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Discussing the Discussion

2010 March 9

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.

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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4 Responses leave one →
  1. Al Bannet permalink
    March 9, 2010


    That’s all well and good, but I see a deliberate neglect of global consciousness pervading all of EPA activities, and a stubborn resistance to any such discussions. The motto is “Think globally and act locally” but it looks like people are afraid to think about any Worldwide environmental situations, like ocean dumping and proliferating landfills and the overcrowded airways and the loss of family farming and the destruction of wilderness by growing populations and their growing economies. People are addicted to economic growth imagine a “sustainable growth economy” even though planet Earth is slowly shrinking. The result of this myopia will be global ecocide unless people wake up and smell the garbage in time to reverse the growth syndrome and agree to live in peace and balance with the biosphere that supports them.

  2. Michael E. Bailey permalink
    March 13, 2010

    It is great to place an increased importance on improving public outreach it is something that should be done and is long overdo. But part of a sustainable development program must include the need for all families in all countries to have small, not large numbers of children. Maybe 2 children a family, maybe just 1 in some overly populated areas and countries. This kind of policy works best with broad public support. A major problem is religious dogma holds sway in a number of places and people are very easily influenced by fundamentalsim and preachersand priests. The fundamentalist christians and the Cathlic Church are stridently opposed to family planning, contraception, and choice. Even in a place like California, the religious right always has propositions on the ballot to eliminate choice, eliminate family planning. A sustainable population policy is needed but will require a fundamental shift in many peoples’ mindsets and will also depend on them having access to the scientific information just as easily as they now have access to religious dogma. Best wishes, Michael E. Bailey.

  3. David Lynch permalink
    March 31, 2010

    I couldn’t agree anymore and l might add the countries have to work together on this as it a waste of time if we can’t get a universal agreement from all countries that something needs to be done now and work together on solving and fixing the issue.

  4. Estetik permalink
    April 8, 2010

    There are a lot of ways to reduce carbon footprint but the hard thing is to put them into life. Most important ones are drive your car less, use bike instead, consider buying a hybrid car, use recycled paper, reuse items like attach, papers, folders, increase plant consumption, buy local progducts, in summary, obey green principles.

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