Discussing the Discussion

My job provides a lot of opportunities to meet with people face-to-face. I’ve met with environmental justice advocates in New Orleans, mayors affected by auto sector closures in the Midwest, and tribal representatives in Montana, just to name a few. It’s all part of Administrator Jackson’s directive to expand the conversation on environmentalism. But no matter how much I travel, no matter how many people I meet, it’s impossible for me to meet in person with everyone who wants to talk to me. That’s why I’m excited that technology is making it possible for anyone in the county to participate in the conversation about the environment.

My office held our second Video Town Hall two weeks ago, and I thoroughly enjoyed the discussion. The session covered two topics: reducing your carbon footprint through reducing, reusing, and recycling, and EPA’s recent decision to conduct an environmental justice analysis of the definition of the solid waste rule. We had an excellent conversation. We answered a question from a man in California who wanted to see us do more to promote energy-saving compact fluorescent light bulbs, and one from a Minnesota woman who wanted to build an environmentally-friendly house. A Brooklyn non-profit wanted to know how we balance our focus on environmental justice with preserving industrial jobs and the tax base in urban areas. These are just a few examples, and you can watch the whole session on our Video Town Hall page.

As was the case with our first Video Town Hall, we were able to answer every question we received on the topics we were discussing. That’s gratifying to me. Anyone who had an internet connection or a phone could ask me a question. That didn’t used to be possible, and I’m glad that technology is enabling people outside of Washington to speak directly with their government.

We plan to hold more Video Town Halls in the near future. Check our Video Town Hall page for future sessions.

About the author: Mathy Stanislaus is EPA’s Assistant Administrator for the Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response.
This blog is part of an ongoing series about the EPA’s efforts toward the Open Government Directive that lays out the Obama Administration’s commitment to Open Government and the principles of transparency, participation and collaboration.