Urban Composting: It’s Always Worth It

By Barbara Pualani

Any household organic material can be composted (and used again!).

Any household organic material can be composted (and used again!).

Earth-friendly urban dwellers know just how precarious composting in the city can be. Storage bags of frozen food waste in the freezer, the subway ride overloaded with multiple bags, sometimes difficult-to-find drop-off sites. I have shared countless stories with friends about urban composting. Shenanigans abound, but we always agree that in the end it’s worth it.

Take a friend of mine that I met as a student at Columbia University. Every week she would bring her compost from New Jersey to the campus farmer’s market. She would carry a week’s worth of food waste one train ride and two subway rides every Thursday. But one day, running late, the farmer’s market closed before she could get there, leaving her stuck with the compost. She wasn’t too worried–until a student meeting ended up lasting four hours. By that time, the forgotten compost was stinking up the room and annoying her fellow students. Luckily, she eventually found a fridge to store it in. Her friends laughed it off.

Composting can sometimes seem pretty inconvenient, so why do it at all? Because food waste is actually a really big problem.

Rotting food in landfills is a substantial source of methane—a greenhouse gas with 21 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide. In the U.S., landfills account for more than 20 percent of all methane emissions. Organic materials make up the largest portion of this waste. Paper materials comprise 27 percent while yard trimmings and food comprise 28 percent. This means that 55 percent of all waste in this country can potentially be composted rather than rotting in our landfills.

The story sounds dire, but it’s not all doom and gloom. Composting has made substantial headway in recent years.

According to EPA’s Advancing Sustainable Materials Management study released this year, Americans recycled and composted over 87 million tons of waste in 2013, which in carbon dioxide equivalent terms is equal to removing emissions for over 39 million passenger vehicles from the road in one year. The most recent numbers show that 5 percent of food is now composted annually. Over 2.7 million households are served by food composting collection programs nationwide. Even in the city, composting is becoming more convenient. New York City recently mandated composting for all hotel restaurants, arenas and wholesalers, and there are various organics collection services & drop off points for residents in all five boroughs.

On a different Thursday, my friend was again dropping off her compost. She mentioned to the man running the booth that she brought it all the way from New Jersey. Upon hearing this, he bowed his head with his hands folded in prayer and said, “You are an inspiration to us all.” Although we giggled about this later, he’s absolutely right.

This is why we compost—to inspire, to reduce our carbon footprint, and to do our fair share in taking care of this planet.

The biggest lesson we can learn is it’s not just for green-thumbed hippies. One of my favorite stories comes from a former colleague who told me (facetiously, of course) that composting had taken a toll on her marriage. After a year of picking his organics out of the garbage, she finally confronted her husband about his incorrect trash disposal methods. He explained how he didn’t really care about it, and even though he knew she had already explained how to do it, he was still unsure. Because her husband is very Catholic, she resorted to quoting the Pope who believes “everyone has a moral obligation to care for the planet.” Now her husband puts his organics in the compost bags; if he is unsure if the item is compostable, he asks. My colleague ended this story with an assurance and a wink: “I am happily married.”

I like to collect these anecdotes—laughter is the best medicine after all—but they serve to amplify the real problem: organic waste is a serious contributor to climate change, and we all need to do our part to address it. If you’re confused about what’s compostable and what’s not, check out your city’s local web page.  Or, like my friend’s husband, if you’re confused, just ask. It never hurts to research or ask around until you do find someone who knows. And it’s always worth it.

About the author: Barbara Pualani serves as a speechwriter for EPA Region 2. Prior to joining EPA, she served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Dominican Republic. She resides in Brooklyn and is a graduate of University of Northern Colorado and Columbia University.

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.

Refining Environmental Justice

Matt Tejada Matt Tejada

By Matt Tejada

Before joining EPA, I spent more than five years in Houston working to protect the health of the many low-income and minority communities along the Texas Gulf Coast who share their neighborhoods with oil refineries. I cannot think of a single fenceline community from my work that does not have numerous health and environmental challenges facing local residents. And while toxic emissions from refineries are not responsible for all of those challenges, the risk from refinery pollution is an ever-present part of living in these places.

A new rule we’re releasing today helps reduce these dangerous emissions – a major victory for environmental justice but more importantly for the communities living and working along the fencelines of refineries.

The rule will reduce visible smoking flare emissions and accidental releases. For the first time in a nationwide rule, it will provide important emissions information to the public and neighboring communities by requiring refineries to actually monitor emissions at key sources within their facilities and around their fencelines. The rule also increases controls for storage tanks and cokers, parts of refineries that many folks rarely think about because they have just become part of their neighborhood background. The pollution reduced from these two types of units is very significant.

The final “Refinery Rule” – as many EJ stakeholders likely know it by – will reduce 5,200 tons per year of toxic air pollutants, along with 50,000 tons per year of volatile organic compounds. That is thousands of tons of pollution that will not be coming out of our nation’s refineries every single year. The emission reductions from this final rule will lower the cancer risk from refineries for 1.4 million people. That’s not just good for the communities that live in and around refineries — it’s outstanding. And, not just for the communities, but for the folks who work inside the refineries, as well as stakeholders in the broader community whose regional air quality would otherwise be impacted by some of these pollutants.

This rule means a lot to me personally after all the time I spent in those communities in my home state of Texas. It’s one of the biggest steps we’ve taken to protect environmental justice communities under Administrator McCarthy’s leadership. But it’s not the only one – we’ve also worked to create a Clean Power Plan that protects the needs of the most vulnerable Americans, changed the way we prioritize environmental justice in our rulemaking, created EJSCREEN to help communities learn about their environmental risks, and – just this week – released new Worker Protection Standards that keep farmworkers and their families safer from over-exposure to pesticides.

As someone who has worked on the community side of these issues, I know the importance of listening to stakeholders and communities who provide valuable input as we develop rules. The final rule incorporates community feedback and has been strengthened from proposal stage to final, accounting for important concerns expressed by the very people living on the fenceline who we are trying to protect.

Our work to increase that protection is far from done, but this final Refinery Rule is a major step forward in controlling pollution from refineries to protect the health and well-being of those who live near them and it leaves the door open to continue to introduce technology as it advances and offers even greater protection. Because here at EPA we don’t see environmental justice as something to be achieved in one action – but as something we are committed to continually advancing in everything we do.

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.

Protegiendo a la gente que ayuda a alimentarnos

Por Gina McCarthy, administradora de la EPA, y Thomas Perez, secretario del Departamento del Trabajo de EE.UU.

Nosotros dependemos de los dos millones de trabajadores agrícolas de nuestra nación que ayudan a proveer las frutas y hortalizas que alimentan a nuestras familias cada día. Sin embargo, cada año, miles de trabajadores agrícolas se enferman o son lesionados por la exposición previsible a los plaguicidas, lo cual conduce a días de enfermedad, pérdida de ingresos, facturas médicas, y ausencias a la escuela.

Los trabajadores agrícolas merecen los mismos tipos de protecciones de los peligros en el lugar del trabajo que otros trabajadores en otras industrias han disfrutado por décadas.

Es por eso que hoy, la EPA anunció protecciones más estrictas para los trabajadores en granjas, en viveros, y en invernaderos.  El Estándar actualizado para la Protección del Trabajador Agrícola asegura que los trabajadores agrícolas conozcan sus derechos mediante la capacitación anual, las medidas de seguridad mejoradas y el acceso a información, así como la protección a los trabajadores de represalias por denunciar irregularidades.

Es sencillo: esta norma ayuda a asegurar que nuestros alimentos sean producidos de una manera que proteja la salud de los trabajadores, así como la salud de sus familias.

Es hora de levantar el estándar para nuestros trabajadores agrícolas en Estados Unidos. Vea cómo la norma de hace 20 años ha sido mejorada.

Worker Protection Standards comparison chart

La EPA ha trabajado duro para desarrollar la norma basándose en lo aprendido desde que el Estándar original para la Protección del Trabajador Agrícola fue anunciado hace 20 años. Desde los socios estatales y locales, a la comunidad de trabajadores agrícolas, a los agricultores, granjeros, y cultivadores—hemos aprendido lo que funciona para proteger a los trabajadores agrícolas de la exposición a pesticidas, o dónde tenemos que hacer más. Estamos confiados en que con las revisiones anunciadas hoy protegeremos nuestra sólida economía agrícola y las tradiciones de las familias agrícolas.

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.

Protecting the People Who Help Feed Us

Gina McCarthy Gina McCarthy
Thomas Perez Thomas Perez

By Administrator Gina McCarthy and Department of Labor Secretary Thomas E. Perez

We depend on our nation’s two million farmworkers to help provide the fruits and vegetables we feed our families every day. But each year, thousands of farmworkers become ill or injured from preventable pesticide exposure, leading to sick days, lost wages, medical bills, and absences from school.

Farmworkers deserve the same kinds of protections from workplace hazards that workers in other industries have enjoyed for decades.

That’s why today, EPA announced stronger protections for workers on farms, in nurseries, and in greenhouses. The updated Worker Protection Standard makes sure farmworkers know their rights through yearly training, have improved safety measures and access to information, as well as protection from retaliation for speaking out.

It’s simple: this rule helps make sure our food is produced in a way that protects farmworkers’ health and the health of their families.

The evidence is clear that managing for safety results in more productive, successful businesses. There are serious financial consequences for businesses that don’t acknowledge the importance of worker safety. They not only endanger their own workers, they reduce their competitiveness and harms their bottom line. It’s time to raise the bar for our agriculture workers in the United States. See how the 20-year old rule has been upgraded.

 

Farm worker protection standards comparison chart.

 

EPA has worked hard to build on what we’ve learned since the original Worker Protection Standard was announced 20 years ago. From state and local partners, to the farmworker community, to farmers, ranchers, and growers—we’ve learned what works to protect farmworkers from pesticide exposure, and where we need to do more. We’re confident that today’s revisions will protect our strong farm economy and family farming traditions.
President Obama has called closing gaps of opportunity a defining challenge of our time. Meeting that challenge means ensuring clean air, clean water, and safe work environments.  Environmental justice is at the heart of EPA’s mission to protect public health—especially for vulnerable communities dealing with risks associated with pesticide exposure. And the Department of Labor is proud to support them in this effort.

The new Worker Protection Standard will help ensure strong, sensible safeguards for farmworkers, their families, and the agricultural community across America.

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 graphic identifier

This week, in an historic (and very busy!) visit to Washington DC, Pope Francis met with President Obama, addressed Congress, and called for action on climate change. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy supported the Pope’s message in her blog The Pope’s Visit – Renewing the Call to Act on Climate.

Check out our Climate Change Research page to see how EPA science works behind the scenes to provide the knowledge people need to prepare for climate change and its impacts, so communities will have the best information possible to take action.

And here’s some more science we’re highlighting.

  • EPA Helps Build Smarter Cities
    As part of the White House’s new “Smart Cities” initiative, EPA is announcing new steps to unlock Smart Cities approaches to environmental monitoring and analysis. These new steps, like EPA’s Village Green Project, are designed to help communities undertake innovative sensor-based approaches to improve data collection and analysis of environmental condition and risk.
    Read more about the initiative in this White House Fact Sheet.
  • Water Environment Federation’s Annual Technical Exhibition and Conference
    Next week, over 20,000 people will arrive in Chicago to participate in at the Water Environment Federation’s Annual Technical Exhibition and Conference. Researchers from EPA’s Safe and Sustainable Water Resources program will be there to share their tools and research results about green infrastructure and other resources that are making a difference in local communities.
    Read more about the conference in the blog Where to Find EPA at WEFTEC 2015.

Photo of the Week

A scientist uses tools to sample water in a desert while another scientist records data

EPA researchers survey aquatic life in desert spring, Las Vegas, NV.

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.

Bringing Water Protection into the Modern Age

Cynthia Giles Cynthia Giles

By Cynthia Giles

Information technology is everywhere. How we communicate, and how we share with one another has gone digital, saving paper, time, money, and making it easier to get information faster and more reliably.

Paper reports can stack up – here is an example from just one EPA Region

Paper reports can stack up – here is an example from just one EPA Region

Forty-three years ago, when the Clean Water Act was enacted, things moved a little slower. But the significance and impact of this important law remains today. It has helped clean up our lakes and rivers, and ensure that Americans are drinking safe water so we can live active, healthy lives. Under the Clean Water Act, the National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) program requires that hundreds of thousands of regulated facilities monitor and report data on their discharges of pollutants into waters to ensure they are not negatively affecting public health or the environment.

For years, these reports were filed by paper, and regulators – state and federal – had to manually review and enter the data into computers. That is until this week, when Administrator Gina McCarthy signed the final NPDES electronic reporting rule, requiring reports to be electronically filed. More than seven years in the making, following more than 70 technical and individual meetings, and 50 webinars with over 1,200 stakeholders, we have brought clean water protection into the modern age. Here’s what that means:

  • The public will have full transparency into water quality data. Facility-specific information, such as inspection and enforcement history, pollutant monitoring results, and other data required by NPDES permits will be accessible to the public through our website. Transparency can also drive improved performance among regulated facilities; when water quality data can be easily accessed online, facilities are more inclined to avoid pollution problems that raise public concern.
  • Once the rule is fully implemented, the 46 states and the Virgin Islands Territory that are authorized to administer the NPDES program will collectively save approximately $22.6 million each year as a result of switching from paper to electronic reporting.
  • Additionally, after full implementation, we estimate that states and regulated entities will save a total combined 900,000 hours of time per year. Instead of sifting through stacks of paper, that time, in addition to the money saved, can be put toward important water protection activities.

Finalizing this rule is a major milestone, but there’s still more work to do. Over the next few months, we will schedule trainings and more webinar sessions with states and regulated entities to provide an overview of the final rule, and the next steps for implementing electronic reporting. To realize the important benefits that this rule provides, EPA and our state, tribal, and territorial partners will continue to work collaboratively to implement these changes.

Electronic reporting in this day and age is essential to effective environmental protection. It furthers our Next Generation Compliance and the E-Enterprise for the Environment strategies to take advantage of new tools, innovative approaches and to work in partnership with states to increase compliance and reduce pollution. A modernized approach to reporting means cleaner water for everyone.

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.

Preventing Pollution Begins at Home

By Roy Crystal
Pollution Prevention Coordinator
EPA New England

Do you remember this first picture of the whole Earth seen from space – a beautiful round ball covered with oceans and clouds? Our home. The image of this fragile blue ball inspires us to want to take better care of the planet that we live on.

nasa dl blue marble AS17-148-22727

I work in EPA New England’s Assistance and Pollution Prevention Office. I was recently named the region’s pollution prevention coordinator. I am enthusiastic and excited to take on this new challenge. This blog is the first of a series of communications I hope to write on what we are doing here at EPA to prevent pollution – and what you can do at home or at work.

Did you know that this week, September 21 to 25, is Pollution Prevention Week? This year we are celebrating the 25th anniversary of the passage of the landmark Pollution Prevention Act which states “it to be the national policy of the United States that pollution should be prevented or reduced at the source whenever feasible.” Under this law, EPA has awarded grants to many states, institutions, and businesses to carry out actions that prevent pollution. Our state partners have trained many businesses to change their practices to prevent pollution. For example, some auto body shops have switched from solvent-based to water-based paints, and some dry cleaners have eliminated the use of perchloroethylene and switched to wet cleaning. Many other businesses have reduced their use of water and toxic chemicals. Our office here in Boston administers these grants around New England; we also implement a wide range of other activities to prevent pollution, working closely with our states, interstate organizations such as the Northeast Waste Management Organization (NEWMOA), businesses, and communities. The opportunity to work collaboratively with all of these partners is what makes my new role so meaningful to me.

For more information on Pollution Prevention Week and what you can do, go to http://www2.epa.gov/p2week.

So – what can we do to protect the fragile blue marble we call home? Here are some ideas:

• Reduce, Reuse and Recycle – find ways to use fewer toxic materials and conserve resources,
• Look for Safer Choice products in stores and through distributors,
• Look for products with the Energy Star,
• Use water efficiently – get helpful hints from our Water Sense program,
• Soak Up the Rain that falls on your yards to prevent pollution generated from dog waste and fertilizers from running into your local rivers and streams, and
• Take steps to sustainably manage your food.

If you have thoughts to share with me on how we can work together to prevent pollution, feel free to leave a comment.

Yours for a greener Earth –

Roy

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.

La visita del papa—renovando el llamado para tomar acción climática

Por Gina McCarthy
Esta semana, el papa Francisco realizó una visita histórica a Washington, DC, donde se reunió con el presidente Obama, pronunció un discurso ante el Congreso y encabezará una concentración para apoyar la acción moral a favor de la justicia climática.

Este verano, el papa publicó una encíclica histórica enfatizando nuestra obligación moral para tomar acción para afrontar el cambio climático—por el bien de nuestros hijos y las poblaciones vulnerables alrededor del mundo. Su visita a Washington esta semana es un recordatorio de que la necesidad de tomar acción es más apremiante que nunca para proteger nuestro “hogar común”.

En la EPA, no podríamos estar más de acuerdo. La justicia ambienta constituye el núcleo de todo lo que hacemos, incluyendo nuestra labor para abordar el cambio climático. El cambio climático es personal, afecta a cada persona en Estados Unidos. Además, las comunidades de bajos ingresos y minoritarias son especialmente vulnerables a los cambios relacionados al clima como las tormentas más intensas, inundaciones, incendios y sequías. Y como si eso no fuera poco, ellos son los menos capaces de reconstruirse después de un desastre.

Las personas de bajos ingresos y comunidades minoritarias en Estados Unidos son más propensas a vivir bajo la sombre de industrias contaminantes como las centrales eléctricas, y son más probables de estar expuestas a niveles más altos de contaminación. Y la contaminación de carbono que propulsa el cambio climático trae consigo otros contaminantes peligrosos como el hollín y aquellos que forman el esmog, que pueden resultar en enfermedades de los pulmones y del corazón.

Más de 10 millones de niños en Estados Unidos han sido diagnosticados con asma. Pero para los niños de origen africano y latino, así como para los niños de familias de bajos ingresos, ellos son más propensos a padecer asma y problemas respiratorios que los demás niños.

Claro está que el cambio climático no tan solo está sucediendo aquí en Estados Unidos. Los ciudadanos de otros países como Bangladesh, y las naciones en las islas del Pacífico están teniendo que retirarse del alza en el nivel del mar; partes de África se enfrentan a una sequía devastadora, la cual amenaza el suministro de alimentos; los pueblos indígenas del Ártico están presenciando cómo los niveles del hielo marino están retrocediendo de manera sin precedentes.

Todos tenemos papeles que desempeñar para tomar acción de parte de aquellos que están sufriendo el embate mayor de los efectos del cambio climático. Al trabajar juntos, podremos afrontar el reto. El mensaje de la reciente encíclica papal fue extremadamente clara.

“Los seres humanos, mientras son capaces de lo peor, también son capaces de superarse, y escoger nuevamente lo que es bueno, y optar por un nuevo comienzo”.

Me enorgullece poder decir que los Estados Unidos están respondiendo a este llamado.
El Plan de Energía Limpia de la EPA encamina nuestra nación hacia el recortar la contaminación de carbono del sector energético a 32 por ciento por debajo de los niveles del 2005 para el 2030—mientras mantenemos la energía fiable y asequible. A medida de que hablamos, los estados alrededor del país ya están trazando sus planes de implementación.

La comunidad de fe ha servido como una fuerza catalítica extraordinaria a favor de la acción climática y hemos visto un apoyo increíble y un progreso en el sector privado también. Los negocios de todos los tamaños, están enrollándose las mangas para trabajar y reducir sus huellas de carbono, planificar para el cambio climático futuro, y promover soluciones innovadoras de energía limpia. También nos sentimos alentados por los pasos que nuestros socios alrededor del mundo están tomando, incluyendo las economías grandes y pequeñas, así como los emisores más grandes del mundo.

El impulso colectivo me da confianza de que se alcanzará un acuerdo climático global en París luego este año. Y me da esperanza de poder responder al llamado moral del papa: para proteger los menos afortunados y salvaguardar un planeta precioso y abundante, lleno de oportunidades para nuestros hijos y las generaciones venideras.

En la actualidad, el asunto está bajo investigación. Por ende, no podemos conceder una entrevista sobre el tema en estos momentos.

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.

September is Prime Time for Preparedness

by Jennie Saxe

A few key elements of a basic emergency supply kit

A few key elements of a basic emergency supply kit

One of my favorite movie quotes of all time is from the character Edna Mode in the animated movie The Incredibles: “Luck favors the prepared.” Why do I like this quote? It’s simple: luck isn’t necessarily the answer; preparation is an important factor for success in school, at work, in sports, and more.

Being prepared isn’t just for students and athletes – water systems and communities need to be prepared, too. Flooding rains, power outages, and intentional acts are emergencies that can disrupt our lives – even putting our safety at risk. As our climate changes, these types of emergencies present different, serious challenges to water and wastewater systems.

EPA has many resources for water systems to help them plan, prepare for, and respond to all types of hazards. Water utilities can also respond to climate changes underway – and prepare for changes anticipated in the future – by tapping into EPA’s Climate Ready Water Utilities program. Recently, Capital Region Water in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania made use of EPA’s Climate Resilience Evaluation & Awareness Tool (CREAT) to identify what impacts climate change has on its operations and develop options for lowering risk. This video is a great look at how water and wastewater treatment plants can incorporate resilience, climate change, and long-term sustainability into capital projects and operations.

Because there’s not a “one-size-fits-all” approach for water utilities to adapt to climate changes, EPA also developed an Adaptation Strategies Guide for Water Utilities. This guide walks users step-by-step though projected climate conditions in different regions, and provides a menu of actions that a water utility can take to be better prepared to serve its community in all types of emergencies. The guide even highlights some “no regrets” options (for example: monitoring weather conditions; diversifying water sources; and developing mutual aid agreements with other utilities) which will benefit water systems in a variety of current and future climate scenarios.

Preparedness is so important for families and communities that President Obama has declared September National Preparedness Month, a time to develop plans for all types of emergencies. Take some time this month to talk with your family about what they should do in an emergency, and put together an emergency kit that includes water. It’s easy, and it can make weathering an emergency less stressful. Check out these resources today!

 

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.

The Pope’s Visit – Renewing the Call to Act on Climate

Gina McCarthy Gina McCarthy

By Administrator Gina McCarthy

This week, Pope Francis made an historic visit to Washington, DC, where he met with President Obama, addressed Congress, and lead a public rally to support moral action on climate justice.

This summer, the Pope issued a landmark encyclical emphasizingour moral obligation to act on climate change – for the sake of our kids and vulnerable populations around the world. His visit to Washington this week is a reminder that taking action is as urgent as ever to protect our “common home”.

At EPA, we couldn’t agree more. Environmental justice is at the core of everything we do – including our work to address climate change. Climate change is personal—it affects every American. But low-income and minority communities are particularly vulnerable to climate-related changes like stronger storms, floods, fires, and droughts. And on top of that, they are often the least able to rebuild after a disaster.

Low-income and minority Americans are also more likely to live in the shadow of polluting industries like power plants, and more likely to be exposed to higher levels of pollution. And the carbon pollution driving climate change comes packaged with other dangerous soot- and smog-forming pollutants that can lead to lung and heart disease.

More than 10 million American children have been diagnosed with asthma. But black and Latino children, as well as children from low-income families, are more likely to suffer from asthma and respiratory problems than other kids are.

Of course, climate change isn’t just happening here in the U.S. Citizens in low-lying countries like Bangladesh and Pacific Island nations are retreating from sea level rise; parts of Africa are facing blistering drought, threatening the food supply; indigenous people in the Arctic are seeing summer sea-ice recede to unprecedented levels.

We all have roles to play in taking action on behalf of those who bear the brunt of the effects of climate change. And by working together, we can meet the challenge. This message was crystal clear in the Pope’s recent encyclical:

“Human beings, while capable of the worst, are also capable of rising above themselves, choosing again what is good, and making a new start.”

I’m so proud to be able to say that the United States is stepping up to this call.

EPA’s Clean Power Plan puts our Nation on track to slash carbon pollution from the power sector 32 percent below 2005 levels by 2030—all while keeping energy reliable and affordable. As we speak, states across the country are putting pen to paper and crafting plans for implementation.

The faith community has been an extraordinary catalyst for climate action, and we’ve seen incredible support and progress from the private sector as well. Businesses of all sizes are embracing the task, working to reduce their carbon footprints, planning for future climate change, and propelling innovative clean energy solutions forward. I also continue to be encouraged by the steps being taken by our partners around the world, including economies large and small and some of the world’s biggest emitters.

This collective momentum makes me confident that a global climate agreement will be reached in Paris later this year. And it gives me hope that we will rise to the Pope’s moral call: to protect the least of these, and to safeguard a beautiful, abundant planet full of opportunity for our kids and for generations to come.

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. 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.