The Colgate Scene
May 2003

People on the go

A former EPA regional administrator, Jack Schramm '53 now advises dozens of foreign governments on environmental protection policies. [Photo by Timothy D. Sofranko]
It's not easy being green

Jack Schramm '53 readily admits he's a policy wonk.

"If you work within the system you can change things," explained Schramm during a recent visit to Colgate. "All environmental regulations started from zero. Now, there are efforts to improve the environment at the international level. It's slow -- my goodness, it's slow -- and the need will continue long after I'm gone."

As a legislator, federal official and now, as a consultant to dozens of foreign governments, Schramm has been on the front lines of world environmental issues for more than 30 years, working in both the public and private sectors to draft and implement policies on environmental protection. It's a career that began when the former political science and philosophy major entered politics in his home state of Missouri. After a stint in the Army, Schramm earned a law degree at Washington University in St. Louis. While in private practice, he was elected to the first of four terms in the Missouri House of Representatives in 1964. Schramm gave up his seat in 1972 in an unsuccessful bid for lieutenant governor.

"I came in with Lyndon Johnson's landslide in 1964, when [Barry] Goldwater was cornered on the right, and I went out when [George] McGovern was cornered on the left in 1972," Schramm quipped. "I took advantage of one landslide and got whopped by the other, although we needed to change only one vote per precinct to win."

As a member of the Missouri Legislature, Schramm specialized in environmental and urban legislation that often moved Missouri into a ranking position among the states. He developed a reputation for problem-solving leadership in a wide range of environmental matters, and authored and floor-managed passage of major revisions to Missouri's environmental laws. His hometown newspaper, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, cited Schramm as "one of the most effective legislators ever to sit in the Missouri House," and The Wall Street Journal said he impacted state governments throughout the nation.

After a narrow loss in the Democratic primary for a congressional seat in 1976, Schramm was named regional administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency's Region III office in Philadelphia, Pa. by President Jimmy Carter. As regional administrator, he was directly responsible for administering all federal environmental laws in a region encompassing five states and the District of Columbia, supervising a staff of nearly 600 and administering more than $2 billion in program and wastewater construction grants.

It is no understatement, Schramm said, that Region III was one of the most difficult areas in the country when it came to environmental matters.

"Between us and Region V (Chicago), we had 75 percent of the country's steel-making capacity in the region, and steel was the dirtiest industry in the country, but they were also among the most powerful," he explained. "They could knock on the White House door, go up and down the halls of Congress and complain about German and Japanese steel being dumped on the country, about how the regulations would cost jobs. Back then, when it was jobs versus the environment, jobs would always trump the environment with the public."

After a wave of environmental legislation in the early 1970s, among the biggest challenges state and federal agencies faced, Schramm explained, was the implementation of regulations to meet the objectives of the new laws. His regulatory decision-making affected not only steel but also the coal, chemical and power generation industries in one of the most densely populated areas of the country.

"Three Mile Island happened on my watch," he added. "That, combined with the discovery of toxic time bombs all over the place, not only spooked my region but people all across the country." Schramm's overall effectiveness earned him the offer of a Presidential appointment as the EPA's national enforcement chief, which he declined for family reasons.

After leaving the EPA in 1981, Schramm was the founding director of regulatory and governmental affairs for Waste Management, Inc. In 1989, he began consulting on environmental issues, first for the PA Consulting Group and, since 2001, as an independent consultant. Schramm's work takes him to places as far flung as Russia, Egypt, Phil-lipines, Latvia, Turkmenistan, Nepal and Peru. Schramm, who has drafted environmental legislation enacted in several countries, has found that many governments, as the United States did 30 years ago, struggle with the implementation of policy.

"In Egypt, for example, their laws might read `Ministry A, you do this, but in coordination with Ministry B, but keep Ministry C in the loop,'" Schramm said. "Americans take management for granted. If we have a genius, that's what it is in. We're goal oriented, we know how to get from A to B to C to D. In many developing countries, they don't, and their laws reflect that. When everybody has authority, nobody has authority. My job has been to create environmental improvement laws, industrial efficiencies, sustainability and implement management systems for both the public and private sectors. Not much different from being back in the legislature." — GEF


To date, the AAF has shut down more than 35 bear farms. [Photos courtesy Andrea Mowrer]
Rescuing the moon bears

"I'm affected by those who can't help themselves or are in difficult situations," said Andrea Mowrer '89, who has joined the effort to eradicate animal cruelty in a part of the world where she had lived and work-ed after her graduation from Colgate.

In October, Mowrer became the U.S. representative for Animals Asia Foundation (AAF), an animal welfare organization headquartered in Hong Kong. From her Burlington, Vt. office, Mowrer works to build awareness and support for the AAF's efforts.

"I have a huge love of Asia and animals," she explained, "and was looking to move closer to the East Coast, so it seemed like a wonderful way for me to come home and maintain a connection with being overseas."

A major focus for the AAF (www. animalsasia.org) is to save endangered Asiatic black bears, known as moon bears because of the characteristic yellow crescent on their chests. Bear bile has been used in traditional Chinese medicine practice for thousands of years, and although many suitable herbal and synthetic substitutes exist, there are still numerous bear farms throughout China. The bears are kept in crush cages so they can be milked daily for their bile through metal catheters permanently installed in their abdomens.

The AAF has an historic agreement with the China Wildlife Conservation Association and the Sichuan Forestry Department to rescue 500 moon bears and work towards the total elimination of bear farming. Farmers whose farms are shut down are compensated so that they have funds to start a new living. Sanctioned by the Central Government Department in Beijing, it's the first accord between China's government and any outside animal welfare organization.

The organization's rescue center in Sichuan Province is the world's largest sanctuary for moon bears. The bears arrive in grave medical condition, from poor treatment as well as the effects of the crush cages -- and many missing limbs from being illegally caught in leg-hold traps, as well as suffering deep psychological trauma.

U.S. representative for Animals Asia Foundation Andrea Mowrer '89 (left) with an AAF volunteer from Germany in front of the dens and play yard at the organization's moon bear rescue center in Sichuan Province, China. Jill Robinson, founder of Animals Asia Foundation, interacts with Jasper, a moon bear who had spent at least 15 years in the crush cage. Now freed from his cage, Jasper is Mowrer's favorite ursine resident of the rescue center.

Mowrer visited the sanctuary in December, just as 19 rescued bears had arrived.

"It was an amazingly powerful experience," she said. "They were still in the crush cages. I was staying right over where the bears were, so I could hear them throughout the night." She observed operations to treat two of the new arrivals, and two had to be euthanized. The AAF workers find ways to help themselves cope when that has to be done.

"Everybody goes out to the bears that have survived, and there are 84 now [at the rescue center]," she said. "It is so heartwarming and truly miraculous to see these bears, some of which have lived twenty years in horrific conditions, act like goofballs, like little puppies. They have this incredible will to survive."

Another AAF focus is on ending the cruel treatment of dogs and cats that are used for human consumption in southern China, Korea and Taiwan. In addition to being transported, alive, stuffed together in wire cages, the animals are tortured to death in the belief that the meat will taste better.

Having returned from China, Mowrer has been hard at work, making presentations to school, college, library and business groups as well as communicating with the media.

This isn't her first job in animal welfare. Mowrer came to the AAF after serving three years as the humane education manager at Peninsula Humane Society & SPCA in San Mateo, Calif. "My job was to teach about animal rights issues, and my goal was to teach people that those who are kind to animals are kind to people, and vice-versa," she said. "It's a way of building a kinder community and learning about issues locally and internationally."

After Colgate, Mowrer lived, worked and taught English in Japan, then taught elementary school in Hawaii while earning her masters in education at the University of Hawaii. She also served as a program officer at the Center for Citizen Initiatives, a nonprofit organization in San Francisco dedicated to building democracy in Russia.

A Russian major in college, Mowrer said that her Colgate experience showed her "that the world is so interconnected. I was always surrounded by conversations about the Philippines or Nicaragua, or people returning from various countries, and I felt like I could just reach out and touch Russia, or Japan, or China. I also gained an interest in social issues -- I felt a direct connection with issues and people around the world and I felt empowered to do something." — RAC

Top of page
Table of contents
<< Previous: Diamond dreams... Next: Around the college >>