Edgar O. Morris grew up near Ybor City in Tampa, Florida. After receiving his bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the University of Florida in 1973, Morris started working at a phosphate processing plant in Gibsonton, Florida. Morris spent over 30 years in the phosphate industry, working his way up from Lab Technician to Vice President of Environmental, Health, Safety and Security Programs with the Mosaic Company/Cargill Inc. During this time, Morris also earned a MBA from the University of South Florida. Since 1987, he has be appointed by the Governor of Florida to the State of Florida Emergency and Response Committee and has chaired many industry environmental and safety committees both nationally and internationally. Currently, Morris maintains his own environmental, health, and safety consulting practice and provides coaching of corporate and frontline leaders.
During this interview, Morris recounts the genesis of his interest in environmental science and provides an historical overview of the phosphate industry in Florida. Morris talks about positive aspects of the phosphate industry, including its role in providing nutrient-rich fertilizer for food production. He also discusses his role in developing strategic plans with risk protective policies and procedures to assure safe operations. He discusses environmental issues related to phosphate processing and how the phosphate industry responded to legislation such as the Clean Air Act by creating new technologies to reduce air emissions and nitrogen in the environment. Morris also shares his thoughts on the importance of community engagement, ecosystem restoration, and land stewardship.