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Join Me in Congratulating Our 2014 Indoor airPLUS Leader Award Winners!

2014 August 14
Janet McCabe


August 14, 2014
4:46 pm EDT

In a recent blog post, I wrote about new guidance EPA published to help building professionals address moisture control, which is key to controlling many indoor contaminants. Beyond providing this type of guidance, we seek to improve indoor air quality (IAQ) by encouraging builders and home energy raters to participate in EPA’s Indoor airPLUS Program. Indoor airPLUS offers construction specifications and a simple, straightforward checklist to achieve an EPA label for improved IAQ in new homes.

It has been our experience that consumers are as concerned with the health, safety, and comfort of their homes as they are with reducing utility bills and maintenance costs.  EPA created Indoor airPLUS  in 2009 to help builders meet this growing consumer preference for homes with improved indoor air quality. Building on the successes of the ENERGY STAR Certified Homes Program, Indoor airPLUS  adds a few simple steps during construction, which can help protect homeowners from mold, pests, combustion by-products, and other airborne pollutants, while they are in the house.  And, keeping our buildings healthy has never been more important as we make them more energy efficient to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change. read more…

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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American Ingenuity on Display at Next Gen Tech Demo Day

2014 August 13
Cynthia Giles


August 13, 2014
3:35 pm EDT

•Administrator McCarthy, then-Deputy Administrator Perciasepe and Assistant Administrator Giles learn about water pollution monitoring technology.

Administrator McCarthy, then-Deputy Administrator Perciasepe and Assistant Administrator Giles learn about water pollution monitoring technology.

 

I’ve been talking a lot about the impact and promise of EPA’s Next Generation Compliance strategy. As a vital program to reduce pollution, build transparency and save costs, it has become a driving force to unleash American ingenuity and innovation. This was certainly evident last week, when EPA hosted a “Next Generation Compliance Advanced Monitoring Tech Demo Day” that convened some of the latest advances in pollution monitoring across the country. Walking through the event with Administrator McCarthy and then-Deputy Administrator Perciasepe was so much fun, not to mention inspiring. EPA, academia, industry and non-profit organizations presented so many solutions there, each with a unique approach to solve complex pollution challenges.

Here’s a quick recap of what we saw.

read more…

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 Cleaner Environment, a Stronger Economy

2014 August 13
Tom Reynolds


August 13, 2014
2:21 pm EDT

When we last heard from the Chamber of Commerce, they were releasing a report that made unfounded assumptions about EPA’s commonsense standards to cut the harmful pollution from power plants. The Washington Post Fact Checker later gave those citing the study a “Four Pinocchio” rating.
Yesterday, the Chamber had another blog post that both misrepresents EPA’s analysis of the economic impact of its regulations and misleads about a recent GAO study.

EPA is keenly aware that our economy is on the rebound and that policy makers are concerned about impacts on employment — that is why we have increased the amount of employment analysis we perform over the last several years, particularly for economically significant rules.

read more…

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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Recognizing One of EPA’s Greatest

2014 August 7
Gina McCarthy


August 7, 2014
4:55 pm EDT

Today, everyone at EPA took a moment to honor one our greatest champions for the public health and the environment.  Few people have had as lasting an impact on the vital work of EPA as our Deputy Administrator, Bob Perciasepe.  After 13 combined years at the agency, it’s bittersweet that Bob will be leaving to assume an exciting new role as the President of the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions.  The fact that so many of us at EPA call Bob a friend is testament to his dedication to this agency and its people—and, of course, his terrific humor and good heart.

He’s not only the sole person to have served as Assistant Administrator at EPA for both the Offices of Water and Air and Radiation, but he was also key to some of our major successes there, from protecting iconic waters like his beloved Chesapeake Bay to making huge reductions in sulfur levels in fuels.  So it was no surprise that President Obama appointed Bob as Deputy Administrator in 2009.  He’s worked tirelessly to improve the way EPA works so we can better meet the needs of the people we serve, especially people that need us most.  He’s handled the hard times like a champion, like helping us navigate through two government-shutdowns.  It’s clear we would not be as successful an agency today without him, and we’re all in his debt.  Not just the EPA family, but all American families who enjoy cleaner air and water thanks to his work.

Deputy Adminstrator Bob Perciasepe receives a standing ovation as he speaks at a podium.

With his departure, EPA is losing a cherished colleague and leader who poured everything he had into the agency’s mission.  And personally, I’m going to be losing a great friend working by my side.  We’ll all miss his sage advice, his quick wit, and his jovial attitude.

But as Bob himself will tell you, we’ve got the best and brightest staff around.  It’s the people of EPA—people like Bob Perciasepe—that have fueled decades of progress cutting pollution and protecting a safer, healthier nation. From chemical safety and air pollution, to clean water and climate change and everything in between—we’ve got our work cut out for us.  But with the compassionate people at EPA, compelled by our mission and committed to public service, I know we’ll keep moving forward.

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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Water Unites Us

2014 August 7
Nancy Stoner


August 7, 2014
2:08 pm EDT

This past weekend I had occasion to reflect on my service as EPA’s water chief as I attended an internment of the ashes of my Uncle Richard and Aunt Ginger.  They did many important and impressive things in their lives, but I remember them most for the gatherings they hosted at Stoner’s Lonesome, a small lake in Brown County, Indiana.

After the service at the cemetery, the extended family gathered at the lake for fishing, boating, swimming, and communion with one another.  As we floated together in the clear, cool water reminiscing about summers past at Stoner’s Lonesome long ago, it reinforced my strongly held belief that our collective experience with water is not just about public health or environmental protection or economics, but also about quenching the soul, quieting the mind, and enriching the human spirit.

Tapping into that inner knowledge of the value of water to our lives will motivate us as a nation to come together to meet the challenges ahead.  It has been my honor and privilege to be involved in that effort on behalf of the American public for the past four and a half years at EPA.

water-unites-us-blog1

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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EPA: Protecting Water: A Precious, Limited Resource

2014 August 6
Gina McCarthy


August 6, 2014
2:30 pm EDT

Summer is when many families head to our oceans, lakes, and streams to fish, swim, and enjoy our nation’s waters—bringing water quality and safety to the top of our minds. EPA has a critical mission to make sure our nation’s water resources are safe for drinking, for recreation, and for aquatic life.

Earlier this summer, I asked EPA employees to share the innovative work they’re doing to protect our nation’s water resources. I’d like to share some of their great stories with you.
read more…

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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Thousands Participate in EPA Public Hearings

2014 August 6
Janet McCabe


August 6, 2014
11:41 am EDT

EPA panelists listening to testimony in DC

EPA panelists listening to testimony in DC

Last week Administrator McCarthy wrote a blog post about EPA’s proposed Clean Power Plan and the kickoff of our public hearings. Today, I am writing to report that the hearings were a great success – we heard from all kinds of people who expressed a wide variety of views.

The four multi-day public hearings took place in Atlanta, Denver, Pittsburgh, and Washington D.C. One of the important and wonderful things about our federal rulemaking process is that it gives us opportunities to collect direct feedback on our proposals through public hearings like these. People have an opportunity to interact directly with their federal government and provide input that can help shape a major rulemaking.
read more…

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 Renewal Continues in New Orleans

2014 August 5
Nancy Stoner


August 5, 2014
10:30 am EDT

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Nancy Stoner

New Orleans is defined by its location along the Mississippi River and near the Gulf of Mexico. It is working hard to define its water future — a future in which the city is less vulnerable to flooding and sea level rise and is able to retain or restore many of the coastal wetlands that have been lost over the years because people have altered the hydrology.

The Urban Waters Ambassador, Danny Wiegand, funded by the Office of Water and on detail from the Army Corps of Engineers, is the perfect guy to take on this assignment. He’s working closely with the Mayor’s office, other agencies such as HUD and FEMA, and most importantly, the citizens of New Orleans and grassroots groups such as Groundwork New Orleans. read more…

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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New Biogas Opportunities Roadmap is Part of Climate Change Solution, Emerging Biogas Industry Offers New Revenue Opportunities for America’s Farmers

2014 August 1
Paul Gunning, Todd Campbell, and Reuben Sarkar


August 1, 2014
1:00 am EDT

Cross posted from the USDA blog.

Farmers have long understood the need to care for our air, land and water. They know that farms are more productive and efficient when they’re properly cared for. Protecting natural resources protects their bottom lines and may be able to improve them as well.

Farmers are always looking for ways to make a living and be good stewards of the land, which is why the emerging biogas industry is so important to rural America. Across the country, biogas systems that capture methane from farming operations and use it to generate renewable energy currently provide enough renewable energy to power the equivalent of almost 70,000 average American homes.

For example, in Kewaunee County, Wisconsin, where agriculture is the third leading employer of county residents, there are two anaerobic digesters, both on dairy farms, and three wind farms in operation. Collectively, these systems generate enough power to support and sustain 8,000 households. With a total of 8,900 households located in the county, renewable energy is virtually powering the entire county.

The potential for the biogas industry is well demonstrated, but there are still relatively few biogas systems in use on farms across the country. Research indicates that an additional 8,000 livestock operations are candidates to support biogas projects, in addition to the 239 anaerobic digesters currently operating on farms across the country. If its full potential was realized, a cost-effective biogas industry could produce enough energy from the livestock sector to power 1 million average American homes.

That is why the Biogas Opportunities Roadmap (PDF), released today by the Obama Administration, is so critical. It supports the Climate Action Plan – Strategy to Reduce Methane Emissions and outlines voluntary actions to support the expansion of the American biogas industry and help it live up to its full potential.

A comprehensive plan to confront climate change should address methane as well as carbon emissions. Methane is the second most prevalent greenhouse gas emitted in the United States from human activities, responsible for about nine percent of US greenhouse gas emissions.  Use of biogas reduces emissions of methane, reduces the emissions associated with the burning of fossil fuels, and supports the Administration’s “all-of-the-above” energy strategy.

The Opportunities Roadmap builds on progress made to date to address some of the barriers that currently limit biogas development and supports voluntary efforts to reduce methane emissions already underway across the country. It also reflects a commitment to continue working with industry stakeholders on identifying steps to expand the biogas industry, including through the development of new technologies. Last year, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and the U.S. dairy industry renewed a partnership in support of a voluntary industry goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from dairy farms by 25 percent by 2020. Methane capture systems are a significant component of this effort, and farmers stand to benefit significantly by the advancement of this technology.

It is important to point out that the emissions intensity of the production of meat and milk in the U.S. is much lower today that it was even a few decades ago. A recent report by FAO showed that North American production of milk and beef is among the most efficient in the world in terms of the GHG emissions per unit of production. With cost-effective technology deployment to utilize biogas, operations could capture increased revenues with reduced emission and other benefits, offering a “win-win” for farmers, communities and the country.

The Opportunities Roadmap also lays out a plan for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Department of Energy, and the Environmental Protection Agency to use existing programs to enhance the use of biogas systems in the U.S by conducting research to accelerate the development of bio-based products from biomass systems and strengthening programs that support farmers as they install these systems on their operations, among other things.

American farmers have a long history of innovation, and a strong commitment to conservation. These efforts are more important than ever as we face the challenges posed by a changing climate and weather variability. Supporting and expanding the biogas industry, using the plan outlined in the Biogas Opportunities Roadmap, will help to strengthen those efforts while supporting new opportunities for America’s farmers, strengthening our economy, and ultimately making America more secure by increasing energy independence.

Learn more:

About the authors:

Paul Gunning is the Director of the Climate Change Division at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Todd Campbell is the Energy Policy Advisor at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Reuben Sarkar is the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Transportation at the U.S. Department of Energy

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 Call to Public Service: Civil Rights and Environmental Justice

2014 July 31
Bob Perciasepe


July 31, 2014
5:00 pm EDT

As a child growing up in the 1950s in upstate New York, my days were filled with school, baseball, and playing in the woods. In my early years, I was mostly unaware of the broader social issues of the time.

Coming of age in the ‘60s, all of that changed.

The 24-hour news cycle didn’t exist yet, and it took more effort to keep up with current events back then. But as a young teenager, I began to pay more attention—and in 1963 the world came crashing in. The March on Washington, Dr. Martin Luther King’s speech, and President Kennedy’s assassination suddenly made me aware of a greater struggle beyond the world I knew.

As I started high school, I tried to understand how these events fit together—but I couldn’t comprehend why, in the United States of America, it was a struggle to pass a law to assure equal rights. But justice finally prevailed and the Civil Rights Act passed in 1964.

Like the civil rights movement, the environmental movement was made up of ordinary people who faced injustice and focused public attention to confront it. Unbearable smog in Los Angeles and a burning river in Ohio were a wake-up call to Americans that pollution threatens our health, and that we have a responsibility to fight it.

Our nation’s major environmental laws were passed in the early 1970s, but they too were a struggle, with many critics claiming they would kill the economy.

Now, as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act, hindsight helps us appreciate where these years of struggle have led. As I got older, I came to understand that any problem worth tackling is difficult in the moment—but that we should do things not because they are easy, but because they are hard.

Civil rights and environmental protection were hard-won out of the same desire for a stronger, more equal America. Both have transformed our nation for the better.  Today, the air in Los Angeles is breathable. Fish swim again in Ohio’s Cuyahoga River. And despite the naysayers, the U.S. has cut air pollution 70 percent since 1970, while GDP has tripled.

But there’s still more work to do.

We have less pollution than we did in decades past, but the benefits of our collective cleanup are still unequal.  Poor and underserved communities are still unfairly impacted by pollution—leading to illness and missed days of school and work that disadvantaged families can’t afford. Whether it’s smog that causes asthma, toxic chemicals that foul our water, or carbon pollution that fuels climate change, our job is to right that wrong.

That’s where civil rights and environmental protection converge today, and it’s why EPA’s commitment to environmental justice is so important. This summer, our country took a huge step forward. Although we limit pollutants like mercury, sulfur, and arsenic, currently, there are no limits on carbon pollution from power plants, our nation’s largest source. Under President Obama’s direction, the EPA’s proposed Clean Power Plan will cut carbon pollution from power plants 30 percent by 2030.  At the same time, we’ll cut other dangerous pollutants like particulate matter, nitrogen oxides, and sulfur dioxide.

During this 50th anniversary year of the Civil Rights Act, we must recommit to justice in all its forms, and for us at EPA, this means making sure everyone has equal access to the benefits of our work, regardless of who they are or where they come from. I know our team is up to the task.

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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