Monthly Archives: June 2013

Saving Money Before it Goes Down the Drain

How much can you save by looking for the ENERGY STAR?

By Steve Ryan

Water heating is the second highest source of energy usage in your home, and no matter what the season, hot water is a necessity.  The average water heater lasts about 13 years, but many water heaters are in use past their life expectancy. Nearly 2.5 [1] million water heaters will fail this year, leaving their owners without hot water (and with wet basements). By being proactive, and replacing your water heater before it fails, you’ll have more options. And you’ll avoid cleaning up a flood in your basement.

If you need to replace your current gas or electric water heater or are planning for an upgrade, you should choose a water heating system that not only provides enough hot water, but does so without wasting energy. Look for an ENERGY STAR certified water heater to save energy and money, while also reducing your carbon footprint.

For example, if you replace your old electric storage water heater with an ENERGY STAR model, the annual savings range from $290 for the average household to $670 for a family of six (see graph).  Even with the extra costs for a heat pump water heater (HPWH), which average about $850 (including insulation), you will still see fast savings.

  • For the average household, an ENERGY STAR HPWH pays back in 3 years and saves $2,050 over its 10-year lifespan.
  • For a six-member family, an ENERGY STAR HPWH pays back in 1.3 years and saves $5,850 over its 10-year lifespan.

If you are in the market for a new water heater, check and see if your utility is offering rebates.  For example, Mass Save, an initiative sponsored by Massachusetts’ gas and electric utilities and energy efficiency service providers, currently offers a $1,000 rebate for ENERGY STAR certified heat pump water heaters.  This one purchase can go a long way in terms of saving on your energy bills and taking action against climate change. Just think–if every appliance purchased in the United States this year earned the ENERGY STAR, we would prevent greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to the emissions from 420,000 cars.

Steve Ryan started working for the Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR Program in 1999.  He currently manages a national campaign to promote power management called “The Low Carbon IT Campaign.”  For more information and to  get step by step instructions on how to put your computer into low power mode, go to http://www.energystar.gov/powermanagement.

 


[1] ENERGY STAR Water Heater Market Profile, U.S. DOE, September 2010. 8 million sold in 2009 (p. 2).  82% replacement, 65% replacements are unit failure, 60% of unit failures are emergencies. (p. 21).  Doing the math, we get 8 million*.82*.65*.6 = 2.5 million.

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Sofrito… ¡Una forma de preserver vegetales y añadir sabor a su comida!

Una amiga estaba hablando acerca de cuánto lamenta comprar vegetales y que luego se dañen por no comerlos a tiempo. Como buena puertorriqueña, no pude evitar hablar acerca de cómo siempre utilizo todos mis vegetales haciendo “sofrito” – una mezcla de condimentos y vegetales usada como base de muchos platos.

¡El sofrito puede ser añadido a sopas, guisos, arroces y más; añadiendo así toneladas de sabor! Puede ser refrigerado o congelado para asegurarse tenerlo siempre que quiera cocinar una deliciosa comida, aun cuando ciertos vegetales estén fuera de temporada.

El sofrito no es solo una buena forma de preservar los vegetales, también evita que comida sea desechada en vertederos. Esto es importante ya que tan solo en el año 2010, ¡cerca de 35 millones de toneladas de desechos de comida fueron generados en los Estados Unidos! De ellos, el 97% fue arrojado a vertederos o incineradores! Cuando los desechos de comida se descomponen en los vertederos, estos generan metano, un potente gas de efecto de invernadero. Más aun, 13%  de las emisiones en Estados Unidos están asociadas con alimentos. Cuando la desperdiciamos, también estamos desperdiciando todos los recursos empleados en su producción y distribución. Así que el sofrito no es solo sabroso, hacerlo con los vegetales que están pronto a dañarse puede contribuir a salvar el planeta. 062713 Foto Veggie1#

¡Haga su propio sofrito! Todo lo que necesita (para 4 tazas) es:

·         3 pimientos verdes, en trozos y sin semillas

·         1 pimiento rojo, en trozos y sin semillas

·         8 ajíes dulces, sin semillas1

·         2 cebollas medianas, en trozos

·         2 cabezas de ajos, pelados

·         1 ramo de cilantro

·         12 hojas de culantro or recao1

·         sal y pimienta, a gusto (opcional)

Añada todos los ingredients en la licuadora o procesador de alimentos y voila. ¡Ahí tiene la base para una deliciosa salsa, sopa o guiso! Intente congelarlos en moldes de hielo para tener porciones listas para usar. Otra idea es hacer una base con ingrediente más italianos como tomates, cebollas, albahaca, perejil, ajo y orégano.

062713 Foto Blog 2 New ImageRecuerde que el hacer sofrito le permite ahorrar dinero, preservar sus vegetales, y tener sus ingredientes disponibles para hacer una deliciosa comida. Y, ¡también ayuda a reducir desperdicios de comida! Vea otras ideas para reducir los desperdicios.

Nota: Culantro y ajíes dulces pueden ser omitidos.

Acerca de la autora:

Lilybeth Colón es una ingeniera ambiental de Oficina de Conservación y Recuperación de Recursos. Le encanta cocinar. Le gusta probar nuevas recetas y usar sus talentos culinarios explorando maneras creativas en la cocina para crear sus propias recetas.


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Reaching New Audiences With an Environmental Justice Message

By Rebecca Bratspies

Environmental Justice, I bet you don’t even know what that means…I had no idea that it actually affects every one of us. That is, until it came to my home.”

Untitled-2So begins Mayah’s Lot, the environmental justice comic book produced by my new research center—the CUNY Center for Urban Environmental Reform (CUER).  I founded CUER in 2011 to connect my scholarly environmental writings with public service to my urban community in New York City. CUER promotes environmental democracy as a critical aspect of social justice, and supports communities seeking to participate in environmental decisions that affect them.

With support from the CUNY Law School Innovation Fund, we began looking for non-traditional ways to bring environmental messages to a generation steeped in highly visual and interactive ways of learning.  I especially wanted a message that would resonate with my very urban daughter and her friends—many of whom think of “the environment” as existing elsewhere, rather than where they live and learn. Our first project is Mayah’s Lot—an environmental justice comic book and video animated by Norman Dillon of Mothermin­d Studios. You can download the comic book here, or watch the video here.

With Mayah’s Lot, we want to create an accessible learning tool for young readers and also to reach non-traditional audiences with an environmental justice message. We collaborated with graphic artist Charlie LaGreca of Comicbook Classroom and a group of middle-school students in Queens, NY, to develop a beautifully-illustrated comic book.  Mayah’s Lot stands alone as a storybook, but it also provides valuable environmental justice lessons. Readers learn alongside Mayah, the young heroine, as she organizes her neighborhood to prevent a hazardous waste facility from coming into her already overburdened community.

With support from CUNY Law, the Forest Service and the Greening Western Queens Fund, we are developing lesson plans for a range of grade levels that work with the Core Curriculum and are suitable for classroom adoption.  These materials will be available from the CUER website.  If you use them—and we hope you do—we ask that you let us know what you used and give us feedback on how it went.

Untitled-1

In fact, throughout this month, I have been using Mayah’s Lot in educational workshops with about 100 fifth graders at PS85 in Astoria, Queens and 120 sixth graders at PS122. Using a curriculum built around Mayah’s Lot, Charlie and I have worked with these students to cultivate their understanding of environmental law and environmental justice. We help them identify environmental problems in their neighborhoods and then the students create their own environmental justice comic book. The response from students so far has been terrific!

“It was amazing to see how engaged our students were using academic skills to tackle a real-world problem,” said Dimitria Kamaris, a teacher at PS122. “We strive to have our students personally invested in their own education, and through Mayah’s Lot and its curriculum, we’ve been able to do just that.”

About the author: Rebecca Bratspies, Professor, joined the faculty of CUNY Law in 2004. Her teaching and scholarly research focus on environmental and public international law, with a particular emphasis on how legal systems govern the global commons and how law can further sustainable development. Professor Bratspies spent a year seconded to the Republic of China (Taiwan) Environmental Protection Administration. Upon her return to the United States, she was a litigation associate with Dechert, Price and Rhoads where she worked with civil rights groups to bring two victorious class action suits challenging Pennsylvania’s implementation of welfare reform.

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Sofrito… Preserving Vegetables While Adding Flavor To Your Meals!

By Lilybeth Colon

A friend was talking about how she hates it when she buys too many vegetables and they go bad because she doesn’t eat them fast enough. As a good Puerto Rican, I couldn’t help telling her about how I always use all my veggies by making “Sofrito” – a mix of veggies and herbs used as a base to many of our dishes. Sofrito can be added to soups, stews, rice, beans, you name it, and it adds tons of flavors! It can be made at the moment or frozen or refrigerated so that you have them every time you want to cook a delicious meal, even when the veggies are off-season.

Not only is sofrito a great way to preserve your veggies, but it helps to prevent wasted food going into landfills. This is important since in 2010 alone, around 35 million tons of food waste was generated in the U.S.! Of that, 97 percent was thrown away into landfills or incinerators! When food decomposes in landfills, it generates methane, a potent greenhouse gas. On top of that, 13% of the U.S.’s greenhouse gas emissions are associated with food. When we waste it, it also wastes all of the resources that went into growing and distributing it. So not only is sofrito flavorful, making it with your soon-to-go bad veggies can help to save the planet!

Make your own! All you need is: (makes 4 cups)

  • 3 cubanelle or green bell peppers, seeded and chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 8 ajices dulces peppers, seeded1
  • 2 medium onions, cut into large chunks
  • 2 medium heads garlic, peeled
  • 1 bunch of cilantro
  • 12 leaves culantro or recao1
  •   Salt (optional)

Put them together in your food processor or blender and voila! There’s a base for a delicious salsa, soup or stew! Try freezing it in ice cube trays to make it really easy to use in the future. Another idea is to make a more Italian base with tomatoes, parsley, onions, garlic and oregano.

Remember, making sofrito allows you to save money, preserve your veggies, and have them readily available to make delicious foods. And, it helps reduce food waste! Check out other food waste reduction tips.

About the author: Lilybeth Colón is an environmental engineer in the EPA’s Office of Resource Conservation and Recovery, and is an avid cooker. She loves trying new recipes, but often finds herself being creative in the kitchen making up her own recipes.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Think Before You Toss

By Tom Damm

Aside from the occasional crew mate whose stomach can’t handle the high waves, there’s one sight that’s particularly troubling to EPA researchers sampling our coastal waters – garbage and other man-made debris bobbing along in the current.

Marine debris

Credit: Ocean Conservancy

Renee Searfoss, the EPA’s Mid-Atlantic Ocean and Dredge Disposal Team Lead, says marine debris – plastic bags, bottles, cans and other items – presents a real problem.  It can have impacts on health, the environment – even our economy, but it takes a special toll on marine life.

Marine life such as turtles and birds – and the fish we catch and eat – mistake this trash for food.  They ingest the debris and it impacts their digestive systems.

Renee says her teams have picked up very tiny pieces of debris, which can pose more of a threat to marine species than larger ones since they’re easier to ingest and cause a slow death or allow toxins to build in the animals’ systems.

Most of this harmful trash begins its journey on land and enters the ocean through our local streams and rivers.  You can help ease the problem by properly disposing of trash and by recycling plastic bottles, bags and cans.

In a new EPA video filmed on the water, Renee says, “There aren’t a lot of creatures out here that can really defend against anything we throw in the oceans at them.”

June is National Oceans Month – a time to be especially aware of how and where we toss our garbage.

About the Author: Tom Damm has been with EPA since 2002 and now serves as communications coordinator for the region’s Water Protection Division.

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EPA Scientists Presented Open Science at White House

By Tina Bahadori

From weather forecasts, air quality advisories, and portable GPS navigation devices, to waterfowl migration, and the mapping of the human genome, the use of government and government-supported science and data have vastly improved our lives. They have also sparked countless new private businesses and industries leading to economic growth and opportunity for innovators and entrepreneurs in every region of the country.

Recognizing the power and potential of such Open Science, on June 20, 2013 the White House invited four EPA scientists—Drs. Richard Judson, Keith Houck, Matt Martin, and Ann Richard—to present research posters describing their efforts to provide public access to massive amounts of data from chemical safety studies. The scientists presented their posters after the White House’s “Champions of Change” award ceremony. The award ceremony recognized 13 Champions of Change for their efforts to provide the public access to innovative science.

In addition to the 13 Champions of Change, the White House selected 12 scientists (including the EPA researchers) to present posters describing their vision and commitment to Open Science.

EPA scientists at the White House poster session.

EPA scientists Ann Richard and Matt Martin at the White House poster session.

The select group of 25 was chosen from hundreds of nominations submitted to the White House’s request for innovative Open Science leaders. The White House event highlighted outstanding individuals, organizations, and research projects promoting and using open scientific data and publications to accelerate progress.

To exemplify Open Science work, the four EPA scientists presented how they are using advances in computational toxicology to provide open and accessible chemical safety data to help better protect human health and the environment. Each of the EPA scientists are working to harness the power of computer science and innovative new chemical safety assessment methods and tools to provide open, transparent public access to chemical information. For example:

  • Dr. Matt Martin leads a team of Agency scientists and partners who developed the Toxicity Reference database (ToxRefDB). ToxRefDB contains 30 years and $2 billion worth of pesticide registration studies. The database allows scientists and others to search and download thousands of toxicity testing results on hundreds of chemicals that were previously only available on paper or microfiche.
  • Dr. Ann Richard is the leader behind another open, accessible database, the Distributed Structure-Searchable Toxicity Database (DSSTox). DSSTox provides open-access to information on the physical and structural properties of chemicals and links this information to toxicity potential. This is key information for assessing the potential risk of chemicals to human health and the environment.
  • Dr. Richard Judson leads a team of scientists who developed the Aggregated Computational Toxicology online Resource (ACToR). ACToR is EPA’s online warehouse of all publicly available chemical data aggregated from more than 1,000 public sources on more than half a million chemicals. ACToR can be used to query a specific chemical and find available public hazard, exposure, and risk assessment data as well as previously unpublished studies related to cancer, reproductive, and developmental toxicity.
  • Dr. Keith Houck is the driving force behind EPA’s Toxicity Forecaster (ToxCast), a research program advancing the use of automated, rapid chemical tests (called “high-throughput screening assays”) to screen thousands of chemicals in more than 650 assays for toxicity potential. This includes the development of the ToxCast Database (ToxCastDB) which provides publicly accessible, searchable, and downloadable access to all the screening data generated by ToxCast.

These four scientists have led the effort to democratize access to knowledge and information and level the playing field for all those involved and interested in protecting public health and the environment. By doing so, they exemplify the spirit of Open Science celebrated by President Obama’s Champions of Change program.

About the Author: Tina Bahadori, Sc.D. is the National Program Director for EPA’s Chemical Safety for Sustainability research program.  Learn more about her on EPA’s Science Matters: Meet our Scientists web page.

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Why I Wanted to Intern for the Office of Water Communication’s Team

Several links below exit EPA Exit EPA Disclaimer

By Danielle Nichols

The multitude of internships available to college students can feel overwhelming. How does one narrow down thousands of opportunities into a few applications and further into one acceptance? Fortunately for me, this process was simple; I knew I wanted to intern for the Office of Water Communication’s team.

As an Environmental Science major at William Paterson University, I focus most of my coursework on water related subjects. I became interested in the government’s role in protecting both the water of its country’s ecosystems and its potable sources for its citizens. Last summer, I further explored these topics when studying abroad at Cambridge University. I researched the various types of governmental and constitutional protections nations use to ensure their citizen’s access to clean and safe drinking water.

This experience reinforced the necessity of protecting a nation’s water supply and its interconnectivity to other societal concerns. Without access to clean, safe and affordable water, citizens are unable to fully participate in a democratic society.

Although I felt informed on these issues, I knew that many of my peers were not. When speaking to other students about drinking water, most thought that tap water was unsafe because it was inexpensive and easily accessible. Even many of my fellow environmental science majors, whom have taken hydrology courses, doubted the quality of their tap water! As president of our campus’ environmental science club, I decided that these misconceptions must be addressed.

Last year, our club began working with the Food & Water Watch on their Take Back the Tap campaign. Our main goal is to inform students how to access municipal water quality reports, encourage students to use refillable water bottles and to get more water refill stations on campus. Through the efforts of our campaign team, more students are learning about their tap, using reusable bottles and demanding more water refill stations.

Since I was familiar with the Office of Water’s Bring Back the Water Fountain program and its relation to my campus’ campaign, I knew that this internship would help me to more effectively communicate information about tap water to my peers. As a new intern, I am grateful for this opportunity and look forward to learning more about working for the Office of Water’s communications team.

About the author: Danielle Nichols is a rising senior at William Paterson University majoring in environmental science with an honors concentration in life science and environmental ethics and a minor in political science.  Outside of academic work, she enjoys organizing several environmental campaigns on campus.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Song of the Cicada

(Part two of a series on cicadas)

By Marcia Anderson

Cicadas on Staten Island

Cicadas on Staten Island

Billions of flying bugs known as cicadas are currently sweeping over the East Coast. What were you doing in June of 1996?  Do you remember the terrible sound they made? Cicadas are a true marvel of nature and one that should be enjoyed whenever possible. Once it starts, the emergence typically lasts only four to six weeks: long enough for the males to sing their mating song, the cicadas to mate, the females to lay their eggs, and then they all die, leaving their 2-inch corpses for us to clean up.

The song of the cicada was used to signify summer in Japanese cinematography. Standing near an especially loud chorus of cicadas can be like standing near a motorcycle, with a racket reaching up to 100 decibels. Because cicadas produce extremely loud noises while requiring very little power, they are being studied by the U.S. Navy. They are of particular interest in naval sonar research related to underwater exploration and communication.

How do the cicadas make that sound? First, only male cicadas make the sound. Males have organs that resemble drum-like plates, called tymbals, on both sides of their abdomen. The cicada moves his muscles to pop the tymbals in and out, which creates the sound we hear. These chirping and clicking noises can be heard by females up to a mile away.

The naval research facility in Newport, Rhode Island uses microcomputer tomography to image a cicada’s tymbal. This is like a CT scan that picks up details as small as a micron in size. The tymbal is made of a thin membrane connecting thicker sections known as ribs, each of which is thinner than a human hair. According to researchers, the male cicada pulls all the tymbal ribs inward and together. The ribs make a short, sharp noise when they draw together and again when they snap apart. The cicada repeats the action 300 to 400 times per second, creating the characteristic deafening chirp. Producing noise in this way is unusual in the insect world. For example, crickets, locusts, and katydids rub their legs to create their chirps.

Interestingly, the cicada’s left and right tymbals can act like two speakers that produce sound waves that combine. Imagine two water waves in the ocean, generated by separate storms converging toward each other. Where the peaks of the two waves perfectly overlap, they add together and spike much higher than the peak of either wave alone. We call this very large wave a rogue wave, which is known to have sunken many an unsuspecting ship in the deep sea. Similarly, if the waves are sound waves traveling through the air, the peaks would be spots where the volume is very high. The cicadas may use this effect to pump their volume to very high levels without expending as much energy as if a single tymbal had to do it alone.

Children and adults can experience this phenomenon by catching a male cicada and then gently closing their hands around it to feel the vibrations emitted by its chirping.

Warning: During cicada season they may land on you if you’re using a power tool or lawn mower. Why? Cicadas think the sounds made by power tools and lawn maintenance equipment are made by other cicadas. They get confused and will land on the people using the equipment! So either cut your lawn in the early morning or near dusk when the cicadas are less active, or let the grass grow a little longer for a few weeks.

For more cicada information:    The scientific name for these cicadas is Magicicada. The National Geographic Society supports the Magicicada website: http://cicadiamania.com.

About the Author: Marcia is the bed bug and vector management specialist for the Pesticides Program in Edison. She has a BS in Biology from Monmouth, second degree in Environmental Design-Landscape Architecture from Rutgers, Masters in Instruction and Curriculum from Kean, and is a PhD in Environmental Management candidate from Montclair – specializing in Integrated Pest Management and Environmental Communications. Prior to EPA, and concurrently, she has been a professor of Earth and Environmental Studies, Geology and Oceanography at Kean University for 14 years.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Strengthening Opportunities for Rural Communities to Cleanup and Redevelop Brownfields

By Mathy Stanislaus

The Brownfields program creates benefits for local communities including: leveraging job creation, increasing residential property values, and supporting community revitalization and economic redevelopment. Many communities invest time and resources for the opportunity to receive Brownfield grant funding.

Looking at the Brownfield grant competition, I recognize it’s hard for many rural communities to compete for resources because they often don’t have the capacity to compete like larger communities.

Following up from recent meetings I had with State leaders in Regions 6 and 7 (where they raised concerns about our ability to deliver Brownfields resources to rural communities) I went to Nebraska to meet with 35-40 representatives from rural towns in Nebraska and western Iowa in an open forum. This continued my effort to reach out to rural stakeholders and ask how the Brownfields program can better provide tools to help convert their brownfield sites to cleanup and redevelopment opportunities.

During the meeting there were a number of suggestions that include providing targeted technical assistance to rural communities to assess sites to advance redevelopment opportunities; looking at how our grant competition can provide a more targeted competition allowing rural communities (in particular communities under 20,000) to compete at the same level as larger communities; delivering more resources through state environmental response programs to better assist rural communities.

Another idea raised was to align our TAB (Technical Assistance to Brownfields) resources with the USDA rural assistance program to integrate our resources to better deliver assistance. We talked about manufacturing opportunities in rural America and how that’s an under-appreciated and valuable opportunity to create local jobs.

I left the meeting excited by the great suggestions to better provide resources for them to expeditiously move forward on projects. There was a sincere desire from folks working hard to rebuild their communities. I was very impressed with their level of energy, commitment and sincerity. I was impressed with their commitment to collaborate among adjacent rural towns to take a collaboration-based approach to economic development.

I look forward to continuing the conversation with these communities and turning these suggestions into reality. An immediate next step is to summarize potential options, seek further input and help schedule workshops led by our TAB providers for communities with the Brownfields resources application process. We will circulate and post on our website the tools our TAB grantees developed to strengthen efforts to connect TAB grantees with local community leaders and groups.

About the author: Mathy Stanislaus is assistant administrator for EPA’s Office Solid Waste and Emergency Response.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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“Hacking at a Stereotype”

Several links below exit EPA Exit EPA Disclaimer

By Sam Bronson

If you think the phrase “civic hacking” sounds like an oxymoron, you’re not alone. For a generation, Hollywood films and the work of a few high-profile cybercriminals shaped the popular definition of “hacking,” and not for the good. Fortunately for us, a lot has changed since then: the birth of social media and crowdsourcing, the acceptance of open data, and, dare I say, the transformation of the computer programmer from geek to hero. Too soon?

But, while the “black hats” of hacking still exist, the term “hacker” is being popularly redefined by the movement of civic hacking. Their collective mission is to address social and community issues by developing open technology solutions for a better world. Prior to the weekend of June 1st, however, I still didn’t “get it.” Not really.

When I first heard about the National Day of Civic Hacking, a colleague (Bill Muldrow) and I thought it sounded like a great opportunity to promote EPA data. “Wouldn’t it be nice to have some non-government developers working with us to promote environmentalism,” we mused.

So, we crafted the EPA Safe Drinking Water App Challenge, inviting participants to develop apps that might bring more awareness to an important issue. We narrowly-defined the challenge and created data resource guides in hopes of enticing civic hackers to look at EPA data and the Envirofacts Application Programming Interface (API).
Then, something happened that completely changed my perspective. As I introduced myself to a group of developers at the Baltimore Hackathon on the morning of June 1st, their first response was to thank me; to thank us – the EPA – for making our data public and for embracing their cause. I heard similar comments throughout the day, until I finally realized that I wasn’t there trying to get developers to work with the EPA. Rather, they were there, trying to get me, and so many others, to join them in the cause of civic hacking.

At least four teams in four different cities ended up working on the EPA Challenge, with a Philadelphia team taking second place at their event. Yes, they appreciated the narrow focus of our challenge, our API, and all the detailed data resources we provided. But, we were just lucky to be a part of something greater. Thousands of other hackers, in over 83 cities, also came together for the National Day of Civic Hacking, tackling mostly local challenges with an impressive collection of APIs and datasets.

Led by organizations like Code for America and Random Hacks of Kindness, civic hacking is a movement. And, while civic hackers may seem to be a relatively small group, in the new world of big data, make no mistake that they have an exponential power to effect change. They’re just waiting on the government to join them.

About the author: Sam Bronson joined EPA in 2009 as an analyst, to work on policies and projects related to mobile apps, Web analytics, and public access to data. He currently manages EPA’s Web Analytics Program.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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