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EPA’s Report on the Environment: Tracking National Trends Over Time

2014 March 27
Lek Kadeli


March 27, 2014
5:27 pm EDT

With the cold winter still stubbornly hanging on, it’s a bit hard to believe that next week marks the beginning of the 2014 baseball season. As a life-long fan of the game, I always find it easy to slip back into the routine of reading the daily box scores each evening, keeping an eye on batting averages and other pertinent statistics, and assessing the progress of my favorite team—the New York Yankees! I am usually ready to start thinking about October travel plans to the watch playoff home games in the Bronx sometime around the All Star break.

The ability to monitor the state of my team is one of the truly gratifying aspects of baseball. Having a similar ability to assess and monitor trends when it comes to the environment is even a more gratifying aspect of meeting our mission here at EPA: to protect human health and the environment.

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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.

My First “Introduction” to Cesar Chavez, Farmworker Advocate and Labor Leader

2014 March 26
Jim Jones


March 26, 2014
3:17 pm EDT

In March 1968, U.S. Senator and presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy joined Cesar Chavez and 8,000 farmworkers in Delano, CA, to end Chavez’s 25-day fast. Although I was young, the image of Mr. Kennedy and Mr. Chavez on T.V. was embedded in my mind. It was the first time I had heard about the hunger strikes and learned that some people in this country, particularly farmworkers, were not being treated fairly. It was my first introduction to the need for social justice.

U.S. Senator and presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy and Cesar Chavez

Courtesy of Walter P. Reuther Library, Wayne State

Now, I am an Assistant Administrator at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and one of my responsibilities is to help ensure protections from pesticide exposure are in place for farmworkers. Two million farmworkers grow, tend and harvest our food. They deserve to be protected.

This week, the 15th annual Farmworker Awareness Week which concludes with a national day to commemorate the legacy of Cesar Chavez, we recognize the important contribution farmworkers make to our economy and our local communities. read more…

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

Input Critical to Rule on Waters of the U.S.

2014 March 25
Nancy Stoner


March 25, 2014
12:00 pm EDT

There are common driving forces behind all of our work here at EPA. We work to protect human health and the environment. We follow the law and the best science available. And the other critical factor that we always rely on is public input. When this agency is considering an action, we listen very carefully to all stakeholders.

This is certainly the case with the proposed rule to clarify protections for streams and wetlands under the Clean Water Act. Protection for these waters has been confusing and complex for the past decade as the result of Supreme Court decisions in 2001 and 2006. So together with the Army Corps of Engineers, we recently proposed a rule to clarify protection for upstream waters that are vital to the health of downstream waterways and communities. Take a look at this video from EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy to learn more about what this proposed rule means. read more…

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

Champions of Change in a Changing Climate

2014 March 24
Bob Perciasepe


March 24, 2014
11:50 am EDT

I was honored to be part of the Champions of Change event “Engaging the Next Generation of Conservation Leaders” at the White House where I was able to speak to local leaders across the country who are helping get our kids outdoors. For me, personally, the event ignited my passion for engaging the next generation of leaders who embrace our country’s vast natural resources.  We must continue to remember that our resources are finite and our natural spaces are precious. And that we are morally obligated to ensure our children can enjoy the same clean spaces that we do today.

I was truly inspired by the 14 local leaders at this event. These people  have led Antarctic expeditions, offered wilderness treks in the American West, taught ocean stewardship on the East Coast and so much more…this group of awardees is incredible. read more…

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

Addressing Crucial Water Issues in Our Communities

2014 March 20
Nancy Stoner


March 20, 2014
4:55 pm EDT

This year, we here at EPA celebrate the 20th anniversary of President Clinton signing Executive Order 12898, which directed federal agencies to address environmental disparities in minority and low-income communities. We’ve certainly accomplished a lot since the order was signed, but sadly, too many people still breathe dirty air, live near toxic waste dumps, or lack reliable access to clean water. But we continue to make progress in all of those areas, and here in EPA’s Office of Water, I’m proud of how we’re helping communities across America—both rural and urban—address their most crucial water issues.

Last fall, I was in Laredo, Texas and visited a community near the U.S.-Mexico border called the colonias, which until recently did not have regular access to clean water. Thanks to funding from EPA’s U.S.-Mexico Border Infrastructure Program, 3,700 people in the colonias now have access to a modern sewer system. We also have a program that provides funding for the planning, design and construction of wastewater infrastructure for American Indian and Alaskan Native communities. Providing access to clean water to people who have never had it before is one of the most important things we have the power and resources to do.

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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.

Walmart to Help its Customers Save Money, Live Better— with Safer Chemicals

2014 March 13
Jim Jones


March 13, 2014
3:43 pm EDT

Design for the Environment image

Walmart will now help its customers save money and “live better” with safer chemicals through a recently released and ambitious plan to move toward safer, more sustainable chemistry in products. As the largest retailer in the world, the significance of this action can’t be overstated in its potential to rewrite the basic formulas by which consumer products are designed, manufactured, and marketed in the U.S.

By placing safer chemistry at the heart of their expectations and guidance to product suppliers, and by walking the talk by requiring manufacturer’s of its in-store brands to lead the way in safer formulation, Walmart has created a new manufacturing paradigm for consumer products, one that adds safer chemistry and ingredient transparency to the traditional elements of performance and cost.

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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.

Is Your Child’s School Stuck on a Pest Control Treadmill?

2014 March 12
Jim Jones


March 12, 2014
3:41 pm EDT

Many schools are stuck on a “treadmill” of never-ending pesticide applications, without addressing the underlying issues that make schools attractive to pests. If we can make it so pests aren’t attracted in the first place, the need for pesticides in schools would be greatly reduced.

Choosing a smart, sensible, and sustainable approach can reduce pests and pesticide risks, create a healthier environment for our children, and save schools money in pesticide treatment and energy costs from improved insulation as a result of sealing cracks and adding door sweeps. We call this approach Integrated Pest Management (IPM).

John McDonogh High

Jim Jones, Assistant Administrator for EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, and school leaders toured John Mcdonogh High School

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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.

Reliable and Affordable Energy

2014 March 11
Joseph Goffman


March 11, 2014
6:08 pm EDT

With the severe winter of 2014 as a backdrop, there have been questions about the future affordability and reliability of electricity. But what’s so often missing from this discussion is the reality that technological and economic transitions in the power sector are modernizing our nation’s electricity system. The result?  Clean, affordable energy for generations to come.

As part of this change-over, older coal-burning plants are already being phased out. Some people still wonder whether EPA is to blame for these closures. But the reality is that power plant retirements are business decisions to move away from investing in aging facilities, many of which are more than 50 years old, do not control pollution, and are almost never run anywhere near full capacity. Other factors like low natural gas prices relative to other fuels and slow growth in demand for electricity also contribute to these market-driven business decisions.

We have seen significant progress in the power sector — all while keeping our businesses and homes powered up and our economy growing. For example, new and improved technologies — including more efficient and responsive natural gas plants, lower renewable energy costs, energy efficiency advances, and smart grid growth — are creating innovative ways to generate, transmit, and use electricity.

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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.

Sustainable Biofuel to Combat Climate Change

2014 March 4
Shawn Garvin


March 4, 2014
6:49 pm EDT

I’m a supporter of on-the-ground work in academia and how student research programs across the United States are helping to solve our country’s environmental problems, often with assistance from the federal government.

That’s why I was delighted to visit with Dr. Sandeep Kumar and his team of graduate and undergraduate students at Old Dominion University Research Foundation in Norfolk, Virginia.  My visit was timely – EPA had just awarded the team a P3 grant for $15,000.

Garvin Old Dominion

EPA Regional Administrator Shawn M. Garvin with Dr. Sandeep Kumar’s research team at Old Dominion University laboratory.

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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.

Environmental Protection Takes a Team

2014 March 4
Karl Brooks


March 4, 2014
10:01 am EDT

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, herself a veteran of state environmental agencies, always reminds us that environmental protection is an “enterprise.” That means EPA is only one part of a larger effort that keeps people healthy and our natural environment productive. A very important part, to be sure, but EPA can only accomplish our mission by working with partners: state agencies, local communities, businesses large and small, and families who grow the crops that feed our world.

Here in the Heartland, Region 7 recently hosted two important conversations that illustrate why we say, “Environmental protection is a team effort.”

Region 7 includes much of our country’s most productive farmland. From Missouri’s Bootheel, which raises cotton and rice, to Nebraska’s cattle country stretching nearly to the Rockies, agriculture’s engine room drives much of America’s farm output. And when you look west, EPA Region 8 encompasses not just the Dakotas’ irrigated corn and bean producers, but wheat growers on the Plains and stockraisers along the Rocky Mountains from Montana to Utah. This immense agricultural bounty requires the EPA to know farming, and to know farmers. Some of America’s most influential innovators are ag producers and their suppliers, customers, and research institutes at land-grant universities and private firms. read more…

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