memorandum of understanding

Protecting the Environment and Public Health: The Critical Role of Local Environmental Health and the Power of Partnerships

By Tom Burke, PhD, MPH

NEHA Executive Director David T. Dyjack and Tom Burke shake hands after signing the MOU

NEHA Executive Director David T. Dyjack and Tom Burke shake hands after signing the MOU.

As a former state environmental official and Deputy Health Commissioner, I know firsthand the important role that state and local government play in ensuring a clean environment and protecting public health. From safe water and air to cleaning up waste sites and beyond, environmental health practitioners at the local level are integral to keeping communities safe and healthy.

We as a nation have made tremendous progress in environmental protection over the past several decades. However, today’s environmental challenges – like climate change, air and water quality, and the built environment – are increasingly complex and can impact public health in numerous ways. To address them, we need to work together, and to do that, we need strong partnerships.

Today, I had the honor of signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the National Environmental Health Association (NEHA), a 5,000 member organization representing local environmental health practitioners and dedicated to advancing the environmental health and protection professional for the purpose of providing a healthful environment for all.

Through the MOU, NEHA and EPA’s Office of Research and Development will work together on issues that are important to us both – like making sure we have the science and tools needed to address today’s challenges. From partnering on webinars on topics like small drinking water systems to working together on educational materials and delivering critical science information and tools to those who need them, this partnership will strengthen ties between EPA and local environmental health practitioners. Importantly, this MOU will help connect us here at EPA with local environmental health professionals across the Nation who have boots-on-the-ground knowledge about the environmental health issues communities are facing.

The role of local environmental health has always been important, but it becoming more critical as the challenges we face become increasingly complex. This partnership will open the door for collaborations that will help us better understand and address these 21st century environmental challenges and strengthen public health protection now and into the future.

 

About the Author: Thomas Burke, Ph.D. is the Deputy Assistant Administrator of EPA’s Office of Research and Development as well as the Agency’s Science Advisor. He served as the Jacob I. and Irene B. Fabrikant Professor and Chair in Health, Risk and Society and the Associate Dean for Public Health Practice and Training at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health prior to coming to EPA. Before his time at Johns Hopkins, Dr. Burke was Deputy Commissioner of Health for the State of New Jersey and Director of the Office of Science and Research in the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action.

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EPA and the Chickasaw Nation: Working Together to Ensure Long-Term Sustainability and Quality of our Water

By Ann Keeley

Some very exciting events took place last week here in Ada, Oklahoma—EPA’s Robert S. Kerr Environmental Research Center hosted the 50th Anniversary dedication of the Center. A highlight of the celebration included the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between our groundwater remediation and ecosystem restoration scientists and the Chickasaw Nation, a federally recognized American Indian Tribal Nation, also located in Ada.

The Chickasaw Nation will conduct research, lead community outreach efforts, and initiate development and implementation activities in support of the Chickasaw-Choctaw Regional Water Plan and Arbuckle-Simpson Drought Contingency Project that focuses on water conservation, water supply security, and drought resiliency for the communities within the Chickasaw Nation. Our scientists will contribute through research and development activities in support of programs and regional priorities, and the development and analysis of sustainable water and land management systems to improve the environmental quality and community health and awareness in south central Oklahoma.

The MOU being signed at the ceremony

Lek Kadeli  and Bill Anoatubby sign the Memorandum of Understanding between EPA and the Chickasaw Nation during the Robert S. Kerr Environmental Research Center’s 50th Anniversary Event Celebration.

Lek Kadeli, Principal Deputy Assistant Administrator for Management in EPA’s Office of Research and Development, and Bill Anoatubby, Governor of the Chickasaw Nation, gave remarks in honor of the signing.

Kadeli confidently predicted that in another 50 years at the Ada 100th Anniversary, this collaboration will be recognized not only for its scientific achievement, but for the water resource management decisions that allowed this region to thrive. “The people of Ada, Oklahoma and the people of our nation will benefit from the collaboration of the Chickasaw Nation and the Office of Research and Development.” Kadeli stated.

Anoatubby shared with everyone how EPA was the first federal agency to develop policies to work with tribes as sovereign nations, and expressed his appreciation for our Agency being on the forefront of these efforts. With sincerity and conviction he went on to say, “Being able to work with the EPA lab will have a positive impact not only for both parties, but also for the surrounding community. The goals of the MOU can’t be separated from the community goals – they are one in the same – ensuring the long-term sustainability and quality of our water.” The ceremony concluded with Kadeli and Anoatubby signing the official written agreement.

Distinguished guests at the event included EPA officials; current and retired colleagues; and leaders from regional, state, and tribal governments. Also attending was the President of East Central University, John R. Hargrave, other local affiliated academics, and business and community leaders.

At EPA’s Kerr Center, we are committed to helping the Chickasaw Nation and other regional federal tribal nations strengthen their ability to manage associated environmental programs. Through our work, partnerships and mission, we ensure that tribes have a voice in decisions that affect their land, air, and water.

About the Author: Dr. Ann Keeley is an Environmental Microbiologist, and Chief of the Ecosystem Subsurface Protection Branch in Ada, Oklahoma. She has a B.S. in Health with emphasis in clinical microbiology, and an M.S. and Ph.D. in Environmental Microbiology from Mississippi State University. Her research area is combined treatment technologies. She joined EPA in 1998.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action.

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Sports and a Sustainable Future

By Deputy Administrator Bob Perciasepe

With football season starting back up and baseball playoffs around the corner, this is one of my favorite times of the year – and I know many Americans share my excitement.

I am a sports enthusiast. But I am also an environmentalist. Today more than ever, these two passions of mine seem to go hand-in-hand. For the past few years, a number of sports teams, venues and leagues have come forward and expressed interest in greener, cost-saving ways of doing business. These improvements will ensure that, as each pitch is thrown, each goal is scored and each car completes another lap on the racetrack, we’re doing more to conserve resources, clean up our environment and protect the health of our communities.

Green Sports Alliance Board of Directors Chairman and Seattle Mariners Vice President of Ballpark Operations Scott Jenkins and U.S. EPA Deputy Administrator Bob Perciasepe sign the memorandum of understanding.

Green Sports Alliance Board of Directors Chairman and Seattle Mariners Vice President of Ballpark Operations Scott Jenkins and U.S. EPA Deputy Administrator Bob Perciasepe sign the memorandum of understanding.

Yesterday I joined representatives from the Green Sports Alliance, an organization that represents over 100 teams and venues from 13 different leagues, to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) at the Alliance’s second annual Summit in Seattle, WA.

The agreement we signed seeks to build upon our current outreach and sustainability efforts, and it strengthens the partnerships we have with the Alliance so our work can be as far-reaching as possible. It will help ensure that America’s sports teams and venues have the tracking and reporting tools and technical expertise they need to address environmental challenges like waste management, water conservation and pollution. It will also help with the effort to make sports venues’ energy use more efficient – specifically through EPA’s Energy Star program. This year our annual Energy Star National Building Competition has attracted five new sports venues. That’s good news for teams, for the environment and for local communities: Last year’s competition resulted in $5.2 million of utility bill savings and prevented nearly 30,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide from entering our atmosphere – about the same amount of emissions that come from more than 3,600 homes each year.

Teams, stadiums, and venues across the country are already taking significant steps to increase sustainability and protect our environment. The Philadelphia Eagles are preparing for on-site wind and solar generation at Lincoln Financial Field. The National Hockey League became the first league to join EPA’s Green Power Partnership, offsetting 100 percent of its post-season electricity consumption through its green power commitments. These are just two of dozens of examples of how the sports industry has been discovering cost-effective ways to reduce their environmental footprint and engage fans in bringing about a cleaner, healthier future for our communities.

The best news about all of this work is that it has the potential to reach far beyond the stadiums, the fields and the courts. From little league baseball to the majors, from Pop Warner football to the NFL, Americans share a great love for sports. Our favorite teams are not only important to us; they also have the ability to be influential in raising awareness among their fans and setting positive examples when it comes to sustainability.

For all of these reasons, I’m very proud of EPA’s work with the Green Sports Alliance, and I look forward to seeing where our partnership will take us in seasons to come.

About the author: Bob Perciasepe is the Deputy Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

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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