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Question of the Week: What’s the most important environmental issue in your local community?

2009 April 13

Each week we ask a question related to the environment. Please let us know your thoughts as comments. Feel free to respond to earlier comments or post new ideas. Previous questions.

Different things can affect the local environment where we live, such as air pollution, abandoned waste sites, or asbestos problems. But (thankfully!) not everyone is affected by everything at once.

What’s the most important environmental issue in your local community?

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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55 Responses leave one →
  1. Naturalglo permalink
    April 13, 2009

    Gas blowers noise andpollution making walking down streets or eve sitting in a house with open windows impossible from spring through fall. Help!

  2. Ayman permalink
    April 13, 2009

    the most important environmental issue in my co
    “we have no environmental issue “

  3. Ann permalink
    April 13, 2009

    Injection wells. I do not want MY WATER on MY PROPERTY contamimated by someone who wants a waste well on THEIR PROPERTY to put the health of me or my husband and two children at risk, what so ever!!!

  4. Bhumstone permalink
    April 13, 2009

    Sprawl, sprawl, sprawl

  5. Jane permalink
    April 13, 2009

    SPRAWL….loss of farmland and open spaces, demise of downtowns and villages, ie…sprawl, sprawl, sprawl……

  6. Madison permalink
    April 13, 2009

    In Ohio, landowners and farmers are destroying entire tree-lines along creekbeds at an alarming rate. The the past few weeks, in a 3-county area I have seen miles and miles of thick tree-lines bulldozed down, piled up and burned in a matter of a couple days time. With such complete destruction, there will be no shade for the creek water. The water is going to heat up depleting the oxygen. The runoff will ruin the water quality and the fish are going to be impacted. Not to mention the devestation of habitat for the wild turkey, deer, fox, pheasant, etc that follow those tree-lines. I have contacted the EPA and was told that farmers get defensive about anyone trying to regulate what they do with their property. My feelings are why don’t they have to submit a “plan” to be approved so that they can accomplish their goals without having to completely devestate the natural environment that affects everyone on down stream also. Its one thing to clear out a few trees to improve water flow, etc, but to totally destroy so many trees seems extreme.

  7. Mulu permalink
    April 13, 2009

    The most pressing problem in our community is air pollution due to motor cars and noise truble.

  8. Nan Odenthal permalink
    April 13, 2009

    The most pressing problem in Phoenixville is the amount of electricity and fuel needed to run the Phoenixville Area School District. Much can be done to save the environment through retrofits, boiler replacement, new windows and roofs, and etc. Assistance through the stimulus package could go a long way toward helping to conserve energy and reduce dependence on fossil fuels.

  9. Annie permalink
    April 13, 2009

    The fire hazard from out of control non-native Eucalyptus trees and Scotch Broom.

    Noise pollution from two stroke engine weed whackers

    Harmful pesticides and fertilizers which contaminate ground water and the San Francisco Bay

  10. April 13, 2009

    The most pressing problem in my area is traffic congestion. But one of my prime concerns is that we are over-reaching on the “greenhouse gas” issue. I’m all in favor of being environmentally responsible; but I think we’re spending a LOT of money on an issue that really does not exist.

  11. Petra permalink
    April 13, 2009

    I belive the biggest problem in our society now is the water and air pollution because it causes a lot of the other problems we are going through. For example hte air pollution is causing global warming and the water pollution is causing diseases. The water pollution is causing diseases bacause people in poor countries are poor and cant pay for clean water so they rely on their rivers. Then they get sick from those rivers and get a disease that was in the river. People dont think these problems are important since there’s so little of it in some parts of the world but we should be taking it more seriously. It’s funny how people think that global warming is so huge but then they disregard the factors that are causing pollution all over the world. I know this is long but i had to jot down most of my ideas…. :)

  12. John Cockerill permalink
    April 13, 2009

    Most homes and buildings are wasting energy and adding to air polution with the waste fuel burt gases going up the chimney. The use of better boiler control and HVAC control technologies will help to reduce these two environmental hazards very quickly. They apy for them selves and will stretch fuel supplies. Reduced exhaust gases from buildings will reeduce addition to the greenhouse gases. No one seems to care. Very few care to know.

  13. daniel molano permalink
    April 13, 2009

    well my community is small but the traffic is outgrowing the city so I think that is the main concern..I live halfway between LA and SF and a lot of those people are moving to here and its getting congested and it hasnt been addressed yet!

  14. Jimmy McCurry permalink
    April 13, 2009

    The biggest problem in my area of the State of Texas is unmanaged CRP grass. These grasses grow to be up to 36 inches or more in height and in our semi-arid climate they become hazzardous to our citizens because of wildfires. Often we have low humidity with winds approaching 50 mph and extinguishing these fires become almost impossible. We had one fire last year that burned 18,000 acres and with it we lost deer, quail, pheasant and many other animals. We were fortunate not to have lost any human lives.

    Last year the Soil and Water Conservation Districts in our 41 county area of Texas lobbied and got permission to do managed grazing. This grazing would take the grasses down to a safe height and still provide shelter and habitat for wildlife. We love our wildlife in Texas. The National Wildlife Federation filed suit and got a restraining order against us so that the managed grazing would not be allowed. They did this through a judge on the west coast that does not know anything about West Texas and it’s climate or wildlife.

    The fires still burn and the wildlife perish because of people that do not know what they are doing. The good news is that my CRP contract expires soon and I will do what is needed to protect my wildlife and grassland. The government does not always know what is best for us!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Former Lamb County Commissioner
    Jimmy McCurry
    God Bless Texas

  15. Jimmy McCurry permalink
    April 13, 2009

    I need help. There is a scientist in my area that has said that one volcano eruption puts more greenhouse gasses in the air than all of mankind since the invention of the wheel. Someone please send facts so that I can stop this mis-information that he is putting out to the public. I sent a letter to Senator Pelosi but she has not returned any information to me. Does anyone know how to get in touch with Al Gore?


  16. Anirban Ghosh permalink
    April 14, 2009

    acccording to me ‘enviormental issues’ are not localised coz these issues respect no boundry marked by human beings.

    therefore we as humans must forget our diffrences and fight whatever challanges mother earth

  17. Homura permalink
    April 14, 2009

    uhm,my local community is not so polluted.Because my country is still a poor one:(.
    But,people are making it become worse.Traffic jams,plastic,trash are exhausted everyday which aren’t solved.That’s so bad.I hope Mr Nguyen Minh Triet,our president will make this difficult problem better.:)

  18. James Kantor permalink
    April 14, 2009

    I live in Raleigh, North Carolina, the capital of North Carolina. This past your we grew at 4.3%, that is down from 4.7% due to the recession. At 4.3% growth we will double in size in 17 years. So I we land use, water, clean power production, and transportation as all important factor for smart growth for this booming area.

  19. Gitchigumi permalink
    April 14, 2009

    The Kennecott Minerals Company wishes to put a metallic sulfide mine under the Salmon Trout River on Michigan’s Yellow Dog Plains in the Upper Peninsula. Though the company has promised us jobs, one very attractive promise for the state, the real consequences of metallic sulfide mining are so numerous and irrevocable that we can not allow this to occur.

    There has never been a metallic sulfide mine that has failed to pollute its watershed. The byproduct of this type of mining is acid mine drainage which leaches out and disperses heavy metals into lakes and streams. Heavy metals are dangerous to health, wildlife, and the environment.

    Coaster Brook Trout fish native to the area use the Salmon Trout River to spawn. In fact, the river is the LAST in the United States in which these rare fish breed. If the mine is allowed to be constructed, many factors will cause the destruction of the Coasters’ native habitat. Mine subsistence, stream flow velocity, river temperature, and of course, acid mine drainage, are just some of the consequences of the mine that will threaten the fish, already in danger of disappearing.

    Please, don’t allow one of the last natural, beautiful and sacred lands in Michigan be destroyed by industry.

  20. Yipes permalink
    April 14, 2009

    This is the scariest enviuronmental issue of all – complacency.

  21. Sara Frazier permalink
    April 14, 2009

    I agree with you, Madison, that this is horrible! What ever happened to the concept of freedom to act as long as your actions don’t cause harm to others? This seems quite harmful. Near my home in East Tennessee, one of the most bio diverse regions of the country, the coal industry is trying to pass a bill in our state legislature to change the very definition of a stream so that they may continue to dump their waste and poison the water.

  22. Stacy permalink
    April 14, 2009

    Emissions of CO2 by human activities, including fossil fuel burning, cement production, and gas flaring, amount to about 27 billion tonnes per year (30 billion tons) [ ( Marland, et al., 2006) – The reference gives the amount of released carbon (C), rather than CO2, through 2003.]. Human activities release more than 130 times the amount of CO2 emitted by volcanoes–the equivalent of more than 8,000 additional volcanoes like Kilauea (Kilauea emits about 3.3 million tonnes/year)! (Gerlach et. al., 2002)

    Source: USGS (, click on the effects tab in the navigation bar at the top)

  23. Stacy, EPA permalink
    April 14, 2009


    Emissions of CO2 by human activities, including fossil fuel burning, cement production, and gas flaring, amount to about 27 billion tonnes per year (30 billion tons) [ ( Marland, et al., 2006) – The reference gives the amount of released carbon (C), rather than CO2, through 2003.]. Human activities release more than 130 times the amount of CO2 emitted by volcanoes–the equivalent of more than 8,000 additional volcanoes like Kilauea (Kilauea emits about 3.3 million tonnes/year)! (Gerlach et. al., 2002)

    Source: USGS (, click on the effects tab in the navigation bar at the top)

  24. Bonnie Aylor permalink
    April 14, 2009

    In my community, Hudson Fl, we need to address the waterbody on hudson beach where the boats come in and out and restaurants have planted themselves along the shore. These two activities alone create enough pollution that residents are always restricted from swimming in the water due to unhealthy conditions. Imagine, if we can’t swim in the water, what’s it like for the species that have to live and thrive in that same water?

    To add to those two issues is a vast spance of canals with residents homes living along the edges that feed right into that same waterbody. These homes probably produce enough pollution, without taking or being educated on the precautions necessary to keep it clean, and help contribute to the low quality of the water.

  25. Sharon permalink
    April 14, 2009

    Our most important concern is trying to keep our rural, equestrian character. Los Angeles loves to overbuild. There is NO concern for keeping anything old even if it is historic. Density of building and increase if motor traffic is another problem. Open spaces are being closed up with all sorts of construction, ever building on every square inch. It is New York on a horizontal spread.

  26. Druz permalink
    April 14, 2009

    Water…and the efforts by irresponsible politicians in Tallahassee (the state capitol) to sabotage our supply. They do this by proposing legislation to dismantle or handcuff our water agencies, and strip sustainablity efforts by our growth management agencies. Their motivation? Personal gain…aka…politics as usual.

  27. Village Green Man permalink
    April 14, 2009

    Water. not sure that most agree with me for the most part of the year… when the water restrictions hit, everyone focuses on waster conservation.

    Water is a resource that must be better controlled and valued. We will run out eventually and unlike oil, we actually NEED it to survive. There is no reason to use potable water for irrigation. Anywhere. Fix the leak, collect “waste” water from rain or even condensing AC units.
    The knowledge is out there. We need to focus on this resource. NOW.

  28. arthur permalink
    November 30, -0001

    Dog Poop! Dog owners in this state think nothing emptying their dogs in your yard, public walks, etc. And of course they do not clean up the poop.

    Second biggest problem is the illegal aliens who live 30 people in a two bedroom house and urinate outside, leave garbage, litter, broken cars which they drive illegally, etc.

  29. Jack permalink
    April 14, 2009

    automobile exhaust

  30. Tarron permalink
    April 14, 2009

    The largest problem in my community and — I believe — nationally, is the lack to transparent enviornmental information that is necessary to assess and invest in change.

    Specifically, commercial and residential utility information (energy use, water use, waste/recycling quantities, etc.) should be public information available on a Google Earth-type platform to promote personal, public, and private conservation decisions and investments.

    It makes no sense for this type of information to be private given the urgency of public climate crisis. This could also cut down on utility scams and misbilling!

  31. Ann permalink
    April 15, 2009

    So this is the Offical blog of the EPA. Will some one tell me how to stop a class II injection well from being built in my community. I have gone to an informative meeting and that was of no help. No risks were talked about or explained. I feel as if I have no rights. I also feel as though the EPA only told basic facts to make it seem as though an injection well is really no big deal. There was no explanation of a well leak or the consequences to the community. Also, there was no talk of what exactly “brine” water is. Most people think its just salt water. Could be true, but during the fracking process there are toxins added to this water they use. I thought this was the Environment Protection Agency? I don’t feel protected from what will become of the environment in my area after these injection wells are built.

  32. Marty permalink
    April 15, 2009

    Something as basic as recycling!
    Oh yes, we have several recycling businesses in the city, but only a small fraction of residents/businesses use it.
    Our city needs to be more “recycling friendly”.

  33. Jim Adcock permalink
    April 15, 2009

    Our most important issue is global warming and the farcical local efforts to create a WCI “Cap and Trade” system where the utility companies are trying to keep the cost of carbon to less than one half of one cent per kilowatt hour. That’s not even a slap on the wrist, its more like a tickle behind the ear with a feather! Meanwhile the mountain snow we rely on for winter sports and summer irrigation is rapidly going the way of the Dodo. According to local economic analysis our environment is worth about $1,000,000 per citizen of our region, and we are destroying it in 50 years — that’s $20,000 in economic loss per year per citizen. Getting started on a year “Cap and Trade” system would cost $0.50 per citizen per year to reduce emissions the first one percent. That’s a benefits/cost ration of 40,000 to one — but can our politicians get it done? Can they even consider the issue in a rational manner? — Nope!

  34. Janet permalink
    April 15, 2009

    I think all towns should start busing the kids like they use to do.
    We were on track years ago and just went in reverse. Just think of all the cars x’s the kids in all the schools in all the towns running back and forth at least twice a day 5 times a week. Forget about car pooling…. Have hybrid electric buses that would be safer for pollution.
    Just remember how quiet the roads get when school is out in the summer months. This is a no brainer but the towns actually screwed this one up years ago. Instead of improving the system they made it worse by eliminating it. Doesn’t anyone think anymore??????? People should be using public transportation as much as possible..right???? The health costs that this would save alone would compensate for the states contribution to transportation costs.

  35. Janet permalink
    April 15, 2009

    You say thankfully we are not effected by all environmental hazards at once. How do you actually know this to be true?????

    When you go to the hospitals they do not record possible causes or even survey or report what you tell them. Nothing is done at the very initial onset of someone’s first visit. They just treat you as if you were an object and service and remove you. They can’t be bothered. It’s not their job…. Open your eyes and things have to be implemented so that when people are first showing signs of evironmental hazards they can be addressed properly.

  36. Mary permalink
    April 16, 2009

    Gas blowers noise and pollution making walking down streets or even sitting in a house with open windows impossible from spring through fall

  37. Gretchen permalink
    April 16, 2009

    I agree with Madison to an extent, but think Sara is way off base that example as a comparison. I do agree with her view on the coal industry, but feel that comparisons like this amplify an already warped perception of farming. I am not a farmer, but do live in a farming community. The average American farmer is not a big corporate giant, they are family run operations that farm less than 1,000 acres and much of the land they operate is cash rented from non farming land owners. The USDA posts a detailed census of farming in every state which shows that the majority of farmers participate in government programs. This participation requires they be in compliance with wetland and highly erodible regulations on every single acre. They are required to have an approved ‘plan’ through the Natural Resource Conservation Service. Since almost 80% of our nations farmers that participate would not be able to sustain their operation without these programs, conservation plans are being used much more than apparent. Unfortunately farming is in a constant squeeze, land is constantly lost to urban sprawl, environmental concerns hinder chemical use (rightly so), weather and other environmental factors cause lower yields, and fluctuating markets along with a very skewed perception of the farming industry have dramatically impacted the sustainability of farming in general. I’m not saying your wrong Madison, because I agree clear cutting is not the answer. I do feel like there may be a bigger picture than is apparent on the surface. The EPA is not generally involved in the average farming community until a serious chemical or bio-product endangers the environment. You may want to start with your local Farm Bureau Board members. Most farmers welcome the opportunity to promote community support and mutual understanding. They want and need your support because the future of agriculture is more precarious than people think. Agriculture is the most important industry in the world, it can not continue to be ignored and misrepresented without serious consequences to civilization as we know it. Farmers are a dying breed. Our nations youth are seeing that it’s hard work with little to no profit, decreasing community support, and a constant struggle just to survive. The average farmer knows that a stable healthy environment is vital to his operation and does everything he can to preserve it. Unfortunately this is not always the case with the rapidly growing corporate farms, however unless communities are willing to, listen, learn and work together, the environmental concerns you are raising are only going to continue to escalate.

  38. Mike Schoenecker permalink
    April 16, 2009

    I think the biggest issue is people themselves. Everyone thinks they have the solution to the problem and all comon sence has been abandoned. It seems to me that the person who has the most wacked out , unrealistic , completely impossible ideas are the ones that are given attention. I can not help but to think sometimes that this whole thing is nothing but one big cash cow. Just look at the money that is being spent on things that we don’t even know exist. Let say something like carbon credits , why should Al Gore make a cent off this let alone millions? When a little education would pay off so much more. What I am saying is the price is killing the effort. Instead of mandating items on people then making them pay for it ontop of that. The average person would do so much more good if they had a little direction and a kick in the pants. I don,t think money can fix the problem but I do think people can. So instead of trying to scare them green I say lets stir them clean.

  39. Frank permalink
    April 16, 2009

    I would say sprawl that promotes an auto-based economy and discourages community and casual human interaction and, paradoxically, a lack of common open space integrated more effectively to encourage walking and biking within the community.

  40. Marie Gachelin permalink
    April 17, 2009

    There are too many cars on the road. But to undermine the importance of owning a car, however, driving personal vehicles should be left for absolute necessities.
    We complaint about being energy efficient while too many of us take our cars on the road rather than utilize public transportation. I’m sure many of us drive because we have to pay to use public transportation, if it did not cost us, many more of us would hop in a bus rather than drive.
    One of the steps that we need to consider in terms of energy efficient is to make public transportation free. It will help the environment as much as it will help our bodies.
    Make public transportation free, I’m almost positive that doing so, will help the environment as much as it will help us lose a bit of weight and stay thin.

  41. T.R. permalink
    April 17, 2009

    Illegals. It makes about as much sense as you people do…

    So if New Mexico once had ice and we (being humans) didn’t cause it to recede, what did? Glacier National park is no different than any other place that once had ice on this planet. Unless you intend to control water vapour, which is also comical, hiding taxes under the guise of “global climate change” is like telling a fat person they are just “big boned”…

    So if wind can produce 15%, then I guess we all need solar on our homes, sounds great, except
    1. It is cost prohibitive. Give a $3 per watt federal tax break and we’ll talk about it.
    2. What will you do with all of this doped amorphous silicon since you can’t just throw it in a landfill…

  42. Anonymous permalink
    April 17, 2009

    BRAC is the biggest problem where I live. No more cotton farms or woodland areas because people need McMansions to live in and malls to shop in. Thanks to BRAC in Huntsville, they are expecting thousands of people to flood into an area already polluted. Now there are wall to wall houses and bumper to bumper traffic from the Tennessee line all the way in to Huntsville.

  43. Ramona permalink
    April 18, 2009

    The biggest problem where I live is whether the Kansas legislature
    will allow two new coal powered plants to be built. The Gov. has
    vetoed the bill but they are now trying to override her veto. I’m
    sure this will happen unless the Congress or EPA step in soon.
    Most Kansans live in the dark ages when it comes to
    environmental issues. They stick their heads in the sand rather
    than facing reality.

  44. CAPearl permalink
    April 18, 2009

    The biggest environmental problem we face is Homelessness. The homeless leave their trash everywhere! They use the street and the bushes as a bathroom. They drink and leave their bottles in the gutters. I’ve seen the problem increase 10 fold over the last year. I know people are hurting because of the economy but for me, we need to find a permanent solution to this problem – both for the economy and for them.

  45. Johnny Bates permalink
    April 18, 2009

    Our biggest environmental is EPA declaring CO2 a pollutant and ignoring the real pollutants like carbon monoxide and mercury.

  46. julie permalink
    April 18, 2009

    I think the biggest issue in my community right now is the waste management system. We have recycling and yard waste but we all pay the same. I see so much ignorance coming from people that look educated, who have overflowing trash bins (the bins are HUGE), unfolded, uncut cardboard boxes, and trash all over. I have begged the village to look into using PAYT (Pay as you throw), but apparently there is too much money into dumping garbage right now, and charging a flat rate that benefits those who are wasteful.

  47. Becky permalink
    April 18, 2009

    The most pressing concern in my community, Tulsa, OK, is air quality. Coal producing plants in a nearby city are the primary cause. Also, Tulsa, is second on the list of high allergy cities. Many people are suffering from breathing problems.

  48. courtney permalink
    April 19, 2009

    Having places readily available at schools to recyle!

  49. Richard permalink
    April 20, 2009

    The most pressing issue of late is the EPA’s insane effort to regulate carbon dioxide, a trace gas essential for life on the planet. Based on proved inaccurate climate models, the government seeks to regulate and limit the stuff of life. When will the EPA wake up and call off this unprecedented power grab?

  50. Frank permalink
    April 20, 2009

    Don’t panic, Richard, no one is making a power grab. It was the Supreme Court – under Bush, let’s not forget – who decided that CO2 can be regulated under the Clean Air Act. The Bush people decided to ignore the Court requirement… doesn’t THAT bother you?

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