About Teru (aka Michael Theroux)
This is my third career, working to make sense of what we throw away and what
we might manage to recover of our precious resources. But my Momma should know; she says I’ve always been after the
same thing: “Planet Damage Reduction”.
Starting Up: Just as the
California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) was being signed into law (about 1970, for you fans of Ancient
History), I was an understudy to professors at Cal State, Long Beach (so-named, before becoming a “U”). My betters
were trying to figure out why there was a poisoned spot showing up in the center of the Bolsa Chica Bird Marsh
between Huntington Beach and Long Beach in Southern California (Check the LA area papers: folks are STILL trying to
save what’s left of that bird marsh!). Well, I figured it out, turned in documentation, and … ended up being run
out of California, complete with environmental war wounds and hard-won street creds.
Round One: In 1971, I
dropped my student deferment, packed my gear and waited out the draft for ‘Nam; it missed me by three
numbers. When THAT didn’t happen, I figured there couldn’t be anything else more deadly on the planet to go and do,
so I sent the word out to over 300 field stations, “Feed me, give me a roof, and let me work Biology”, which
resulted in the Field Botanist’s position at the Museum of Northern Arizona, Flagstaff. Something like 40 runs of
the Grand Canyon in our own boats later, I’d mapped the vegetation along the 382 miles, river level to 500 foot off
the deck. The work was never published; the federal government cut funding in 1978, closed the Museum’s H.S. Colton
Research Station, and it never recovered.
Round Two: Back in
California, I became licensed as an Environmental Health Specialist for Kern County in Bakersfield (I know, but I
grew up there), and spent a decade working Waste Management and Vector Control for the County Health Department. I
was firmly in place by the time California’s Integrated Waste Management Act came into play, and watched our
state’s Waste Management Board swell from about 30 to over 300 in only six months. I permitted a 2,200 acre
regional landfill and then jumped ship to work for the Enemy, the County Public Works Department that actually
operated the sites; I oversaw development of CEQA/NEPA and Endangered Species Habitat Mitigation Plans, and began
revising the first five environmental documents at the same time.
Round Three: I lost a
good friend in the line of duty (as they say) at Kern County, and figured it was high time to get outta town. I
landed in Reno, trying to compete with children in post-graduate classes at UNR when Energy first began to unravel
in California. I had a contract with USFS assessing the probable impacts of the imminent collapse of our bioenergy
Industry on the remote foothill communities that supplied the wood chips, and came to the conclusion that we needed
small, clean conversion systems to turn some of that stuff into combined heat and power at the source in those
isolated regions. In the fall of 1996, I set up a consulting business near the California state capital, and never
This is Michael Theroux's "the rest of the story”. You can find the
official version at www.jdmt.net.