Administrator Jackson

Reminiscing….

By Jeffery Robichaud

A few weeks ago I blogged about our pending office move.  The day has finally come, and this will be my last in this office.  The movers are taking our items to our new home Thursday and Friday, and I will start to unpack next Tuesday, our first day in the new digs.  This is the view out my window last night, the shadows creeping across the almost empty parking lot.

I know I have taken this view for granted over the years, but as I gazed out of it for one of the last times I was struck by all I could see… how out this one window, I could literally see before me my work over the last ten years and our mission as an Agency.  Apologies to the Little River Band (feel free to hum along) but I couldn’t help myself but do a little reminiscing.

On the left hand side just above an overpass you can make out an orangish-reddish building, EPA Region 7’s Science and Technology Center.  This state of the art facility was one of the first LEED certified laboratories in the country, and it was built on a Brownfields site, allowing EPA to practice what it preaches by re-using  a blighted property.  It is here where samples from all around our Region and even the country are analyzed to provide the necessary information for us to make decisions.  It was dedicated 10 years ago and we are just as proud of it today.   Even with the move to the new building around 80 staff will still be located here in Kansas City, KS.

Towards the center of the photo you can make out the confluence of the Missouri and Kansas Rivers at a place called Kaw Point, a place where Lewis and Clark camped over 200 years ago and which holds tremendous significance to me as a history buff.  It is from that point where we launch Carp Buster II, our electrofishing boat which we use to collect fish from both the Kansas and Missouri Rivers as part of our Ambient Fish Tissue program, the longest running such program in the country.  The information that we and our partners in the four States collect provides the public with timely information about the safety of their water’s fish.   Administrator Jackson visited Kaw Point several years ago to kick off the Summer of Service Intitiative.

Kaw Point used to be a decrepit, derelict, outcropping but through the hard work of the many partners including the Unified Government of Wyandotte County and the Friends of Kaw Point, it was turned into a fantastic park just in time for the bicentennial of the Corps of Discovery.  The photograph below is of my first exposure to the point at  a clean-up I worked in the rain one Fall afternoon almost 10 years ago to the day (also featuring EPA’s Larry Shepard a fellow blogger and all around good guy).

Towards the top of the picture you can barely make out a candy striped stack of the Hawthorne Power Plant to the right of the new bridge.  As a Senior Advisor to our Regional Advisor ten years ago I remember working on an event where former EPA Administrator Christie Todd Whitman spoke about the plant which at the time was the cleanest coal fired power plant in the nation.  However just five years later, a horrendous fire darkened the sky above Kansas City, the result of a fire at a chemical plant nearby.  Many of us worked throughout the night collecting and analyzing the data from inside the plume to ensure that we could provide the public with accurate information about their health.

Finally, I need to comment on the big black silhouette that obscures a portion of my view out my window.  It is a bird, or at least a facsimile of a bird.  One of the nicer features of this building is the eastern facing facade is primarily glass, providing my view of the City built on the River.  However, it seems that birds have a tough time judging the windows and were smacking into them with some regularity.  Rather than just accept this rather macabre side effect, a group of folks including Holly (who is also contributor to this blog) decided that we might scare off the birds by use of these sillhouettes of birds of prey, and darned if they don’t actually work.

Next week the view will definitely change, and I will miss the big black splotch on my window.  What won’t change is the work that my colleagues perform everyday, their creativity, their pursuit of strong science and transparency, and their tireless effort to ensure that we work our hardest to protect the public health and the environment here in the Midwest.

About the Author: Jeffery Robichaud is a second generation EPA scientist who has worked for the Agency since 1998. He currently serves as Deputy Director of EPA Region 7′s Environmental Services Division.  He will miss his view of Kaw Point.

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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Investing in Our Communities and Creating Jobs

This post is cross-posted from The White House Blog

By Administrator Lisa P. Jackson

Ed. Note: Check out this slideshow of former abandoned waste sites that have been revitalized with EPA investments.

Every American wants their air and water to be clean and the land where they live, work, play and learn to be free of pollution. But President Obama knows that these cleaner, healthier communities are also better places to buy a home or start a business – boosting local economies and creating jobs often in areas where they’re needed most. That’s why this Administration is investing in clean, green, sustainable communities that will help us win the future.

Since EPA’s brownfields program began less than a decade ago, it has spurred almost 70,000 American jobs. To build on this record of success, I’m in Lansing, Michigan today where I’m announcing $76 million in clean-up grants that will be used for projects throughout the nation.
With the help of local workers, we’ll turn tainted factories, deserted gas stations, closed smelters and some of the more than 450,000 other abandoned or contaminated sites throughout America into vibrant residential and retail districts filled with opportunities for American workers.

I chose Lansing to make this announcement because of the progress they’ve seen thanks to EPA and local funding that has helped to revitalize a distressed community. In recent years, a troubled auto industry put many Lansing residents out of work, while leaving in its wake vacant and often contaminated lots. But the community rallied back, and with the help of a $2 million brownfields grant, they leveraged about $230 million in private investments. Today they’re receiving additional funding to continue expanding their success.

We’ll soon see stories like this one unfold throughout the nation with the help of the funding being awarded today. Like in Chicago, where 575 children will benefit from a new school being built in a disadvantaged neighborhood where a vacant industrial property now lies. Or like in Nassau County, New York, where a park, hotel, affordable housing, and restaurant and retail space will be built on top of unused waterfront property – creating more than 7,700 local jobs. Eight-hundred more jobs will be created in Milwaukee, where a modern business park will replace a contaminated site that’s threatening the health of locals. And in Springfield, Missouri, a clean-up grant will transform a former rail yard into parks and leverage $6 million in private investments.

In reinvigorating these abandoned and often polluted sites – and hundreds of others across our country – we’ll improve our health at the same time that we strengthen our economy. These cleaner, healthier and more prosperous communities will also be more resilient and sustainable for our future.

Find more information on EPA’s brownfields program.

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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Administrator Jackson: Dispatches from the Gulf Coast

Blog from Administrator Lisa P. Jackson at 7:17 p.m. Saturday, May 1.

Administrator Jackson thanks volunteers

Administrator Jackson thanks volunteers

Steel toe boots.

Fishermen, shrimpers and other men and women of the Gulf community turned out in droves. I met them at community centers, churches and city hall. They all had one question: how can I help?

The fishermen at Shell Beach said they’d do anything to head out and lay boom. They wanted to help right now. Their way of life was on the line. But, some said they hit a peculiar roadblock: their shoes. Yes. You read correctly.

Fishermen were told they could not take part in efforts to lay boom unless they wore steel toe boots. That is absurd.

These men and women have spent their lives on these waters. They know them better than anyone and don’t need anybody’s steel toe boots to sail them now. Especially when so much is at stake.

A simple phone call to BP fixed this problem. Footwear should absolutely not impede the thousands of Gulf Coast residents who want to save their way of life.

Workplace safety is terribly important. But it’s unacceptable to tell men and women, who know these seas like the back of their hands, that they can’t help lay boom because of their footwear.

This seems to be an easy fix. Other problems in this complex situation won’t be so simple. But it shows that a desire to put problem solving above process is critical as we address this environmental challenge of the highest order.

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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Administrator Jackson: Dispatches from the Gulf Coast

Blog from Administrator Lisa P. Jackson at 10:25 a.m. Friday, April 30.

Administrator Jackson and Secretary Salazar

Administrator Jackson and Secretary Salazar

Just finished our overflight. The extent of the spill is dramatic.

I’ve already heard good ideas to deal with landfall. As I said, we are assuming the worst case scenario. In the real world, booms break. So we have to listen to locals, shrimpers, sheriffs, oystermen, emergency managers and others who may have low tech ideas to protect our precious marshes.

I will spend the next days meeting with folks to bring ideas back. How about using hay or other material to protect sensitive oyster beds or shrimp nurseries? Can we create some buffers around our marshes? Good ideas that we will discuss with the on-scene coordinators as soon as we land.

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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