EPA: Launching a New Era of State, Tribal, Local and International Partnerships

Our work with state, tribal, local and international partners forms an “environmental enterprise” that is critical to advancing environmental and human health protection across the country and the globe.  As captured in our FY14-FY18 Strategic Plan, our New Era of State, Tribal, Local and International Partnerships is a vital pillar among our Cross-Agency Strategies. I thank everyone at EPA for working in collaboration with our partners – governors, tribal leaders, environmental and agricultural commissioners, city and county leaders, and so many others. This spring, I asked EPA employees to share their best practices, innovative solutions and successes in building partnerships. There are so many successes I learned about, ranging from the routine to multi-faceted and complicated matters.  Here are a handful of successes that I’d like to highlight.

State, Local and Other Partners Protecting School Indoor Air Quality group#– Nearly 56 million people spend their days inside elementary and secondary schools in the US. Since the mid-1990s, EPA’s Indoor Environments Division (IED) has supported states, schools and school districts in their work to improve indoor air quality in schools and protect the health of their students and staff.

In 2012, the IED schools team launched the School Health and Indoor Environments Leadership Development (SHIELD) Network, a dynamic collaboration of more than 80 leaders from school districts, state and local governments and other partners committed to improving IAQ in schools. SHIELD events have resulted in thousands of school district decision makers trained to make their school indoor environments healthier, cleaner and safer places.

International Partnership for a Cleaner Environment

man#The Asia-Pacific is the world’s fastest-growing region. EPA’s Office of Research and Development (ORD), Office of International and Tribal Affairs (OITA) and the Office of Air and Radiation (OAR) are partnering with China’s Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) to address high priority global research needs. Together, they identified seven focus areas, including water resources, air quality and climate issues.

One project leverages work with the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves (GACC) and with the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) to develop international testing protocols and standards for cookstoves, a source of household air pollution in parts of the world. These standards will contribute to cleaner and more efficient cookstoves with reduced impacts on air quality, climate and health. Another project uses an EPA-developed real-time monitoring technology to reduce emissions of hazardous air pollutants from waste combustion.

State and EPA Partnership to Increase Productivity

pesticidesStates’ pesticide program directors working through their Association of American Pesticide Control Officials, EPA Regions, the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance (OECA) and the Office of Pesticide Programs (OPP) united to bring the jobs of state and federal pesticides inspectors into the 21st Century.

Pesticide labels provide important information on the proper and safe use of a pesticide. Enforcement officers are sent into the marketplace to inspect labels to ensure that products are properly labeled. The Pesticides Label Matching Project proposes to develop software for smart phones and tablets to take images of pesticide product labels in the field and then electronically compare them to the master labels in OPP databases, avoiding manual review. A recent cost benefit analysis of this project projects a cost reduction of from $476/label review to $79/label review. That’s a reduction of approximately 83%!

Hazardous Waste Training for Tribes

mantruck#An EPA Hazardous Waste grant to the Eight Northern Indian Pueblos Council, representing and serving 21 New Mexico pueblos and tribes, and the Ysleta de Sur Pueblo in Texas, is helping the Council fill a gap in their environmental and public health program. Because many tribes and pueblos are hours away from technical assistance and major disposal facilities, hazardous waste is a top environmental and health concern.

This grant will assist the Council by providing local 8-hour Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response training to tribal employees, educating them about the treatment, storage and disposal of household hazardous waste, developing a spill prevention and response plan, and responding to small hazardous waste incidents. The employees will, in turn, educate their communities about household hazardous waste and safer alternatives.

Developing and Implementing a Zero Waste Plan

guamzerowasteplan#EPA Region 9, together with the Guam Governor’s Office, Guam EPA, the Department of Defense and community members, worked to develop and implement Sustainable Materials Management through Guam’s Zero Waste Plan, with short, mid and long-term action items.

Among many results of Guam’s Zero Waste Plan, Guam’s recycling rate went from 18% to 32% in just two years and tons recycled and composted rose from 29,039/year to 41,032/year. The Zero Waste Plan has become a model for other Pacific Islands and can be used to advance zero waste and sustainability partnerships on islands and in remote and underserved communities.

As you can see from these examples, stronger partnerships, closer coordination and innovation across all government levels that we can strengthen environmental protection and achieve a healthier environment for all.

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