Skip to content

Moms Matter in our Fight Against Climate Change

2015 March 11
Gina McCarthy, Lisa Hoyos, Harriet Shugarman, Kuae Mattox, and Dominique Browning


March 11, 2015
10:00 am EDT

Our children mean the world to us.  So as moms, when we say we must meet our moral obligation to leave the next generation a world that is safe and healthy, we mean it.  For us moms, it’s personal.   It’s our children and grandchildren who are currently suffering from the effects of pollution.  It’s our children and grandchildren who make up the future generations each one of us is obligated to protect.   This March marks Women’s History Month; a time to recognize the unwavering strength of the mothers coming together to organize, speak out, and stand up for the health of their children.

MomsblogEPA plays a critical role in protecting our children from pollution by keeping our air and water clean and safe, and by taking historic steps to fight climate change.  And it turns out, efforts to combat climate change double as public health protection, too.  The carbon pollution that fuels climate change comes packaged with other dangerous pollutants that cause smog and soot.  With 1-in-10 children in the U.S. today already dealing with asthma—and even higher rates in communities of color—we must do all that we can to reduce harmful exposure.

read more…

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.

Understanding the Benefits of Using a Community-Wide Approach to Reusing Brownfield Properties

2015 March 10
Mathy Stanislaus


March 10, 2015
12:23 pm EDT

When I joined EPA, I wanted to continue to help communities address their brownfield sites in a coordinated way – to bring the community, federal resources and stakeholders together to plan for the revitalization of neighborhoods, particularly in communities facing economic distress and disruption. EPA’s Area-Wide Planning (AWP) grants were modeled after New York State’s Brownfields Opportunity Area (BOA) program which provided a framework for communities to draft brownfields revitalization plans and consider implementation strategies.

The AWP grants recognize that successful, sustained community revitalization occurs by fostering inclusive revitalization planning among neighborhood stakeholders, local governments and the private sector. This locally driven planning advances health and inclusive economic development by fostering  public-private  strategies for community-wide improvements such as infrastructure investments to catalyze redevelopment opportunities on brownfield sites – the types of investments needed to equitably revitalize communities in ways that meet local community needs for jobs, recreation, housing, and increased tax base. The program recognizes the need to affirmatively address environmental justice concerns, and rejected the notion that only low market uses can be built on brownfield sites in low- and moderate-income 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.

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.

This Spring, Look for the Safer Choice Label

2015 March 4
Gina McCarthy


March 4, 2015
1:16 pm EDT

Today, we’re unveiling a new Safer Choice label, which will make it easier to find household cleaners and other home products that are safer, more environmentally friendly—and still get the job done. If you missed the video where I shared the new label, check it out here:

The name says it all: Safer Choice products are safer for you, your kids, your pets and the environment. Our scientists employ a stringent set of human health and environmental safety standards when reviewing products for the Safer Choice program, so a product with the label is backed by EPA science. Consumers know it’s a credible stamp they can trust.

read more…

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.

This Year’s Super Bowl Filled 70,000 Plates on the Path to Zero Waste

2015 March 4
Jared Blumenfeld


March 4, 2015
11:21 am EDT

superbowl##

This post is a follow-up to my “AZ I See It” column in the Arizona Republic on January 26, 2015.

This year during the Super Bowl, the first “Kick the Waste” campaign took place at Super Bowl Central—the 12-block area in the heart of downtown Phoenix where thousands enjoyed parties and live music in the week leading up to the championship game. The city was host to quite a party on Superbowl Sunday. Fans gathered for good football and good food, whether they joined in the downtown celebrations, tailgated outside the stadium, or ordered from vendors in the stands.

All too often, what’s not consumed goes to waste. Every year Americans throw away more food than any other type of waste — almost 35 million tons — and much of it is still edible. The “Kick the Waste” campaign — a collaboration between the city of Phoenix, nonprofit food rescue organization Waste Not, the National Football League, the Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee, vendors and fans — worked to make sure that any leftover food was shared with those who needed a good meal, and any waste was disposed of in the most beneficial way for the environment.

read more…

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.

Our Commitment to Scientific Integrity at EPA

2015 March 2
Francesca T. Grifo


March 2, 2015
12:52 pm EDT

As someone who has devoted her career to the advancement of strong, independent science, I am thrilled to announce the release of EPA’s Fiscal Year 2014 Scientific Integrity Annual Report. In the report, we highlight accomplishments and identify areas for improvement and action, exemplifying the Agency’s unwavering commitment to setting and upholding the highest standards of scientific integrity in an open, transparent way.

The Scientific Integrity Annual Report we just released is the latest example of our efforts to continually monitor and share our performance, and take swift action when needed.  Because research provides the foundation for every action the Agency takes to meet our mission to protect human health and safeguard the environment, we are actively cultivating a culture across the Agency and beyond that embraces scientific integrity at all levels. We are working to ensure that every scientist and engineer who works for or in partnership with the Agency conducts investigation that are at once free from conflicts of interest, unburdened by bias or interference, transparent, and present results in fair, accurate, and accessible ways.

read more…

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.

The Clean Power Plan: Protecting Public Health While Safeguarding Affordable, Reliable Electricity

2015 February 25
Tom Reynolds


February 25, 2015
11:58 am EDT

Since the day EPA began working on the Clean Power Plan, we have committed to cutting the carbon pollution causing climate change, while ensuring grid reliability. Misleading claims from a few special-interest critics may try to convince folks otherwise, but we know reliability is a top issue for states, utilities, and energy regulators. And that means it’s a top issue for EPA. As always, we are committed to working with stakeholders to make sure reliability is never threatened.

Last week, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) held the first in a series of technical conferences on electricity reliability to discuss this issue. We appreciated the chance to take part.

As our Acting Assistant Administrator for Air Janet McCabe said, “Over EPA’s long history of developing Clean Air Act pollution standards for the electric power sector, including the proposed Clean Power Plan, the agency has consistently treated electric system reliability as absolutely critical. Because of this attention, at no time in the more than 40 years that EPA has been implementing the Clean Air Act has compliance with air pollution standards resulted in reliability problems.”

We’re going to continue the constructive dialogue we’ve had with states, utilities, energy regulators, and the public as we finalize our proposal this summer to cut carbon pollution from the power sector 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. We worked carefully to make our proposal flexible, offering states and electric generators a wide variety of approaches to meet their pollution reduction goals.

read more…

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.

Another Way to Act on Climate: Getting Smart on Brownfields Reuse

2015 February 25
Mathy Stanislaus


February 25, 2015
9:24 am EDT

For 20 years, the brownfields program has worked with local communities to help support reuse and development of former and current contaminated lands. Cleaning up brownfields has put a lot of land back into use, helping communities and boosting local economies. This work has another huge benefit, too: as we redevelop brownfield sites to significantly reduce the impact of climate change.

In Milwaukee, a 5-mile strip that was once the site of several industrial facilities is going through an extensive cleanup. Over 60,000 tons of contaminated soil and more than 40 underground storage tanks have been removed. One of the community’s ideas for the land’s next use is building a green, linear park, with bike trails to encourage lower-impact forms of transit. The park will use green infrastructure elements to reduce stormwater runoff, protecting local waterways during storms that can be made more intense by 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.

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.

Fighting Climate Change, Starting with Education

2015 February 20
Amber Nave


February 20, 2015
1:50 pm EDT

This is a guest blog by Amber Nave, one of the 2015 Champions of Change for Climate Education and Literacy, who was recently recognized by the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy and Administrator McCarthy for her extraordinary work to enhance climate education and literacy in classrooms and communities across the country.

These awards honor those who are inspiring students, educators, and citizens to learn about climate change and develop solutions, equipping the 21st-century workforce with the information, knowledge, and training needed to make climate-smart decisions and grow businesses in the context of a changing climate.

Read more about her work and her passion for educating the next generation of climate leaders.

Administrator McCarthy meeting with the Champions of Change.

Administrator McCarthy meeting with the Champions of Change.

 

By Amber Nave

Early on, I knew I had a voice and that it had influence. During my youth, I had many opportunities to find my voice and use it with purpose. Whether it was speaking at the historical Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta or hosting a TV segment on Nickelodeon News, I was continually drawn to public speaking and the performing arts to effect change. These formative experiences come to mind as I reflect on my contribution to the field of climate literacy.

I remember growing up in Georgia. We had poor air quality and I suffered from childhood asthma. It wasn’t until I was older that I realized, as a person of color, this disease disproportionately affected me. It became even clearer into adulthood that the effects of climate change would touch my community in ways that were equally unjust. In response, I’ve leveraged my early exposure to the performing arts and public speaking to become a powerful tool for captivating audiences around the subject of climate change.

I began my career working as a radio personality, then found my true purpose: empowering youth to find their own powerful voices. Armed with a fresh vocation, I started my own company traveling across the country doing motivational speaking and goal-setting workshops for organizations like Boys and Girls Club of America, CNN, and local school districts.

In 2011, I found my current home with Alliance for Climate Education (ACE), the premier youth climate education organization in the country. ACE understands that young people have the most to lose when it comes to climate change and the most to gain by fighting it. My public speaking and performance art talents were immediately put to use as I began to deliver ACE’s live in-school assembly that combines climate science with pop-culture entertainment. Since 2008, nearly two million students have been educated with this tool.

After the assembly, we give every young person a chance to take action. For some, it’s a small lifestyle change. For others, it’s a chance to participate at a deep level through our yearlong Fellowship program.

My Action Fellows receive special training in media, storytelling and the performing arts. The product of this work has been extraordinary. Some recent examples include one of my top leaders, Lauren, testifying at EPA in support of a strong Clean Power Plan proposed rule, or the inspirational “Planet Savers” anthem, a youth-written and performed song.

I was honored to receive the Champions for Change Award for Climate Education and Literacy. The award serves as a powerful reminder that this work has not gone unnoticed. I’m thankful to EPA and President Obama for their strong commitment to climate education for all.

Our student leaders were star struck this week when Administrator McCarthy made an appearance at a student climate education roundtable hosted by the White House. They were thrilled to have the opportunity to brainstorm with Administrator McCarthy regarding the best ways to engage their generation on climate change. This type of collaboration was recognized as a strong commitment by the Administration in giving youth an equal seat at the table.

Receiving this prestigious award and meeting Administrator McCarthy has reignited my drive to empower teenagers to fight climate change, starting with education.

Administrator McCarthy meets with students during the climate education roundtable.

Administrator McCarthy meets with students during the climate education roundtable.

 

About the author: Amber Nave, Georgia Program Manager, Alliance for Climate Education, Atlanta, GA. Amber Nave serves as the Georgia Program Manager for the Alliance for Climate Education (ACE). Through her work, Amber educates high-school students about climate science and inspires them to take action to combat climate change.  To date, Amber has educated more than 45,000 students in the State of Georgia and managed over 75 climate action projects on the campuses of local middle and high schools.  Amber co-managed the Youth Digital Media and Storytelling Hub at the 2013 National Powershift Conference, facilitated a Youth Media Training on climate solutions at the CNN headquarters in Atlanta, and coordinated a youth letter writing campaign in support of climate action.  In 2014, she and students from Dekalb School of the Arts produced an inspiring song called “Planet Savers,” which not only empowered students at their school to take action, but has also inspired thousands of students at ACE Assemblies nationwide.

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.

U.S. Lessons Help Inform Chinese Policies to Improve Air Quality

2015 February 18
Ethan G. Shenkman


February 18, 2015
2:35 pm EDT

As I stepped off the plane in Beijing, I immediately recognized the environmental challenges facing China today. The air quality during our visit ranged at times between “very unhealthy” and “hazardous”; at its worst, we could not see the tops of buildings in downtown Beijing shrouded in smog. We are reminded that many years ago we faced similar challenges in some cities in the U.S., before we took a comprehensive approach to environmental protection.

My colleague Steve Wolfson and I traveled to Beijing as part of the 19th Annual U.S.-China Legal Exchange sponsored by the U.S. Department of Commerce, January 13-15, 2015. Our task was to address legal tools for improving air quality, and the importance of transparency and public participation in implementing and enforcing environmental laws.

Drawing on our experience in the U.S., we highlighted how environmental protection need not come at the expense of economic growth — and indeed how environmental policies can be a driver for a healthy and sustainable economy.  And we emphasized the critical need for public access to clear and accurate environmental data, as well as public access to a fair and even-handed court system, as pillars of sound environmental governance.

The response we got back was resounding.  During our trip we met with our counterparts from the Chinese Ministry of Environmental Protection, as well as the National Development and Reform Commission, Ministry of Commerce, Supreme People’s Court, and other government agencies. We also engaged in lively discussions with representatives of several of China’s leading universities and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), as well as with the U.S. business community.  In every forum we heard common themes: the urgent need for China to continue to develop an effective environmental law regime, and the critical importance of effective implementation and enforcement mechanisms, all in support of a strong desire by China to maximize its efforts to tackle its pressing environmental challenges and embark on a sustainable path that integrates economic growth, environmental protection, and public health.  We also witnessed a genuine eagerness to draw lessons from the successes that the U.S. and other countries have achieved implementing environmental laws that have significantly reduced pollution levels.

These issues were particularly timely as China is in the process of reforming and improving its environmental legal framework.  The revisions to China’s framework Environmental Protection Law (EPL) enacted in April 2014 and taking effect on January 1, 2015, constitute one important milestone in this legal reform effort. A key provision of the revised EPL authorizes registered social organizations to bring environmental lawsuits in the public interest against polluters, potentially opening the door for civil society organizations to play a crucial role in addressing China’s environmental challenges.

The Chinese government recently issued interpretive guidance on implementation of these provisions, clarifying how to handle these cases and providing important encouragement for courts to accept more of them.  Already there are signs that Chinese NGOs and courts are employing this new legal tool.  This month an environmental public interest lawsuit filed by Chinese NGOs Friends of Nature and Fujian Green Home was accepted for consideration by the court in Fujian Province.   During our visit we heard about additional NGO cases soon to be filed.  The environmental community in China hopes that these provisions will help leverage the growing anti-pollution sentiment in China’s civil society to supplement governmental efforts to control pollution.

This provision is not the only important legal reform.  Additional provisions are designed to enhance environmental accountability in China, including requirements for public disclosure of pollutant releases, enhanced penalties for violations of environmental laws, and strengthened mechanisms for holding government officials responsible for achieving environmental objectives.  The hope is that legal reform will help develop a system of sound environmental governance, including widespread public access to environmental data, stakeholder engagement in decision-making, and multiple channels of accountability, including access to fair and transparent dispute resolution mechanisms.

China’s air pollution problems have triggered substantial efforts to improve laws and regulations in order to control emissions, an effort which EPA has worked to assist.  Improving environmental governance in China can help move towards a level playing field for U.S. businesses competing with Chinese firms, including those who are doing business in China.  For these reasons, cooperation on environmental law and governance is a key part of EPA’s overall cooperative engagement with China.

At every turn, I was impressed with the dedication, thoughtfulness, and energy of China’s environmental experts, particularly our counterparts in the Law and Policy Department of their Ministry of Environmental Protection, as well as their openness and genuine desire for information on successful cost-effective strategies for pollution prevention and control. Fortified with first-hand knowledge of the many inspiring individuals we met, and with blue skies dramatically appearing on the last day or our trip, we left China with a sense of hope for this critically important undertaking.

About the author: Ethan G. Shenkman is EPA’s Deputy General Counsel.  He was previously with the US Department of Justice, Environment and Natural Resources Division (ENRD), where he served as Deputy
Assistant Attorney General from 2010 until May 2014.

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.

Greening the Game

2015 February 12
Janet McCabe

Mathy Stanislaus

and
February 12, 2015
3:22 pm EDT

Millions of Americans across the country tuned into the big game a couple weeks ago, which was played for the first time under energy-efficient LED lighting. Why the switch? These lights use at least 75 percent less power than incandescent, saving the venue money on its energy bill and energy, which helps reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions.

The NFL isn’t alone in its journey to fight climate change by becoming more sustainable. Last week we highlighted a number of leading sports teams, organizations, and venues across the industry who are taking action, including our work with greening collegiate sports though the Game Day Recycling Challenge and the collegiate sports sustainability summit. Recycling conserves vital resources, saves energy, and, in 2012, reduced greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to taking 33 million cars off the road for a year. Recycling also creates green jobs and provides essential resources. And during her recent visit to the X Games in Colorado, our Administrator Gina McCarthy, heard first-hand from athletes and the businesses that support them how they are working to protect their winters from 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.

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.