leaders: Baxter International (Cleveland); Caterpillar High Performance Extrusions (Oxford); Eka Chemicals (Columbus); Haworth (Bruce); Hunter Douglas (Tupelo); International Paper (Redwood), Naval Construction Battalion Center (NCBC) (Gulfport); Nucor/General Recycling (Flowood), and, Southern Natural Gas-Pickens Station (Pickens).

• Stewards: Columbus Brick (Columbus); DTE Petcoke (Vicksburg); Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding (Gulfport); Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems (Ocean Springs); and, Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding (Pascagoula).

• Associates: GDF Suez Choctaw Gas Generation (Ackerman); GDF Suez Red Hills Power Plant (Ackerman); and Gulf States Manufacturers – a Nucor Company (Starkville)

Hats off to these entities for understanding that being conscious of the environment is not only the right thing to do, it can also mean a healthier bottom line.

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