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A New Strategy for a Changing Arctic

By Bob Perciasepe, Acting Administrator

Day after day, the Arctic Region is getting warmer, and the environment is changing in clear and measurable ways. Scientists have observed declining sea ice during the summer, thinning Arctic sea ice throughout the year, and a decrease in land ice that supports vital infrastructure. These changes are already attracting additional shipping in and through the Arctic and greater interest in the region’s energy and mineral resources.

Today the White House announced the United States’ new National Strategy for the Arctic Region. In the past four years, we have become increasingly aware of the mounting challenges we face in this region and the responsibility our country has as an Arctic nation. If we want to ensure a secure and sustainable Arctic, the federal government and our partners across the region must align our efforts. The Strategy highlights the importance of continued federal cooperation with the State of Alaska and Alaska Natives, which is particularly important for emergency preparedness and response. It also endorses new and innovative partnerships to address emerging challenges.

EPA already works with its Arctic neighbors to address climate and traditional pollutants, including our recent efforts to address black carbon. We’ve seen how working with international partners – including through the Arctic Council — allows us to combine our resources and knowledge so we can better protect American communities from emissions of mercury and other harmful toxins, as well as from the effects of climate pollutants. As part of the new Arctic Strategy, EPA will continue to monitor and take action as necessary to reduce emissions that impact the region.

Working closely with Alaska Natives is another key component of the Arctic Strategy. Not only are local residents essential sources of information when it comes to the region and its challenges, but they are also important stewards of the Arctic environment.

It’s not only about enhancing our partnerships; science has a major role to play in this effort, too. Since I became deputy administrator of EPA back in 2009, one of my most important goals has been ensuring that EPA makes decisions firmly rooted in the best available science. This principle is a cornerstone of the Arctic Strategy we are unveiling. Given the extreme conditions and vulnerabilities that this region has always presented, improving our scientific understanding of the region will allow the U.S. to design and implement better policies for a rapidly changing Arctic.

We don’t have all of the solutions just yet, but the new National Strategy for the Arctic Region provides a framework to address the region’s challenges as they evolve. The strategy we have developed supports EPA’s ongoing work in the Arctic and helps to prioritize our efforts going forward. I am proud of EPA’s role in developing this important framework, and I look forward to working with our many partners to implement it in the time ahead.

About the author: Bob Perciasepe is acting administrator of the U.S. 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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Green De-icing Techniques

About the author: Lina Younes has been working for EPA since 2002 and chairs EPA’s Multilingual Communications Task Force. Prior to joining EPA, she was the Washington bureau chief for two Puerto Rican newspapers and she has worked for several government agencies.

If you live along the Eastern states, you probably have been digging out from the snow this week. I must confess that it was nice to play in the powder-like snow again. We hadn’t had a similar snowstorm in our area for years. I actually spent several hours sledding down the hill in our back yard with my youngest daughter. However, all outdoor winter pastimes are not created equal. One of the lesser enjoyable winter activities is dealing with the icy sidewalks and roadways. If you’re not careful, you can do more harm than good to the environment as well.

Although we should avoid a slippery sidewalk and entrance to our home, we shouldn’t be too hasty in rushing to the local convenience store to buy bags of salt and chemicals for de-icing. There are greener techniques to clearing these walkways.  For example, consider using clean clay kitty litter, sand, or fireplace/stove ash to de-ice your sidewalk. Chemical de-icers can be harmful to your pets, your plants, and the environment as a whole. Furthermore, these toxic chemicals that melt from your driveway and roads can pollute waterways. These de-icing road salts can adversely affect ground water used for public water supplies if not applied and stored correctly.

So, next time a winter storm is approaching, take a moment to review some winter preparedness safety tips to better protect your family and the environment.

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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Técnicas verdes para deshelar

Sobre la autor: Lina M. F. Younes ha trabajado en la EPA desde el 2002 y está a cargo del Grupo de Trabajo sobre Comunicaciones Multilingües. Como periodista, dirigió la oficina en Washington de dos periódicos puertorriqueños y ha laborado en varias agencias gubernamentales.

Si vive en los estados del este de Estados Unidos, probablemente ha estado paleando bastante nieve esta semana. Tengo que confesar que es divertido poder jugar nuevamente con la nieve cuando recién ha caído. Hacía tiempo que no teníamos una tormenta de nieve así en nuestra región. Pasé gran parte del día deslizándome con mi hija menor en trineo en la pequeña montaña que tenemos detrás de la casa después de la nevada. Sin embargo, todas las actividades invernales al exterior no son iguales. Una de las menos agradables consiste en el tener que lidiar con el hielo en las aceras, caminos y carreteras. Si no toma las precauciones necesarias, el deshielo podría perjudicar el medio ambiente también.

Mientras hay que evitar el tener una acera o entrada de la casa cubierta de hielo, no deberíamos recurrir precipitadamente a la ferretería local a comprar el primer producto con sales y sustancias químicas para deshelar que encontremos allí. Hay técnicas para limpiar las aceras y caminos que son más beneficiosas para el medio ambiente. Por ejemplo, considere usar arenilla limpia para gatos, arena, o cenizas de su chimenea para cubrir el pasillo de entrada a su casa cuando hay hielo. Los productos químicos para deshelar pueden ser dañinos para sus mascotas, sus plantas, y el medio ambiente en general. Además, estas sustancias tóxicas que derriten el hielo en las aceras y carreteras pueden contaminar las vías acuáticas. Estas sales para deshelar el hielo de las carreteras pueden afectar adversamente el agua subterránea utilizada por los servicios públicos de suministro de agua si no son aplicados y almacenados correctamente.

Por ende, la próxima vez que pronostiquen la llegada de una tormenta invernal, revise algunos consejos para prepararse para el invierno y así podrá proteger mejor a su familia y al medio ambiente.

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.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.