Student Intern Looks to Make a Big Difference at EPA This Summer

Every summer, EPA brings in students to work, learn practical environmental skills, and enhance their educational experience through our Pathways Intern Program. The Big Blue Thread is proud to feature several blogs written by these summer interns, focusing on what motivates them to work in the environmental sector and what attracted them to EPA. Our first blog is by Andrew Speckin, who is lending his skills in our Clean Water Program.

By Andrew Speckin

I’m moving into my junior year at the University of Kansas, pursuing a double major in accounting and information systems technology, which is simply a term to describe the use of analytics for business purposes. In today’s workplace, there is a new phenomenon called “Big Data.” It seems that every company or organization is using some form of Big Data, including EPA.

The Agency uses data in many areas: to compare water or air quality assessments from different time periods and regions, to spot trends in ever-changing river levels, to have a better understanding of the precursors that lead to flooding, to determine how temperature affects our ecosystem, and for countless other challenges.

There’s always room for improvement. Some of the projects I’m working on this summer involve updating and enhancing the data systems currently in place. Improving those systems will allow for better decision making and, in turn, better protection of our environment.

Working for EPA gives me the chance to help safeguard the environment in which I spent so much time growing up as a kid. Being outdoors started at an early age; my father signed me up for the Boy Scouts while I was in kindergarten. I stayed with the Scouts all the way up to my senior year of high school, and eventually was presented the Eagle Scout Award.

150731 - Speckin Bartle Camp Site

Andrew’s 10-day campsite at Bartle Scout Reservation

During those 12 years, I was able to partake in many diverse outdoor adventures here in the Heartland, such as spelunking in Missouri caves, canoeing down small Missouri Rivers, and participating in a 10-day summer camp at the H. Roe Bartle Scout Reservation. I also went white water rafting in Colorado. Going through Boy Scouts gave me a perspective on how truly complex our ecosystem is, and an understanding that the environment needs to be protected for the health of future generations.

One of the lessons I learned in Boy Scouts was to leave the campground in a better condition than which I found it. If everyone followed that rule in the environment, EPA would have less work to do. Sadly, that is not the case. There’s a lot of work to be done and I’m ready to get started, while hopefully making a difference in the fight to conserve our precious resources.

About the Author: Andrew Speckin is working as a Student Intern this summer at EPA Region 7. One of his main goals in life is to shoot under 100 on 18 holes of golf. Knowing Andrew, we’re sure he’ll achieve that goal, among many others in his life.

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

Implementation of the Clean Water Rule Brings Opportunities

Ken Kopocis Ken Kopocis

When the Clean Water Rule goes into effect on August 28, it marks a new era of protection for our nation’s streams and wetlands. We are enthusiastic about the opportunities provided by the rule to improve the process of identifying waters covered under the Clean Water Act and making jurisdictional determinations and permit decisions more effectively and efficiently. As EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers implement the Clean Water Rule, the agencies will be taking several steps to increase transparency, provide information, and improve the permit process.

Increasing transparency: EPA and the Army Corps will launch a publicly-accessible, online database for all jurisdictional determinations and permits issued under the rule. The database will provide information, for example, on jurisdictional determinations associated with federal permitting programs as well as statistics on the total number, waterbody type, and watershed location. Data regarding the nature and number of pending determinations will also be made publicly available. This database will provide essential transparency needed for effective implementation of the rule.

Responding to information needs: The Clean Water Rule provides clear and comprehensive direction about the process for conducting jurisdictional determinations. Because the rule is so specific, there is no need for any new manuals or guidance documents.  Instead, the agencies will prepare a comprehensive Questions and Answers document that can be routinely supplemented as experience with the rule grows.   As with any new procedures, field staff and the public will have ongoing questions about the rule, and it is important for EPA and the Corps to identify issues and provide answers as the rule takes effect. We will also ensure the public can coordinate with the field staff as new questions arise after the rule goes into effect so that answers can be provided quickly.

Improving the permit process: EPA and the Army Corps will evaluate existing permitting tools and procedures and identify the changes needed to further reduce costs, delays, and frustration in federal permitting, while improving Clean Water Act protections that benefit public health and the environment. The agencies will focus on increasing the availability of information on issued permits, and improving coordination with federal and state permitting partners to reduce overlap and redundancy in permit reviews.

The strong commitment to seizing these opportunities during implementation of the Clean Water Rule was reflected in a memo distributed across the agencies by EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy and Assistant Secretary for the Army (Civil Works) Jo-Ellen Darcy. We will provide updates of our efforts on a regular basis as part of our obligation to implement the rule in an efficient and effective manner.

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

This Week in EPA Science

By Kacey Fitzpatrick

Research Recap graphic identifierLooking for your next summer read? Look no further—catch up on the latest EPA environmental science right here!

Cooking Up Solutions to Climate Change
EPA’s 5th annual Science of Climate Change Workshop program focused on climate science and the impacts of climate change. World-class scientists, engineers, and policy experts demonstrated their research and led hands-on activities to encourage innovative thinking.

Read more about the workshop in the blog Cooking Up Solutions to Climate Change.

Private, Government Collaboration Advances Air Sensor Technology
Researchers from EPA and Aclima Inc., a San Francisco-based technology company, worked together on a pilot project in Denver, Colorado to assemble a real-time view of pollutant levels and meteorological conditions at the street level. The project involved mapping pollutants measured by three Google Street View cars outfitted with Aclima’s mobile platform of air pollution sensors.

The study even got the attention of The Washington Post’s Capital Weather Gang. Read more about the project in the EPA Science Matters story Private, Government Collaboration Advances Air Sensor Technology.

 

Photo of the Week

aclima_google_car

Street View vehicles equipped with air quality sensors clocked 750 hours of drive time and gathered 150 million data points, correlated with data from EPA stationary measurement sites. EPA provided scientific expertise in study design and instrument operations. Image courtesy of Aclima.

 

If you have any comments or questions about what I share or about the week’s events, please submit them below in the comments section!

About the Author: Kacey Fitzpatrick is a student contractor and writer working with the science communication team in EPA’s Office of Research and Development.

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

Summer’s in Full Swing – Get in on the Fun!

Hit the reset button as the beginning of August approaches on Saturday! Spend your weekend outdoors with family and friends at one of these fresh, “green”, and affordable events we’ve got featured here for you. Whether you’re fashion forward and attending the Eco-Fashion Show or practicing Yoga on the Beach, make sure to use our ‘Welcome to the Weekend’ #WTWEPA hashtag on twitter so we can share your adventures!

Friday – July 31, 2015

Hip Hop Dance Aerobics
Brooklyn
Brooklyn Bridge Park
334 Furman Street
Friday, July 31, 2015
7 p.m.

Get your groove on this Friday night at the Brooklyn Bridge Park! This cardio workout in disguise features hip hop music and teachers that break down each movement for participants of all levels. Be sure to get there by 6:30pm to complete registration and note that you must fill out a waiver upon sign-in!

Downtown Sounds
Glen Cove
Glen Cove Village Square
Intersection of Glen and Bridge Streets
Friday, July 31, 2015
7 – 10 p.m.

Get away from the hustle of the city and head out to Glen Cove for their “Downtown Sounds” event! There will be live music and a chance to check out some great restaurants near Village Square.

Manhattan
Museum of the City of New York
1220 Fifth Avenue
Friday, July 31, 2015
11 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Spend your Friday with the kids at the exhibition ‘Saving Place: Fifty Years of New York City Landmarks’. This interactive activity allows for kids to be an architect for the day!  They can draw their own New York City while you explore the museum on a self-guided tour.

Saturday – August 1, 2015

Fundamentals of Composting Workshop
Manhattan
Pleasant Village Community Garden
Saturday, August 1, 2015
10 a.m. – noon

Did you know that a third of our food waste ends up in landfills? If you’re interested in composting and would like to learn how to turn your food scraps into feed for gardens or household plants, this free workshop is right up your alley. Keep in mind that composting can eliminate up to 30 percent of your household food waste from your garbage can! RSVP by emailing pleasantvillagegarden@gmail.com

Open House at Flagship Farm in LIC
Queens
Flagship Farm
37-18 Northern Boulevard
Long Island City
Saturday, August 1, 2015
11 a.m.4 p.m.

Come check out Queens’ very own gigantic rooftop farm this Saturday. Whether you choose to browse the layout, buy some farm-fresh produce, or just enjoy the view – be sure to take it all in! There is no registration necessary for your visit and the open house is free!

Yoga on the Beach
Rockaway Beach
Beach off 108th Street, Off Shorefront Parkway
Saturday, August 1, 2015
8 – 9 a.m.

Grab your friends and join yoga instructor Helen Kilgallen for this free, beginner’s Hatha Yoga class. This early morning class will be a wonderful way to unwind after a busy Friday night. Be sure to bring a mat, large towel, or blanket for your practice.

Sunday – August 2, 2015

Eco Fashion in the Park
Bronx to Manhattan
Highbridge Park (Bridge Area)
Enter by 172nd Street and Amsterdam Ave.
Sunday, August 2, 2015
3:30 – 5 p.m.

This event will guarantee you a very busy Sunday!  Get everyone together and head over to Highbridge Park to witness this first-ever fashion show with a runway that spans over the High Bridge. These eco-friendly fashions will be the star of the day but be sure to check out the clothing swap boutique with drop off beginning at 1 p.m. and the actual swap starting at 5 p.m. as well.

Birds of Prey
Brooklyn
Brooklyn Bridge Park
Sunday, August 2, 2015
11 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Bring the kiddies to Brooklyn Bridge Park on Sunday for a fun few hours of learning!  Join Volunteers for Wildlife as they speak about raptors from 11 a.m. to noon and then join Private Picassos for an outdoor pop-up reading room and art activities.

Bark in the Park
Brooklyn
Municipal Credit Union Park
1904 Surf Ave
Sunday, August 2, 2015
11:30 a.m. – 4 p.m.

The Alliance for NYC’s Animals and the Brooklyn Cyclones host this awesome, fun-filled event for you and your dog! Watch as the Cyclones take on the Batavia Muckdogs at MCU Park (tickets for one person and up to two dogs are $10). If you’d rather play in the park with your pup, don’t fret. Activities outside the stadium begin at noon, which include free photo-ops and free personalized pet tag give-aways.

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

Small Grants, Big Impact

By Jennie Saxe

Last month, universities, watershed groups, and other recipients of EPA’s Urban Waters Small Grants gave presentations on their work to restore urban waterways in Philadelphia, Wilmington, Camden, and Chester, four cities that have the common bond of being part of the Urban Waters Federal Partnership. Even though these groups received “small grants,” they’ve truly had a big impact.

The Urban Waters Federal Partnership in the Greater Philadelphia Area/Delaware River Watershed is helping communities, protecting urban waterways, and is providing critical job skills. This GreenTreks Network video highlights local programs that provide positive activities for at-risk youth and protect local waters at the same time. The video highlights work done by the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society – which received one of the first Urban Waters Small Grants – to support its Roots to Re-entry program. This program gives horticultural and landscaping training to inmates of the Philadelphia Prison System to give them post-release job skills and job placement assistance.

Greater Philadelphia area communities are experiencing the power of partnerships in other ways, too. A second video from GreenTreks Network shows how Urban Waters Federal Partners, including EPA, the U.S. Forest Service, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the National Park Service, local water utilities, and a host of local organizations together have the power to create positive change in communities, while protecting the area’s urban waterways.

The Urban Waters Federal Partnership is truly making a difference in the Philadelphia area, and other locations across the country. Check out this map to find out what’s happening in an Urban Waters location near you.

 

About the author: Dr. Jennie Saxe joined EPA’s Mid-Atlantic Region in 2003 and works in the Water Protection Division on sustainability programs

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

Cooking Up Solutions to Climate Change

By Natalie Liller

EPA’s 5th annual Science of Climate Change Workshop

EPA’s 5th annual Science of Climate Change Workshop

June 15-19th, 2015 marked EPA’s 5th annual Science of Climate Change Workshop—and even more importantly, it summoned the latest group of talented high-school-aged students to learn about the science behind taking action on climate change. This year, the program focused on climate science and the impacts of climate change. World-class scientists, engineers, and policy experts demonstrated their research and led hands-on activities to encourage innovative thinking.

The program’s goal is to reach out to students with a keen interest in science and climate change and equip them with the knowledge and resources to go out into their homes, schools, and communities to raise awareness and to encourage others to act. EPA’s STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) Outreach Program, under the leadership of Director Kelly Witter, is engaging these young, bright, and enthusiastic students to extend their knowledge on climate change and build their confidence to become the scientific leaders of their generation.

EPA's Seth Ebersviller, Ph.D. shares the latest cookstove innovations.

EPA’s Seth Ebersviller, Ph.D. shares the latest cookstove innovations.

As a part of their week-long education, the students were able to see sustainable energy being harnessed while speaking to the scientists and engineers about their work. During one session, the students learned about the technology behind biomass-burning cookstoves and solar ovens with Seth Ebersviller, Ph.D., an EPA Post-Doctoral Fellow. With this first-hand exposure, the students constructed their own solar ovens using recycled pizza boxes and aluminum foil and then baked cookies. These excited students were able to take their knowledge on solar power and apply it to an everyday need—cooking.

Unfortunately, it is not all “milk and cookies.” There is a monumental need for change on a global scale to combat the effects of climate change, present and future. Witter believes that students will be the largest advocates for climate awareness because “they understand and appreciate the science.” She hopes that through this program the students will take their “enthusiasm and passion for protecting the environment and share it with their peers to make a difference and help slow the impacts.” And they are doing just that—six program students are already working on educating their peers with hopes of creating a Climate Club chapter at their respective schools. Cassidy Leovic (Riverside High School) said that the goal of the clubs will be to “inform peers on what they can do,” focusing on energy conservation and sustainable food choices. EPA is thrilled to see these students taking action and looks forward to seeing them continue to foster this enthusiasm and change in the coming years.

About the Author: Natalie Liller is a sophomore at Appalachian State University, majoring in Political Science, Pre-Legal Studies and Environmental Science. This summer she is interning at EPA to focus on educating students on environmental science and climate change.

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

Excavation Experts: Are Moles or Voles Ruining your Lawn? (Part 1)

By Marcia Anderson

It’s Summertime! Time to get outside and enjoy the great outdoors.

Imagine you are strolling across your lawn on a beautiful day assessing your maintenance routines, when you notice something amiss. It appears as if someone – something! – has created a maze of tunnels under your once-beautiful turf. Voles and moles are the most common culprits. But which is which and how do you tell the difference?

Moles are not the only animal pests responsible for tunneling lawn and garden areas. In reality, it’s really voles causing much of the damage chalked up to moles. Other than names that rhyme, voles and moles are entirely different pests with little in common. Once you understand their differences, it becomes rather easy to tell them apart and to develop a control strategy. The biggest differences between moles and voles is their diet and the damage they cause.

Voles are also known as the meadow or field mouse. Photo by Jack Kelly Clark (www.ipm.ucdavis.edu)

Voles are also known as the meadow or field mouse. Photo by Jack Kelly Clark (www.ipm.ucdavis.edu)

Voles

Voles are rodents, as are mice, rats, gophers and squirrels. They look much like mice, only with shorter tails. Voles, of which there are 23 species, usually do not invade homes and should not be confused with the common house mouse. Voles are plant-eaters, feeding on the stems and blades of grass, and the roots, seeds and bulbs of flowering and garden crops. If that is not enough, in winter when other foods are scarce, they’ll even chew the bark off trees and shrubs.

When voles make tunnels while searching for roots to eat, they do not create raised ridges. Voles create golf-ball-sized entry holes into their tunnels along walls and in mulched beds. Their above ground grassy runways connect to multiple, clustered burrow openings. Their surface tunnels are most noticeable in early spring, just after the snow melts.

Moles

Moles are built for tunneling with paddle-like paws. Photo: Stanislaw Szyalo (a-z-animals.com)

Moles are built for tunneling with paddle-like paws. Photo: Stanislaw Szyalo
(a-z-animals.com)

Unlike voles, moles are not rodents, and they don’t eat plants. Their primary diet is earthworms with a few insects – beetle larvae and adults, ants, wasps, and flies tossed in as appetizers. According to Ohio State University, a five-ounce mole will consume 45-50 pounds of worms and insects each year.

Landscape demolition from moles comes in the form of tunnels, runways and raised burrows in your lawn, ground cover, and shrub areas while on their never-ending search for food. Moles, are built for tunneling, with paddle-like paws that make quick work of moving even the most dense clay soils. Moles can dig surface tunnels at a rate of 18 feet/hour.  The word “mole” is from the Middle English molle which is derived from mold-warpe, meaning “earth-thrower.”

Moles prefer well-drained, loose, sandy soil, and they avoid heavy clay, gravelly soils, and very dry or very wet soils. Because moles prefer moist soil, human environs such as manicured suburban lawns, parks and golf courses often provide beneficial habitat due to higher quality soils and adequate moisture.

Moles are constantly tunneling in search of meals, pushing up mini mountain ranges all over lawns, and creating volcanoes of soil in random spots. Moles produce two types of elaborate tunnels. The tunnels just beneath the surface, are feeding tunnels and appear as raised ridges running across your lawn. The second type of runway runs deeper and enables the moles to unite the feeding tunnels in a network. As the weather cools, moles will retreat into their deeper tunnels, often up to five feet beneath the surface. It is the soil excavated from the deep tunnels that resemble little volcanoes.

Management

Pest identification is a fundamental step in an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) plan. IPM is a smart, sensible and sustainable approach to controlling pests. IPM is smart because it addresses the root causes of pest problems. It is sensible because it provides a healthier environment, and it is a sustainable approach that provides effective, long-term pest control. Specific knowledge about your pest will give you key clues for their management.

Preventing pest problems through foresight, is the first rule of IPM. Taking preventive steps to preclude a pest problem is preferable to waiting for pests to arrive, then having to eradicate them. To deter these landscape pests, be prepared to alter their environment.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of Excavation Experts to learn how to prevent and control moles and voles. In the meantime visit the University of Nebraska website for more information on moles and voles.

About the Author: About the Author: Marcia is with EPA’s Center of Expertise for School IPM in Dallas, Texas. She holds a PhD in Environmental Management from Montclair State University along with degrees in Biology, Environmental Design, Landscape Architecture, and Instruction and Curriculum. Marcia was formerly with the EPA Region 2 Pesticides Program and has been a professor of Earth and Environmental Studies, Geology, and Oceanography at several universities.

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

This Week in EPA Science

By Kacey Fitzpatrickresearch_recap_250

The dog days of summer are upon us. Need a break from the heat? Check out some of our cool EPA science!

Here’s what we are highlighting this week.

  • A Small Program with a Big Mission
    EPA’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) team recently attended the 2015 National SBIR/STTR Conference and met with environmental entrepreneurs and successful SBIR awardees who have gone from an innovative seedling to a growing green business.
    Read more about the conference in the blog Seeding Environmental Innovation.
  • Report on the Environment
    EPA’s Report on the Environment is a tool to effectively communicate information regarding the environment and human health conditions in the United States. It contains a compilation of objective, scientific indicators compiled from a variety of sources, including federal agencies, universities, and non-governmental organizations.
    Read more about the report in the blog Bridging the Gap: EPA’s Report on the Environment.

Photo of the Week

Biologist Peggy Harris of EPA's dive team helps to survey coral reef conditions off the southern coast of Puerto Rico. EPA studies coral reefs because they are great indicators of water quality and the overall health of coastal watersheds.

Biologist Peggy Harris of EPA’s dive team helps to survey coral reef conditions off the southern coast of Puerto Rico. EPA studies coral reefs because they are great indicators of water quality and the overall health of coastal watersheds.

If you have any comments or questions about what I share or about the week’s events, please submit them below in the comments section!

About the Author: Kacey Fitzpatrick is a student contractor and writer working with the science communication team in EPA’s Office of Research and Development.

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

Reunión de la CCA es una victoria para la salud pública en Norteamérica

Por Gina McCarthy
Administradora de la EPA

 

Administradora Gina McCarthy en la clausura de la sesión ordinaria del órgano rector de la CCA en Boston.

Administradora Gina McCarthy en la clausura de la sesión ordinaria del órgano rector de la CCA en Boston.

La semana pasada, tuve el placer de servir de anfitriona para la ministra del Medio Ambiente de Canadá y el subsecretario del Medio Ambiente de México en la vigésimo segunda ordinaria del Consejo de la Comisión de Cooperación Ambiental (CCA) en mi ciudad natal de Boston.

La CCA es una organización creada por los Estados Unidos, Canadá y México para abordar las preocupaciones ambientales en Norteamérica—porque la contaminación no lleva pasaporte. Como presidenta, representé al Gobierno de EE.UU. en el Consejo y tomé la delantera para discutir nuestro futuro como vecinos y aliados en la protección de la salud pública y el medio ambiente.

Los impactos del cambio climático, tales como más sequías extremas, un mayor número de inundaciones, incendios forestales y tormentas, amenazan las comunidades vulnerables en Norteamérica y más allá. Y a lo largo del camino aquellos que tienen menos son los que más sufren. Es por eso que nuestras tres naciones están comprometidas a trabajar juntas para abordar los retos climáticos. Y estamos esperando poder continuar nuestra cooperación en París a medida que trabajamos para lograr una acción internacional concreta sobre el clima.

En la sesión este año, el Consejo endosó un nuevo marco quinquenal que nos ayudará abordar juntos los retos medioambientales a los cuales nos enfrentamos. Nos enfocaremos en el cambio climático: desde la adaptación a la mitigación; desde la energía verde al crecimiento verde; de las comunidades sostenibles a los ecosistemas saludables. El plan presenta nuestras prioridades compartidas para maximizar los esfuerzos de cada uno por abordar los retos ambientales.

Mirando hacia el futuro, discutimos la posibilidad de usar la CCA como un medio para abordar los impactos climáticos sobre otros importantes retos ambientales como la cantidad y la calidad del agua, la energía renovable, la eficiencia energética y los océanos.

Administradora Gina McCarthy con Leona Aglukkaq, ministra del Medio Ambiente de Canadá, y Rodolfo Lacy Tamayo, secretario del Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales de México, en la 22nda sesión anual del Consejo de la Comisión de Cooperación Ambiental de Norteamérica

Administradora Gina McCarthy con Leona Aglukkaq, ministra del Medio Ambiente de Canadá, y Rodolfo Lacy Tamayo, secretario del Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales de México, en la 22nda sesión anual del Consejo de la Comisión de Cooperación Ambiental de Norteamérica

 

Durante nuestras conversaciones, el programa de EPA denominado “Aguas Libres de Basura” capturó la atención de los demás ministros en el Consejo. Mediante los esfuerzos comunitarios de alcance público y educación, la EPA está trabajando para reducir la cantidad de basura que llega a nuestros lagos, arroyos y océanos. Discutimos maneras en las cuales podremos ampliar y desarrollar aún más nuestros logros y expandirlos a otras ciudades en Norteamérica.

El Consejo también reafirmó el Plan Operativo de la CCA para el 2015-2016, que está enfocado en producir resultados tangibles y medibles. El plan propone 16 nuevos proyectos que reunirán a nuestros expertos en labores relacionadas a la reducción de las emisiones de transporte marítimo para proteger nuestra salud de la contaminación del aire, y el fortalecimiento de protecciones para las mariposas monarcas y otros polinizadores.

Nombramos un grupo de expertos en conocimientos ecológicos tradicionales de Canadá, México y Estados Unidos. En conjunto con las ciencias, los conocimientos tradicionales nos ayudan a entender nuestro medio ambiente, ayudándonos así a mejor protegerlo. Los peritos trabajarán con el Comité Consultivo Público Conjunto (CCPC) de la CCA para asesorar al Consejo sobre maneras para aplicar los conocimientos ecológicos tradicionales a las operaciones y recomendaciones de políticas de la CCA.

También anunciamos el tercer ciclo de subvenciones de la Alianza de América del Norte para la Acción Comunitaria (NAPECA, por sus siglas en inglés), un programa que apoya los proyectos prácticos en comunidades de bajos ingresos, marginadas e indígenas a través de América del Norte. Esta programa apoya las actividades comunitarias relacionadas al clima y fomenta la transición hacia una economía baja en carbono.

Al finalizar la reunión, México asumió la presidencia para el siguiente año. Es un honor trabajar con nuestros vecinos para abordar los retos ambientales directamente y asegurarnos de que Norteamérica lidere la acción climática global. Cuando lo hacemos, protegemos la salud de nuestros ciudadanos, nuestra economía y nuestra manera de vida. Infórmese aquí.

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

Talking Clean Water With My Kids … on Vacation (Yeah, They Loved It)

By Jeffery Robichaud

A couple of years ago, I wrote that we took a staycation and probably would not be able to get away with that again. I was right. We visited my folks in North Carolina this year, but at least we got a place within walking distance from the beach. So even though we flew, I was able to cut down on all the car rides from the usual condo where we stay, reducing our carbon footprint. Since the weather was perfect the entire time, we also took no extra trips down to Myrtle Beach, S.C., to kill a day.

While I was gone those few weeks, there were quite a few blog articles about the Clean Water Rule, both in our region and across the nation. Honestly, I felt bad leaving work with so much going on, but I couldn’t get away from water even if I wanted to.


We spent a week at the beach, where my kids romped in the surf, collected shells, and dug holes in the sand. Sunset Beach, N.C., is located partly on Bird Island. Its pristine shoreline, dunes, and marshland provide important habitat and nesting for species that are threatened and endangered, including two types of turtles (Loggerhead and Kemp’s Ridley).

It was easy to explain to my kiddos why protecting the backwaters and marshes of the island was so important. I think I lost them to the allure of the ocean, when I started saying that one of the things we’re working on back at EPA is a rule that more clearly explains which waters were protected by the Clean Water Act. (Some kids don’t like to hear their dad talk about work at the beach.)

When our beach time ended, we headed back up the coastline to Wilmington, N.C. The city is near the mouth of the Cape Fear River, which circuitously winds its way west, then north, then west again and finally past my folk’s house south of Raleigh.

I tried to break up the long drive by pointing out how each of the different rivers and creeks we crossed connected to each other and the ocean (Burgaw Creek to the Northeast Cape Fear River to the Cape Fear River to the Atlantic Ocean). Basically, I made a Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon game out of the system of tributaries. I’m pretty sure I only amused myself, since both boys’ heads never seemed to rise from their devices.

We rounded out our trip by heading up into the mountains just as the temperature was climbing into the triple digits. My dad took great pleasure in showing the boys that we were coming up upon the Eastern Continental Divide, quizzing them on what that meant. When they gave him the right answer, he looked a little sad that he wasn’t able to impart that bit of wisdom on them. I realized I was more like my father than I thought.


We had a great time in the Appalachians wading through some streams, skipping rocks, and enjoying the cooler weather. This was on the spur of the moment, so we weren’t able to take advantage of the rafting excursions that dotted the valleys between the peaks. However, it was pretty clear that these thriving businesses relied on the cool, clean and clear water that sprang from the mountains. I tried to point this out, but by that time, my boys were rolling their eyes and saying, “We get it, Dad. Protecting water is important!”

So even though I left for vacation as EPA announced the Clean Water Rule, I actually spent my entire summer vacation talking about it anyway – if only to an 11- and 13-year-old. From my home in the Heartland to the mountains and beyond to the ocean, clean water is a blessing we have here in the United States. It is something I am proud to be working to protect, and something that we need to be sure to safeguard for our children – if only so I can ask my grandkids someday, “Hey guys, do you know what the Eastern Continental Divide is?”

About the Author: Jeffery Robichaud is a second-generation EPA scientist who has worked for the Agency since 1998. He currently serves as Deputy Director of EPA Region 7′s Water, Wetlands, and Pesticides Division. His summer trips to the beach as a youth were at the decidedly colder Long Sands Beach in York, Maine.

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.