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America’s Heartland Depends on Clean Water

By Mark Hague

The Heartland thrives on clean water, a resource we must both conserve and protect. Agricultural interests, public health officials, recreational small businesses, and all the rest of us rely on clean water for our lives and livelihoods. While EPA oversees the protection of water quality under the Clean Water Act passed in 1972, every Heartlander understands its value to our daily lives.

Mark Hague

Mark Hague

During the past 43 years, EPA, the states, and local partners have worked tirelessly to clean up once polluted rivers and streams. While we’ve come a long way and dealt with the biggest issues, EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have worked together to solve what remains through a new Clean Water Rule.

This new rule will help us further ensure clean waters are available to everyone here in the Heartland and downstream. The rule more clearly protects the streams and wetlands that form the foundation of our nation’s water resources.

In developing the rule, we held more than 400 meetings with stakeholders across the country and reviewed more than one million public comments.

One of our most important challenges is protecting those smaller tributaries and wetlands that are a part of the vast interconnected system of some of our big rivers, like the Missouri and Mississippi. Our small waters are often out of sight, yet still serve an integral role in ensuring clean water for all Americans and our environment.

We rely on these smaller wetlands to provide uptake of nutrients, moderate flow in times of flooding, and serve as important habitat for species that spawn or rely on larger bodies of water, like the Missouri River.

Agriculture relies on clean water for livestock, crops, and irrigation. With the Clean Water Rule, EPA provides greater clarity and certainty to farmers and does not add economic burden on agriculture.

There is no doubt our water quality has improved. As a community and an agency, we must continue to protect both large and small tributaries. Clean water is a powerful economic driver affecting manufacturing, farming, tourism, recreation, and energy production. In fact, people who fish, hunt, and watch wildlife as a hobby spent $144.7 billion in 2011. That’s equal to one percent of the gross domestic product. The fact is, we rely on the flow of clean water to provide for this economic engine.

Finally, we all rely on the healthy ecosystems in these upstream waters to provide us with quiet, natural places to fish, boat, swim, and enjoy the outdoors. Hunters and anglers enjoy pristine places, and fishing rod makers and boat builders enjoy more business. And, of course, when drinking water is cleaner, people are healthier. We all win!

The Clean Water Rule will be effective 60 days after publication in the Federal Register. Learn more at www.epa.gov/cleanwaterrule.

About the Author: Mark Hague serves as the Acting EPA Region 7 Administrator. He is responsible for overseeing the overall operations within the region and the implementation of federal environmental rules and regulations, and serves as a liaison with the public, elected officials, organizations, and others. Mark has 35 years of experience with EPA.

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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Invasive Species Alert: Zebras on the Loose!

By Angela Sena

I don’t mean the four-legged variety, but zebra mussels! They are an invasive mollusk species (Dreissena polymorpha) that have been found in many lakes and rivers across the Heartland. Zebra mussels have been discovered in scattered locations along the Missouri River, Lake Lotawana, Smithville Lake, Lake of the Ozarks in the Osage River, Bull Shoals Lake, and Lake Taneycomo in the White River, just to name a few. For those who are water recreationists – boaters, anglers, water skiers, sailors or canoeists – we all need to keep our eyes open for this species and help prevent their spread since there is no known way to stop them once they get a foothold.

Zebra mussels (Dreissena polymorpha)

Zebra mussels (Dreissena polymorpha)

Zebra mussels are a group of freshwater mussels with triangular shells and dark bands with prominent ridges. A concavity (or hollow) about midway allows the animal to secrete byssal threads, which allow it to attach to almost any solid surface. They often clump together, and adults are generally ¼ to 1 inch in length. Zebra mussels are native to the Caspian Sea region of Asia, and were accidentally introduced to North America from ballast water of an international ship. They have tremendous reproductive capabilities: a female zebra mussel can produce more than a million eggs during spawning season. The eggs hatch into a larval form (veligers), which are not visible to the human eye, making their detection and eradication difficult. At three weeks, the sand grain-sized larvae start to settle and attach, and feel like sandpaper on solid surfaces.

This invasive species can hitchhike by attaching to boat, canoe and watercraft hulls, lower units and propellers, axles, engine drive units, trolling motors, hitches, and anchor chains. They can also survive in boat bilge water, livewells, bait buckets, and engine cooling water systems. Aside from being an inconvenience for your water craft equipment, they negatively impact the economy by clogging power plant intakes and industrial and public drinking water intakes, and damaging boat hulls and motors. Zebra mussels also harm native ecosystems, and decimate native freshwater mussels and other aquatic animals.

If you enjoy spending your summers on a lake, just like my family, then we all need to do our part. Water recreationalists can help by preventing the spread of the species with a few simple steps:

  • Clean – Remove all plants, animals and mud, and thoroughly wash all equipment with hot water spray (104 degrees), especially in small crevices or hidden areas. Most car washes will suffice. If you can’t wash at that temperature, a 10-percent solution of bleach will do.
  • Drain – Eliminate all water before leaving the lake, including livewells and transom
  • Dry – Allow sufficient time for drying between water events – at least 48 hours.
  • Dispose – Dispose of unused bait in a trash receptacle.
  • Report – Report any sitings of these species. The U.S. Geological Survey maintains a Nonindigenous Aquatic Species (NAS) website for zebra mussels that shows an up-to-date map of recorded occurrences, and includes a “Report a Sighting” link that allows you to submit a report if you find them.

USGS Where Are the Mussels

However, if you do spot a mussel when you’re out enjoying a lake or stream, don’t worry. Not all mussels are unwelcome. In fact, most mussels here in the Heartland are a good thing. Check out these previous Big Blue Thread blogs by EPA’s Craig Thompson: Mussels in the Blue, Mussels in the Blue II: Relative Abundance of Species in the Blue, and Mussels in the Blue III: Water Quality and Threats.

 

Angela Sena serves as an Environmental Protection Specialist with the Water, Wetlands, and Pesticides Division at EPA Region 7. She has a degree in environmental science and management, and is a native New Mexican and avid outdoorswoman.

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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Recién publicada: Las principales 25 ciudades de EE.UU. con el mayor número de edificios ENERGY STAR

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¿Sabía que el uso de energía en edificios comerciales representa el 17 por ciento de las emisiones de gases de efecto invernadero, que generan el cambio climático, por un costo de más de $100 mil millones por año? Esto es significativo. Es por eso que la nueva Lista de las Principales 25 Ciudades ENERGY STAR de la EPA, que clasifica las ciudades por las que tienen el mayor número de edificios certificados ENERGY STAR, es tan importante.

Los edificios certificados ENERGY STAR son confirmados por tener un rendimiento mejor del 75 por ciento que edificios similares a nivel nacional. Usan un promedio de 35 por ciento menos de energía y son responsables por tener 35 emisiones menos que los edificios tradicionales. Muchos de los tipos de edificios comunes pueden ganarse la certificación ENERGY STAR, incluyendo edificios de oficinas, escuelas K-12, hoteles y tiendas al detal.
Las ciudades en la lista demuestran que cuando los dueños de las instalaciones y gerentes aplican las directrices ENERGY STAR de la EPA en los edificios donde todos trabajamos, compramos y aprendemos, ellos ahorran energía, ahorran dinero y reducen las emisiones de gases de efecto invernadero. Esta labor es vital porque en la mayoría de las ciudades, los edificios comerciales son la principal fuente de emisiones de carbono.
Desde el 1999, más de 25,000 edificios en todos los Estados Unidos se han ganado la certificación ENERGY STAR de la EPA y han ahorrado cerca de $3.4 mil millones en facturas de electricidad y servicios públicos, y han prevenido las emisiones de gases de efecto invernadero equivalentes a las emisiones del uso anual de electricidad de unas 2.4 millones de hogares.
¿Acaso su ciudad figura en la lista? De ser así, use la etiqueta #ENERGYSTAR y comparta la Lista de las Principales Ciudades ENERGY STAR de este año para que todos lo sepan.

 
Acerca de la autora: Jean Lupinacci es la directora interina de la División de Consorcios sobre Protección Climática en la Agencia de Protección Ambiental de EE.UU. Ella ha laborado en la EPA por 20 años y sus principales responsabilidades se centraban en el desarrollo y la gestión de programas voluntarios de eficiencia energética.

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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What Does a Tribal Liaison Do in Region 7?

By Heather Duncan, Region 7 Tribal Liaison

The relationship between a federal employee and a Tribal representative is based on the same tenets as any other: respect, trust, and lots of honest communication. A large collection of history, policy, and case law defines the relationship between the federal government and Tribal governments. Because each Tribe’s interests and concerns are unique, I have no typical days – and that’s one of my favorite things about my job.

Tribal flags logoSince November 2014, I’ve been serving in a temporary position filling a vacancy in our Region 7 Office of Tribal Affairs. As part of these duties, I serve as a liaison between EPA and five of the nine Tribal nations in our Region. I also negotiate and manage several financial agreements with our Tribal partners.

To an outsider looking in, my day may look calm, spent sitting in a meeting room or in front of a computer. Behind the scenes, most of my day as a liaison is spent translating. I translate the opportunities, needs, and requirements of the federal government into actionable goals and tasks for the Tribes to consider. Likewise, I work to understand and translate the needs and priorities of the Tribes to create better opportunities and policies at EPA.

Outside of my Agency work, I do not have a background or experience with Tribal governments or cultures. I grew up an Iowa farm girl in an agricultural community inherently skeptical of the federal government. Neighbors may disagree with one another but are quick to unite to improve their community’s resilience. At home, handshakes are binding agreements and individuals are judged by their honesty and ability to follow through on their commitments. Growing up in an agricultural community has been excellent training for my experiences in our Office of Tribal Affairs. In many ways, working with the Tribes feels like home.

In my role as a Tribal liaison, it’s important to recognize the cultural and economic influences in scientific conversations and to share those insights as EPA discusses new policies and programs.

I have about two months left in my temporary assignment. In those remaining days, my desire is to do the right thing – one day at a time.

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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It’s Time to Test Your Home for Radon

By Bob Dye

Football season is in full swing, leaves are starting to fall and furnaces will be heating our homes. With colder weather, people are spending more time indoors, sitting with their kids and friends, and watching their favorite college or professional teams on the tube. As people close up their house for winter to keep warm, it is an excellent time to test for radon.

U.S. EPA Radon PSA

U.S. EPA Radon PSA

Radon is a radioactive gas that comes from the decay of naturally occurring radium and uranium in the soil. It is the leading cause of lung cancer in non-smokers and children are more sensitive to radon exposure as their lungs develop. The EPA estimates that as many as 21,000 lung cancer deaths a year are caused by radon exposure. Radon is colorless, tasteless and odorless, so the only way to know if your home has a problem is to test for it.

The EPA and the US Surgeon General recommend testing all homes for radon and if the levels are high, take steps to lower them. You can get low cost test kits through the National Radon Program Services at Kansas State University at http://sosradon.org/test-kits or you can contact your state radon program to find you where you can get a test kit.

Take steps to protect your health and your children’s health by testing your home. Order a test kit today. Get more information at www.epa.gov/radon.

Bob Dye is a radiation & indoor air specialist in EPA Region 7’s Air and Waste Management Division.

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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Teach Kids the Triple R’s

By Toni Castro

Being young and feeling invincible can be hazardous to your health, or even deadly. There have been other asthma stories here on the Big Blue Thread, but I wanted to share my family’s crisis because it was a very close call that really made us think about our asthma plan. Hopefully, our story will help you or a loved one take heed and review your asthma plan, too. Remember the basics: review your asthma plan, refresh your medicines if needed, and remind yourself how serious asthma is.

Our daughter Shanice was diagnosed with asthma 18 years ago at the age of 3 and we’ve managed it pretty well without many incidents. Managing it consists of medication and close monitoring by an asthma/allergy specialist.

Asthma awareness!

Shanice lives with asthma everyday.

One evening last fall, we got a phone call from Shanice, who was away from home for the first time at college. She began by explaining that she had been hospitalized and was waiting for a ride back to her dorm room. My husband and I knew she’d been struggling with asthma symptoms brought on by a cold, so we were communicating with her regularly to check on her condition. Apparently, she had an asthma attack and still wasn’t feeling 100 percent but was ready to leave the emergency room. This was not her first attack but it was the first one away from home, so it was especially frightening to us because we felt helplessly far away.

Shanice’s breathing became increasingly harder as the day progressed and by evening, she was weak and lethargic. The medicine she typically uses when in the asthma danger zone was not effective. She was fortunate enough to have a good friend and dorm mate who insisted she go to the campus clinic. After seeing her blue lips, which indicated dangerously low oxygen levels, the clinic staff recommended that she be immediately transported to the hospital emergency room. At the hospital, Shanice was given oxygen, an IV (intravenous injection) for medicine, and a breathing treatment. After a few hours, she was finally stable enough to go back to her dorm.

Now that Shanice is on her own, we are hoping that she will remember to keep these critical things in mind, in addition to the Triple R’s:

  • Be aware of your triggers, environmental or otherwise.
  • Always take your medicines as directed, if prescribed.
  • Have emergency phone numbers readily available.

Statistics (American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology) show that in 2008, 48 percent of adults who were taught how to avoid triggers did not follow most of that advice. For young adults and parents of young adults with asthma, managing asthma is nothing new, but managing it without the guidance and monitoring by a parent or guardian may be. As your children become young adults, make the Triple R’s – review, refresh and remind – a mantra as part of their asthma plan. The mantra may someday save their life.

Learn more by visiting EPA’s Asthma Triggers website.

Toni Castro works in the Office of Public Affairs as a Visual Information Specialist. She has worked in Region 7 for just under 27 years and the last 8 in the Office of Public Affairs. She is married and has 3 daughters, 1 grandson and a 2 year old Yorkie. While an active family keeps her busy, she does enjoy reading, traveling, cooking and music.

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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Semana del Clima—Es el momento de tomar acción

Por Gina McCarthy

 

El año pasado, el presidente Obama presentó un Plan de Acción Climática para recortar la contaminación de carbono que fomenta el cambio climático, desarrollar una nación más resiliente, y liderar la lucha global climática. A medida que el mundo se reúne en Nueva York obligada por la necesidad urgente de tomar acción sobre el clima, me siento orgullosa de poder unirme al presidente Obama para reforzar nuestro compromiso.

 

Este pasado año trajo toneladas de progreso, incluyendo el propuesto Plan de Energía Limpia de EPA para limitar la contaminación de carbono de nuestra fuente principal—las centrales eléctricas.
Esta semana, estaremos comunicando un mensaje claro: una de las principales economías del mundo depende en un medio ambiente saludable y un clima seguro. La labor de la EPA consiste en proteger la salud pública. Mayores riesgos a la salud significan más costos para todos nosotros. Nosotros no tomamos acción pese a la economía, sino tomamos acción debido a ella.
Hoy, estaré hablando con líderes gubernamentales y organizaciones de salud de alrededor del mundo sobre cómo la acción climática ayuda a reducir los riesgos a la salud global. El martes, me reuniré con los principales ejecutivos de algunas de las empresas más grandes del mundo para agradecerles por la acción climática que ya están tomando y para discutir maneras en las cuales puedan hacer más. Y luego esta semana, hablaré con Recursos para el Futuro en la Capital Federal (Resources for the Future) para exponer cómo una economía fuerte depende de la acción climática.
Sabemos que el cambio climático sobrecarga los riesgos a nuestra salud y a nuestra economía. El director de la Oficina de Gerencia y Prespuesto Shaun Donavan habló la semana pasada sobre los costos de las condiciones extremas del tiempo, especialmente en las ciudades costeras de Estados Unidos, que se espera que asciendan a miles de millones de dólares. Y vamos a escuchar al Secretario del Tesoro Jack Lew luego hoy sobre los “Costos económicos del cambio climático” —y el precio elevado de la inacción para las empresas y contribuyentes estadounidenses.
Las buenas nuevas son que podemos trasformar nuestro reto climático en una oportunidad para desarrollar una economía baja en carbono que propulsará el crecimiento para décadas futuras.
Un ejemplo perfecto sobre la acción climática inteligente son los estándares de eficiencia de combustible de EPA para autos y cambiones. Estamos reduciendo la contaminación de carbono, ahorrando dinero en las gasolineras para las familias, y fomentando una industria automotriz resurgente que ha añadido 250,000 empleos desde el 2009. El número de autos que están siendo fabricados por trabajadores en Estados Unidos ha alcanzado su nivel más elevado en 12 años. Y no nos olvidemos que desde que el presidente Obama fue juramentado, EE.UU. usa tres veces más energía eólica y diez veces más energía solar, lo cual significa miles de empleos.
El Plan de Energía Limpia de EPA continúa esa tendencia. Ya hemos recibido una gran cantidad de insumo a nuestra propuesta, con más de 750,000 comentarios de grupos de salud, grupos industriales, grupos de fe, padres y muchos más.
Damos la bienvenida a todas las buenas ideas que podamos recibir y por eso hemos extendido el periodo de comentarios públicos hasta el 1ero de diciembre.
Es cierto que el cambio climático necesita una solución global. No podemos tomar acción por otras naciones, pero cuando los Estados Unidos de América toma la batuta, otras naciones seguirán su ejemplo. La acción para reducir la contaminación no disminuye nuestra ventaja competitiva, sino la fortalece. Si queremos hablar sobre el rendimiento de la inversión: a lo largo de las pasadas cuatro décadas, la EPA ha recortado la contaminación atmosférica por más del 70% mientras la economía se ha triplicado en tamaño.
En la actualidad, tenemos más autos, más gente, más empleos, más negocios y menos contaminación. Podemos—y tenemos—que tomar la delantera sobre el clima. Y al estar en Nueva York esta semana, rodeado de cientos de miles de ciudadanos que están haciendo un llamado a favor de la acción climática, es obvio de que el pueblo estadounidense está abrumadoramente de acuerdo. Cuando tomamos acción para afrontar el clima, estamos aprovechando una oportunidad para reorganizarnos y resurgir con nuevas tecnologías, nuevas industrias y nuevos empleos. Se lo debemos a nuestros hijos para dejarles un mundo más saludable, más seguro y rico de oportunidades para generaciones futuras.

 

 

Gina McCarthy es la administradora de la Agencia de Protección Ambiental de Estados Unidos. (EPA, por sus siglas en inglés)

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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Seeing the Whole Picture

By Malavika Sahai

huntersview

I was in my freshman year of college in the spring of 2013 when I took my introductory Environmental Policy and Planning class. Although my professor covered a wide range of topics that fit under the umbrella of U.S. environmental policy, one lesson really stood out for me: her overview of environmental justice considerations in policy enforcement. She told the powerful story of Bayview Hunters Point, a low-income community of color in southeast San Francisco that had been home to a former naval shipyard and other industries that had polluted the area, severely impacting the residents. Despite decades of cleanup and redevelopment efforts, their struggle continues. I became inspired and emotionally involved in wanting to help other communities like Bayview.

Untitled-1Growing up in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, I had witnessed instances of low-income and minority communities being plagued by pollution problems. I saw that for residents living in urban areas with aging infrastructure and minimal green space, the impacts seemed worse. I had considered myself a budding social justice advocate, but it was not until that day, that lesson, that I realized there was a vibrant, working movement to achieve justice in such communities.

After that lesson, I had an epiphany about what I wanted to do with my career. Suddenly, all my papers for my other environmental classes incorporated discussions about environmental justice. I spent my free time searching the internet to learn more about environmental justice and how and where people were impacted. I wanted to talk about these issues with anybody who would engage in the conversation. I didn’t want to stop learning more.

In my sophomore year, my interest in environmental justice led me to declare a Geography minor, so I could better understand the connection between social issues, place, and the environment. I want to learn more about the way that social geography impacts environmental decision-making in different places, to preserve local culture and adapt to be more equitable and sustainable. As I continue to learn, I keep challenging myself to learn more about the intersection of environmental justice and other related social issues, such as using ecofeminism as a framework toward global justice and planetary health.

malavika

Learning about environmental justice issues as a critical component in policymaking decisions has inspired me to pursue it professionally. I want to ensure that a clean environment and good public health are not mutually exclusive. Being an intern in EPA’s Office of Environmental Justice and collaborating with other environmental organizations as a part of my internship has broadened my understanding of the amount of work that’s already being done to address environmental justice issues across the nation, as well as what remains to be done. Learning about environmental justice has helped me realize that people have the power to make a change in the world and help one another. Learning about environmental justice in a classroom setting has helped me realize that environmental justice and environmental policy should be intertwined.

I am eternally grateful to my freshman environmental policy and planning professor for introducing environmental justice in the classroom, and my hope is that as time progresses, all environmental policy and planning programs in universities, and even high schools, teach their students about environmental policy and justice side by side.

About the Author: Malavika Sahai recently was a Summer intern at EPA’s Office of Environmental Justice. She is studying Environmental Policy and Planning and Geography at Virginia Tech, and plans to graduate in Spring 2016.

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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EPA In Your Community (Pedal Away!)

By Brendan Corazzin
Region 7’s EJ Grants Coordinator

While biking may be an excellent way to exercise, it can also serve as a viable and inexpensive form of transportation that has many environmental and health benefits. Joe Edgell tells us it is easier than you think. Let me tell you about one of EPA’s Environmental Justice Small Grant awardees and the work they are doing in St. Louis to address the inequitable distribution of biking infrastructure in the city.

Example of a shared traffic lane. This picture was taken in Arlington, Virginia. Image by Brendan Corazzin.

Example of a shared traffic lane. This picture was taken in Arlington, Virginia. Image by Brendan Corazzin.

Often times, transportation is an overlooked environmental justice issue. It is not uncommon for low-income households to lack access to a personal vehicle and many low-income urban neighborhoods have poor access to public transportation. Entire communities are cut off from valuable public services and amenities. Lack of transportation means a lack of access to fresh foods, a lack of access to medical facilities, and poor access to jobs. In St. Louis, Missouri, a small non-profit organization, Trailnet, is working to reverse this trend by promoting bicycling as a viable mode of transit.

St. Louis Rain Garden Stop

During a bike ride with Trailnet staff and project partners, we stopped at a rain garden at 14th and Clinton Street in the Old North Neighborhood of St. Louis. Image by Brendan Corazzin.

In 2013, Trailnet, Inc. was awarded an EJ Small Grant to work with low-income neighborhoods across St. Louis on bicycle planning and advocacy. Historically, planning activities related to bicycle infrastructure have left out low-income and minority communities. As a result, the existing infrastructure does not serve the needs of these communities. Through a series of educational activities, planning workshops, and community events, Trailnet will encourage bicycling as a mode of transportation and bring community members to the table so they can be involved in the planning process. This past May, I was in St. Louis to visit with Trailnet regarding their project. Rather than driving a car from Kansas City to St. Louis, I decided to use alternative modes of transportation starting with a bike ride from my home in midtown Kansas City to the train station downtown. After a 5 hour train ride, I arrived in St. Louis at the downtown train station and over the next two days I experienced St. Louis’ biking infrastructure first hand.

I will admit, my experience lead me to the conclusion that St. Louis and Kansas City (where I live) have pretty similar biking infrastructure…which is less than impressive. Don’t get me wrong, both cities have invested quite a bit in bicycle planning and both cities support bicycling, but they’re still early in the process. Getting around the downtown area, where most of my activities were, was fairly easy. There are a few dedicated bike lanes in downtown and few more “shared traffic lanes”. A shared lane is really just a regular traffic lane with a bicycle emblem painted on it, alerting drives to the possibility that there may be a cyclist in the lane. I also rode in west St. Louis and on the south side of town, where again there were a few dedicated bike lanes and some shared traffic lanes. In North St. Louis, however, travel was a bit more difficult because there are only shared traffic lanes.

Scheomehl Pots

“Schoemehl Pots” are frequently found at the intersections of neighborhood streets in St. Louis. The pots were originally installed to divert traffic from residential streets and could be reused to improve biking routes. Image by Brendan Corazzin.

North St. Louis is predominately African American and low-income. This is where one could witness the historical presence of environmental injustice in transportation planning. While other parts of town are accessible by bike lanes and downtown has its fantastic bicycle station, a public bicycle storage and maintenance facility, North St. Louis is left with only shared traffic lanes. This problem is compounded by the fact that beginner riders typically lack the skill and confidence to ride in traffic. As a result, you have a community where bicycling could serve as a viable form of personal transportation – taking people to work, the grocery store, school, or church – yet ridership remains low. Admittedly, there are many reasons for low ridership, but better infrastructure is an important part of increasing bike usage and our grant to Trailnet will help!

By working with residents, city staff, and elected officials, Trailnet hopes to break down the barriers that are preventing the community from utilizing bicycles as a cheap, efficient, effective and safe means of getting around St. Louis. By bringing community members to the table, Trailnet has been able to gather important information about community needs and wants. This input will inform transportation planning in St. Louis and help shape a future that supports bicycling by establishing safe, low stress routes that connect points of interest important to the community. Environmental Justice is all about supporting communities so that they can use their voice and knowledge to create positive changes and improve their environment. The Environmental Justice Small Grants Program has a long history of supporting communities in their fight to improve their environment. To learn more about environmental justice and EPA’s EJ grant programs, check out EPA’s website.

This map was used during a public meeting in North St. Louis. Residents were asked to identify points of interest, streets they bike or walk on, and streets that they would bike on if conditions were more inviting. Image by Brendan Corazzin.

This map was used during a public meeting in North St. Louis. Residents were asked to identify points of interest, streets they bike or walk on, and streets that they would bike on if conditions were more inviting. Image by Brendan Corazzin.

Brendan Corazzin works in the Environmental Justice Program at EPA’s Region 7 office. He serves as the regional EJ grants coordinator. He lives in Kansas City’s Volker neighborhood and prefers to leave his car at home. He is an avid supporter of alternative transportation including walking, biking, and riding to work in a vanpool.

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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¡Mujeres embarazadas, padres y todos deberían leer esto!

Por Jessica Orquina

 

Nunca había pensado mucho acerca del mercurio en el pescado. Me gustan los mariscos y quizás había escuchado algo acerca de algunas preocupaciones de salud, pero nunca le había prestado mucha atención. Sin embargo, cuando estaba embarazada empecé a leer toda la información que podía encontrar acerca de la salud y nutrición para mujeres embarazadas, incluyendo sobre el mercurio en el pescado.

Aprendí que el comer pescado alto en niveles de mercurio puede hacerle daño al bebé por nacer o al sistema nervioso de los niños pequeños. También aprendí acerca de qué peces tienen niveles más elevados o más bajos de mercurio para así poder enfocar mi régimen alimenticio en aquellos pescados que son más seguros para comer.

El otoño pasado, mi hijo nació y ahora estoy de regreso al trabajo. Me interesó aprender que la EPA ha estado trabajando con la FDA para recomendar nuevos consejos sobre el Pescado: Lo que las mujeres embarazadas y padres deben saber. Comparta sus ideas con nosotros y ajuste el regimen alimenticio de su familia conforme a la nueva información. Mientras el consumo de mercurio es de especial preocupación para las mujeres embarazadas y los niños pequeños, puede afectar la salud de todos.

Entonces, tome un breve momento de su tiempo y lea este documento. Yo lo hice.

Acerca de la autora: Jessica Orquina trabaja en la Oficina de Asuntos Externos y Educación Ambiental como la principal encargada de los medios sociales para la agencia. Antes de unirse a la EPA, sirvió como piloto militar y de aerolíneas comerciales. Ella vive, trabaja y escribe en Washington, DC.

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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