Late one night I was flying home after a particularly grueling session helping to draft some proposed new state rules for groundwater protection. These new rules could make or break the industrial project that my company was hoping to get started. Jim Derouin was representing us in these negotiations that had been virtually stalemated for several weeks. I had not been optimistic going into this session. However, we finally reached a reasonable and scientifically achievable compromise that grew from a suggestion by Jim. I picked up the in-flight magazine, hoping to switch my thoughts to something more relaxing. As I turned the pages, I came across a quotation attributed to Calvin Coolidge: “Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence.” Since then, every time I think of Jim, that quotation pops into my mind. Jim Derouin is persistence personified.
Jim knows that dealing with scientific and technical experts requires that persistence must be more than just repetition of the same arguments. Moving toward a compromise between positions that seem to be irreconcilable requires that a mediator understand the science behind the positions taken by the interested parties. By this understanding, he may find a simple solution to a complex problem that had been overlooked by experts so caught up in scientific detail that they have lost sight of their principal objective. In all of my experience with Jim, he has insisted on having an adequate understanding of the science behind everyone’s arguments. More than once, that insistence on understanding has led to a workable compromise.Regulatory Affairs Manager, Mining Company