Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant has named 44-year-old environmental lawyer Gary Rikard to replace the outgoing executive director of the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality. Rikard is a resident of Olive Branch, Mississippi and was previously an attorney for the department back in the 1990s, where he has also worked as an environmental engineer.
Rikard succeeds Trudy Fisher who has served as the executive director since 2007 and recently announced her intentions to return to the private sector at the end of the summer. “Trudy has worked tirelessly in her capacity as executive director, and I thank her for her service,” said Governor Bryant. “Under her guidance, Mississippi has responded to significant environmental disasters, and she has ensured environmental protection while leading the agency to achieve speed and efficiency in its permitting process—something that sets Mississippi apart among economic competitors.”
“I am very pleased to appoint Gary to lead the Department of Environmental Quality,” Governor Bryant remarked. “He has the legal and technical expertise to ensure that Mississippi’s environmental conservation and economic growth priorities are achieved in concert with one another. He has worked for the agency previously in both a legal and in an engineering capacity, and his experience has prepared him well to take on this leadership position.”
Rikard and his law firm have represented a number of entities before the Department of Environmental Quality, including Hercules Inc. That company and its parent, Ashland Inc., are being sued by the city of Hattiesburg, claiming groundwater contamination from a closed Hercules factory may leach into the city’s water supply. Many anticipate that Rikard’s expertise will make him an exceptional executive director of Mississippi’s Department of Environmental Quality.