LINCOLN, NE (STL.News) Governor Pete Ricketts and the Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy (NDEE) celebrated the agency’s 50th anniversary at its headquarters in the Fallbrook area of Lincoln.
On July 1, 1971, the Nebraska Department of Environmental Control was created. Today also marks the second anniversary of the state’s environmental agency merging with the Nebraska Energy Office to become the Department of Environment and Energy. NDEE moved to its current location in December 2020.
”The Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy has successfully supported the responsible stewardship of Nebraska’s environment for the past 50 years,” said Gov. Ricketts. “The department’s dedicated work has helped Nebraska rank among national leaders for the quality of our natural environment. The agency will continue to deliver a high level of service to Nebraskans as we work together to grow our state for future generations.”
NDEE Director Jim Macy noted the array of programs the agency has to fulfill its mission of improving human health and stewarding the environment and energy resources. “I am proud of the work we accomplish, I am proud of the team, and I am proud of our environmental results,” Macy said.
Over the years, NDEE has evolved to meet the state’s needs. One prominent example of the agency’s successful work is the cleanup of the Omaha Lead Superfund Site in eastern Omaha. Prior to the department’s involvement, many local residential yards had unsafe levels of lead in soil from historic industrial air emissions, raising concerns about the number of children in the area who had high levels of lead in their blood. Since the site was listed on the National Priorities List in 1999, NDEE provided support to EPA and local government partners to sample soil at more than 42,000 residential properties. The agency then helped clean up over 410,000 cubic yards of lead-contaminated soil at more than 13,000 properties. “Through our joint efforts, the rate of childhood blood lead levels exceeding the ‘level of concern’ has dropped from over 25% in 1999 to well under 1% today,” Director Macy said.
NDEE’s dedicated work is reflected in Nebraska’s strong performance on national measures of air and water quality. Earlier this year, U.S. News & World Report ranked Nebraska as the sixth-best state in America for the quality of its natural environment.
This year, Legislative Bill (LB) 148 merged Drinking Water, Environmental Safety, and Water Well Standards programs into NDEE. The agency will continue to deliver a high level of service to Nebraskans, while identifying new efficiencies as it assumes permanent responsibility for drinking water programs.
Former State Senator Loran Schmit, who supported the original legislation to create the State’s environmental agency, attended this morning’s ceremony. State Senator Bruce Bostelman, Natural Resources Committee Chair in the Nebraska Legislature, also attended today’s event. Sen. Bostelman sponsored LB 148.