President Obama

Embracing Environmental Justice: Celebrating the 20th Anniversary of E.O. 12898

Cross posted from EPA’s Environmental Justice blog

EPA’s mission to protect public health and the environment is driven by a fundamental belief that regardless of who you are or where you come from, we all have a right to clean air to breathe, safe water to drink, and healthy land to call our home. At the heart of that belief is our unwavering pursuit of environmental justice for minority, low-income, and tribal communities that have been long overburdened by environmental threats.

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Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations.

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Moms Acting on Climate

I recently participated in the #CleanAirMoms Twitter chat with Moms Clean Air Force, a great group of moms making sure we’re keeping our environment safe and healthy for all of our kids.

As a mom, I was thrilled with the enthusiasm for the chat and the energy folks are showing afterwards online and offline to make a difference in their communities. Some moms asked why President Obama cares so much about climate change.

That’s easy enough to answer. When the President unveiled his Climate Action Plan last June to young people at Georgetown University, he made it clear that he wasn’t just speaking as our President but as a parent. As our caregivers for our children, our first responsibility is making sure the world around them is safe and healthy. The President believes it, and I believe it too.

Other moms had questions about the link between climate change and children’s health.

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Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations.

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President Obama Honors Outstanding Early-Career EPA Scientist

Modified from White House, Office of the Press Secretary release

President Obama addressing past PECASE winners.

President Obama addressing past winners of the Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers.

President Obama today named EPA’s Dr. Steven Thomas Purucker one of 102 recipients of the Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers, the highest honor bestowed by the United States Government on science and engineering professionals in the early stages of their independent research careers.  The winners will receive their awards at a Washington, DC, ceremony in the coming year.

“The impressive achievements of these early-stage scientists and engineers are promising indicators of even greater successes ahead,” President Obama said. “We are grateful for their commitment to generating the scientific and technical advancements that will ensure America’s global leadership for many years to come.”

The Presidential Early Career Awards embody the high priority the Obama Administration places on producing outstanding scientists and engineers to advance the Nation’s goals, tackle grand challenges, and contribute to the American economy. The recipients are employed or funded by the following departments and agencies: Department of Agriculture, Department of Commerce, Department of Defense, Department of Education, Department of Energy, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of the Interior, Department of Veterans Affairs, Environmental Protection Agency, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, National Science Foundation, the Smithsonian Institution, and the Intelligence Community, which join together annually to nominate the most meritorious scientists and engineers whose early accomplishments show the greatest promise for assuring America’s preeminence in science and engineering and contributing to the awarding agencies’ missions.

The awards, established by President Clinton in 1996, are coordinated by the Office of Science and Technology Policy within the Executive Office of the President. Awardees are selected for their pursuit of innovative research at the frontiers of science and technology and their commitment to community service as demonstrated through scientific leadership, public education, or community outreach.

To learn more, and see a list of all the winners, please see the White House announcement.

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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The Impacts of a Changing Climate on Our Tribes

In Golovin, Alaska a storm caused damage to subsistence fishing camps. The sea ice destroyed the closest berry picking and beach green harvesting areas. Credit: Toby Anungazak Jr., LEO

 

Tribes in the United States are uniquely vulnerable to the impacts of a changing climate due to the integral nature of the environment within their traditional ways of life and culture. These impacts include erosion, temperature change, drought and various changes in access to and quality of water. As part of EPA’s Climate Adaptation Plan, and in support of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, the Office of International and Tribal Affairs (OITA) has been working closely with tribal partners to provide funding and technical guidance to assist tribes in adapting to these changes.

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Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations.

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Stewardship and a Moral Obligation to Act on Climate

I recently had the chance to sit down with students and faculty at Gordon College in my home state of Massachusetts. Thanks to everyone at the college for a great visit. I look forward to continuing the dialogue with faith leaders nationwide who, through their faith, have a commitment and deep respect for the environment we all share.

Young and old and across different denominations and faiths, our common ground is our shared sense of stewardship and responsibility to address a changing climate that affects us all, especially the most vulnerable among us.

In June and in front of an audience of young people, President Obama spoke about this challenge and moral calling, reaffirming what he said in his second inaugural address that America must strive to “preserve our planet, commanded to our care by God.”

We know that climate change is about the environmental and public health impacts of extreme weather. We know it’s about our economy—about crop shortages and higher food prices; less tourism in snow-capped states and disaster relief in flooded ones. But it’s also about a moral obligation to act and to protect those most affected by its destruction.

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Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations.

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Listening to Heartland Voices: The President’s Climate Action Plan

Leader Blog

This month, Region 7 will be doing a lot of what this agency does best: listen, learn, and lead.  The reason:  the President has tasked the EPA to take the point on one of the most important  challenges facing our generation of Americans:  cutting carbon pollution that harms our health, impedes our industrial competitiveness, and poses serious challenges to Heartland communities that depend on agriculture.

The President in June announced a national Climate Action Plan.  The President’s Plan assigns EPA a big job in accomplishing these vital goals: cutting carbon pollution from power plants, building a transportation sector for the 21st century, encouraging use of cleaner and avoidance of dirtier energy, and preparing this country for climate change’s impacts on weather and water.

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Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations.

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Vigorous Public Outreach to Cut Carbon Pollution and Fight Climate Change

In carrying out President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, EPA is conducting unprecedented and vigorous outreach and public engagement with key stakeholders and the general public. That’s especially true with our proposed commonsense standards to cut carbon pollution from new power plants—and it’s the case leading up to next year when we propose guidelines for states to use in addressing carbon pollution from existing power plants.

In preparing the guidelines for existing power plants, EPA leadership, including Administrator McCarthy, has been meeting with industry leaders and CEOs from the coal, oil, and natural gas sectors. We’ve been working with everyone from governors, mayors, Members of Congress, state and local government officials – from every region of the country — to environmental groups, health organizations, faith groups, and many others. We’re doing this because we know that carbon pollution guidelines for existing power plants require flexibility and sensitivity to state and regional differences. We want to be open to any and all information about what is important to each state and stakeholders. That’s what this process is all about.

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Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations.

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Building Climate Resilience and Adapting to a Changing Climate

Just a few days ago, we observed the one-year anniversary of Superstorm Sandy. We remain committed as ever to helping communities along the eastern coast recover and rebuild after one of our country’s worst natural disasters.

A key part to this recovery and rebuilding is making sure our communities are resilient to a changing climate, and can better adapt to devastating climate-related impacts.  With a mission as critical to protecting public health and the environment, EPA is helping communities across the country do just that.

Earlier today President Obama signed an executive order directing federal agencies to take a series of steps to make it easier for our neighborhoods and communities to strengthen their resilience to extreme weather and other impacts of a changing climate. And that’s why today EPA is releasing its draft Climate Change Adaptation Implementation Plans for public review and comment.

Whenever I travel the country, I see the steps cities, states, and businesses are already taking to prepare and adapt to climate change. The plans offer a roadmap for our Agency’s work to support those ongoing, local efforts. They will inform brownfields investments and local cleanup activity, build climate resilience into Hurricane Sandy recovery activities, and support city programs to strengthen water infrastructure facing the threat of climate-related impacts like floods, droughts, and storm surges.

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Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations.

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A Look Back at EPA’s work in the Wake of Hurricane Sandy

Among the communities devastated by Hurricane Sandy exactly a year ago today was Sayreville, New Jersey and its wastewater pumping station. As the super storm pounded the East Coast, untreated sewage from a pump station for the Sayreville station began flowing into the Raritan River and Bay system – a source of drinking water for many in the area.

In order to stop the toxic flow, two highly-trained EPA contractors were called in to install a six thousand pound gate under water. They performed extremely dangerous dives into 25 feet of raw sewage in a confined space with no visibility and hazardous debris.

They succeeded in installing the gate, which accelerated the restart of the Sayreville Pump station and prevented the discharge of hundreds of millions of gallons of more raw sewage into local waters. This critical work is just one example of countless EPA efforts rising to the occasion during one of nation’s most destructive natural disasters.

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Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations.

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The First 100 Days

Wow, does time fly. It’s already been 100 days since I took the oath of office as EPA Administrator and I couldn’t be more proud of the incredible progress our team has made in such a short time, including proposing commonsense carbon pollution standards under President Obama’s Climate Action Plan.

Each day my goal is to make EPA’s work relevant and important to every community in the United States. Whether it’s listening to farmers in Iowa, meeting with tribal communities in Alaska, or engaging eager college students in Colorado, there is one constant across all of these communities: everyone wants to ensure that their kids are healthy, that their communities are safe and their economies strong.

As we move forward, EPA will continue working with states, local communities and tribes to focus on the things that really matter to people – from cleaning up Superfund sites to modernizing our water infrastructure to addressing one of our nation’s greatest challenges: climate change.

A special thanks to our great team at EPA whose hard work and dedication make a difference each and every day. Take a look at just some of what we’ve made possible in the past 100 days:

  1. We proposed carbon pollution standards for new power plants
  2. We’re addressing environmental justice issues nationwide
  3. We strengthened EPA’s chemical assessment process
  4. We’re modernizing Clean Water Act reporting
  5. We’re initiating efforts to update fuel-economy labeling procedures
  6. We’re encouraging sustainable technology development for small businesses
  7. We expanded citizen access to scientific information on chemicals

A fact sheet outlining our work in more detail is available here.

Time does fly, and although we’ve been able to accomplish a lot in 100 days – we know there’s much more to do.  And I’m excited to see what we can accomplish together.

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations.

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