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National Manufacturing Day: Celebrating Energy Efficiency with Energy Star in the Manufacturing Sector

2014 October 3
Gina McCarthy


October 3, 2014
10:28 am EDT

Today, both manufacturing output and employment are growing, and companies are going even further by committing to improving their energy efficiency. Since the end of the recession, the manufacturing sector has created more than 700,000 jobs, and the industry supports more than 16 million U.S. jobs in manufacturing and its supply chains. The importance of this sector to our economy cannot be overstated. Manufacturing has the largest multiplier effect of any part of the economy, and for every $1.00 spent in manufacturing, the sector generates $1.32 for the U.S. economy.

That’s why I’m taking this opportunity today, on National Manufacturing Day, to recognize three industrial facilities recently awarded with our Energy Star Combined Heat and Power (CHP) Award for their highly efficient CHP systems, which decrease energy costs and reduce carbon pollution that leads to climate change. CHP, also known as cogeneration, simultaneously produces electricity and steam or hot water from a single heat source, using traditional or renewable fuels. It provides reliable and cost-effective electricity and heat for a variety of manufacturing processes, including the production of chemicals and pharmaceuticals, where energy costs can be a significant portion of operating costs. 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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Where to Find EPA at WEFTEC

2014 September 24
Ken Kopocis


September 24, 2014
5:01 pm EDT

EPA has a long history of participating in the Water Environment Federation’s (WEF) Annual Technical Exhibition and Conference (WEFTEC) and 2014 is no different.  EPA will have a robust presence at the event, which is being held at the Morial Convention Center in New Orelans.

WEFTEC is the biggest meeting of its kind in North America and offers thousands of water quality professionals from around the world the best water quality education and training available today. Also recognized as the world’s largest annual water quality exhibition, WEFTEC’s massive show floor provides unparalleled access to the field’s most cutting-edge technologies and services. EPA is looking forward to being part of the event again this year.

This list highlights just some of the events and sessions in which EPA will play a part.

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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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EPA Works to Combat Climate Change with the Help of Tribal Communities

2014 September 23
Jane Nishida


September 23, 2014
3:42 pm EDT

As world leaders discuss ways to advance climate action during this week’s UN Climate Summit, we must consider one group that has a long history of understanding changing climates – Native American tribes. Many tribal groups have been observing the ebb and flow of rivers and harvests for thousands of years, and understand how to adapt for survival. This knowledge is often called Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) and it holds a tremendous amount of value not only for indigenous groups, but for scientists and policymakers.

We are looking at how we can integrate TEK into EPA’s work, and the federal government is also making TEK an important part of the decision-making process. In November 2013, the White House Council on Native American Affairs was formed to improve coordination of federal programs and resources to support and assist tribal communities. Since then, a number of subgroups have been established focusing on specific issues, including a Climate Change Subgroup that Administrator McCarthy is leading in partnership with Secretary Sally Jewell of the Department of Interior. The Climate Change Subgroup will be looking at the recommendations of the Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience, which included the leaders of two Native American communities who, in turn, held multiple engagements with tribal members across the country about their goals and needs.

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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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Greening America’s Capitals: Protecting Water, Boosting Resiliency, Strengthening Economies

2014 September 23
Joel Beauvais


September 23, 2014
3:17 pm EDT

Protecting water quality from polluted runoff is just one of the challenges many towns and cities face. Since 2010, our Greening America’s Capitals Program has helped 18 state capitals and the District of Columbia create sustainable community designs that incorporate green infrastructure. These projects can help clean the air and water, increase resilience, stimulate economic development and assist economically distressed neighborhoods, and make existing neighborhoods more vibrant places to live and work.

Today, we announced five new recipients of this technical assistance: Austin, TX; Carson City, NV; Columbus, OH; Pierre, SD; and Richmond, VA. Along with benefiting these communities, the projects are intended to serve as models for other communities that are trying to grow in sustainable ways.

A 2008 EPA study put the national cost of water infrastructure for managing combined sewer overflows and stormwater at more than $105 billion. As communities make choices about infrastructure investments in the face of growth and shifting climate patterns, green infrastructure offers a beneficial and cost-effective alternative. Green infrastructure can complement gray infrastructure by reducing and treating stormwater at its source while delivering a variety of environmental, social, and economic benefits.

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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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Climate Week – It’s Time For Action

2014 September 22
Gina McCarthy


September 22, 2014
9:30 am EDT

Last year, President Obama laid out a Climate Action Plan to cut the carbon pollution fueling climate change, build a more resilient nation, and lead the global climate fight. As the world comes together in New York compelled by the urgent need to act on climate, I’m proud to join President Obama to reinforce our commitment.

This past year brought tons of progress, including EPA’s proposed Clean Power Plan to limit carbon pollution from our largest source—power plants.

This week, I’ll be helping deliver a clear message: a world-leading economy depends on a healthy environment and a safe climate.  EPA’s job is to protect public health.  More health risks mean more costs for all of us.  We don’t act despite the economy; we act because of it.

Today, I’m talking to government leaders and health organizations from around the world on how climate action helps reduce global health risks.  On Tuesday, I’ll be meeting with CEOs from some of the world’s biggest businesses, to thank them for the climate action they’re already taking, and to discuss ways to do more.  And later this week, I’ll be speaking at Resources for the Future in D.C. to lay out how a strong economy depends on climate action.

We know that climate change supercharges risks to our health and our economy.  OMB Director Shaun Donovan spoke last week on how the costs of extreme weather, especially in America’s coastal cities, are expected in increase by billions of dollars.  And we’re going to hear from Treasury Secretary Jack Lew later today on the “Economic Costs of Climate Change”—and the high price of inaction to American businesses and taxpayers.

The good news is, we can turn our climate challenge into an opportunity to build a low-carbon economy that will drive growth for decades to come.

A perfect example of smart climate action is EPA’s historic fuel efficiency standards for cars and trucks.  They’re cutting carbon pollution, saving families money at the pump, and fueling a resurgent auto industry that’s added more than 250,000 jobs since 2009.  The number of cars coming off American assembly lines made by American workers just reached its highest level in 12 years.  And let’s not forget—since President Obama took office, the U.S. uses three times more wind power and ten times more solar power, which means thousands of jobs.

EPA’s Clean Power Plan follows that trend.  We’ve already received great feedback on our proposal, with more than 750,000 comments from health groups, industry groups, faith groups, parents and more.  We want every good idea we can get, so we extended the public comment period through December 1st.

It’s true that climate change needs a global solution.  We can’t act for other nations—but when the United States of America leads, other nations follow.  Action to reduce pollution doesn’t dull our competitive edge—it sharpens it.  If you want to talk return on investment: over the last four decades, EPA has cut air pollution by 70 percent while the U.S. economy has tripled in size.

Today we have more cars, more people, more jobs, more businesses, and less pollution.  We can—and must—lead on climate.  And being in New York this week, surrounded by hundreds of thousands of citizens calling for climate action, it’s clear to see that the American people overwhelmingly agree.  When we act on climate, we seize an opportunity to retool and resurge with new technologies, new industries, and new jobs.  We owe it to our kids to leave them a healthier, safer, and opportunity-rich world for generations to come.

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 Commitment to Keep Our Waters Clean and Safe

2014 September 19
Cynthia Giles


September 19, 2014
4:28 pm EDT

 When Congress passed the Clean Water Act in 1972, it gave EPA the responsibility to protect public health and the environment from pollution stemming from farms and concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs). We take this charge seriously and have dedicated one of EPA’s six National Enforcement Initiatives to preventing animal waste from CAFOs from contaminating water. If not managed properly, animal waste can impair drinking water sources, transmit disease-causing bacteria and parasites, and pollute the rivers and lakes on which we all depend.

In 2011, an EPA review of a poultry CAFO owned by Lois Alt in West Virginia determined that when it rained, manure and other pollutants were discharging into a nearby creek that flowed into the Potomac River. The discharge required a permit under the Clean Water Act which would have defined safeguards to minimize pollution.

EPA issued an administrative order to address this pollution. The Alt CAFO then clarified existing management practices and adopted new ones in its operations to reduce runoff of manure, and then challenged the order in court. After EPA’s follow-up inspection and correspondence with Ms. Alt confirmed that the changes would reduce pollution, EPA withdrew the order and requested the court to dismiss the case because the dispute was over. It was time to move on and focus on more pressing issues of environmental and public health protection.

The district court nonetheless heard the case. After more than a year of legal proceedings, the district court issued a decision that offers an overly broad view of the Clean Water Act’s exemption for agricultural stormwater.

Although EPA thinks that the district court decision is wrong, we also think that it is time to stop spending resources on litigation about this CAFO. EPA is not going to appeal this decision; our resources are better spent remedying more serious, ongoing pollution across the country.

The briefs we filed in this case – and many others – state that Congress established CAFOs as point sources, and that when CAFOs discharge pollutants from the production area into waters of the United States, as the Alt operation did, the law requires permit authorization.

EPA stands by this position.

Pollution from CAFOs flowing into local waterways when it rains is an environmental and public health risk. The law gives EPA the authority to require that agriculture operations with large numbers of animals in a small area that discharge pollutants to U.S. waters obtain a permit, to reduce their environmental impact. EPA remains committed to working with the agricultural community to ensure compliance with this legal requirement and to pursue enforcement when necessary. One district court decision does not change either the law across the country or EPA’s commitment to protecting water quality.

A smart and strategic enforcement program requires us to make choices about where to spend our time for the biggest benefit to the public. We stand firm on this commitment to protect public health and the environment.

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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Public Input Vital to Clean Water Proposal

2014 September 18
Ken Kopocis


September 18, 2014
5:13 pm EDT

At EPA, our mission is to protect human health and the environment. We follow the law and the best available science, and we always rely heavily on public input.

Anytime this agency considers an action, we listen carefully to all stakeholders. Our proposal to clarify protections for streams and wetlands under the Clean Water Act is no different.

Public input was a major reason EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers proposed a rule. For almost a decade, members of Congress, the Supreme Court, state and local officials, industry, agriculture, environmental groups, and the public have called for a rulemaking to protect clean water and provide greater predictabilityand consistency about which waters are protected by the Clean Water Act. The proposal will keep our water clean and offer the clarity they requested (See who requested a rulemaking).

Before we put pen to paper on our proposal, we carefully considered the 415,000 comments we received on this issue over the past decade. Public input shaped the agencies’ views on where the Clean Water Act should apply.

Since releasing the proposal in March, EPA and the Army Corps have conducted unprecedented outreach to a wide range of stakeholders, holding more than 340 meetings all across the country to offer information, listen to concerns, and answer questions.

The agencies have responded to every request from outside groups to discuss the proposal and reached out proactively to many organizations to offer information and meetings. EPA Administrator McCarthy herself has heard from farmers, commodity groups, hunters and sportsmen, conservationists, business leaders, and faith groups.  EPA officials from Washington, D.C. traveled across the country, holding roundtables in nine states and visiting farms in states from Texas and Colorado to Pennsylvania, Arizona and Mississippi.

We’re not just holding meetings for the sake of it – we are listening carefully.  We’ve heard from the business community that they can’t succeed without clean, reliable water supplies. We’ve heard from farmers and ranchers, who have questions and concerns about how the proposal may impact them. We’ve heard from hunters and fishermen who stress the importance of clean water to recreation and to the tourism, sporting goods, and outfitting industries that support it. All of these perspectives matter to the agencies.

Because public input is so vital, the agencies extended the original public comment period from 90 days to 182 days. The comment period is open until October 20, and the EPA and the Army Corps welcome input to make sure we have a strong, achievable final rule. The agencies give careful consideration to all comments and aim to publish a final rule in spring 2015.

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 Public-Private Partnership That Works

2014 September 18
Gina McCarthy


September 18, 2014
2:11 pm EDT

 

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy participates in  a White House Industry Leader Roundtable

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy participates in a White House Industry Leader Roundtable

 

By EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy

Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to meet with private and public sector leaders to discuss ways we can significantly reduce emissions of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), potent greenhouse gases used in refrigeration and air conditioning systems that contribute to climate change and can be hundreds to thousands of times stronger than carbon dioxide. And their use is increasing—U.S. HFC emissions are expected to nearly double by 2020 and triple by 2030.

I came away from the meeting understanding that American businesses are ready to meet this challenge. At the roundtable gathering, Carrier, a major manufacturer of air conditioning and refrigeration equipment, committed to the commercialization of HFC-free refrigerants in road transportation refrigeration by 2020, building on its expertise with HFC-free carbon dioxide refrigerant in marine container and food retail. And Lapolla committed to transitioning its entire foam product line to be high-GWP HFC free by 2016.

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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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Coral Reefs

2014 September 17
Jared Blumenfeld


September 17, 2014
1:50 pm EDT

All life on Earth began in the oceans.

Maybe that’s why so many of us love to swim and play in the salty ocean water. At the heart of this dynamic and beautiful ecosystem lies coral reefs. These living organisms come in a seemingly endless array of shapes, sizes and colors, and they help support an incredible assortment of fish, plants and other aquatic life.

Simply put, there is nothing as magical as floating slowly over the top of a dense coral forest.

In fact, people come from all over the world to swim the coral reef areas in Hawai’i, from Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve (Oahu) to Honolu’a Bay (Maui) to Kealakekua Bay (Big Island). Coral reefs surround all of the Hawaiian Islands and 25 percent of the species on Hawaii’s reefs are endemic, found nowhere else in the world.

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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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Re-connecting the Two Hearted River

2014 September 11
Cameron Davis


September 11, 2014
12:00 pm EDT

A six-year effort has now been completed—using funds from EPA’s Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and other sources—to re-connect 35 miles of the Two Hearted River. As a result, this waterway is now one of the longest free-flowing rivers in the Great Lakes.

Though the Two Hearted is the only designated wilderness river in the state, that doesn’t mean the watershed hasn’t been beaten up, much of its bruising from sweeping white pine clear-cutting decades ago. More recently, stream crossings over culverts have collapsed, creating jams and resulting in sediment pouring into the waterway. The stream then fractured, with spawning beds smothering from siltation.

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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.

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.