A Record Investment

by Tom Damm

 3…2…1…  On cue, EPA, state and local officials dug their shovels into the softened dirt to formally kick off major upgrades to the wastewater treatment plant in Reading, Pennsylvania.

There was reason to be all smiles as the battery of professional and smart phone cameras captured the moment.  The improvements will contribute to local economic growth and lead to cleaner plant discharges to the Schuylkill River, where concerted efforts along the waterway are improving a drinking water source for more than 1.5 million people.

For EPA, it was the largest amount of water infrastructure funding ever applied to a single project in the Mid-Atlantic region – nearly $150 million – a fact that EPA Acting Regional Administrator Cecil Rodrigues shared with the audience at the groundbreaking ceremony.

The record sum of low-interest financing from EPA’s Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF) was provided to Reading through actions of the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority, or PENNVEST.

Coincidentally, the day before the event, the PENNVEST board approved a series of projects that brought the collective total of its infrastructure investment efforts to more than $8 billion over nearly three decades.   The CWSRF and EPA’s Drinking Water State Revolving Fund together supplied about half of that total.

The upgrades to the Fritz Island plant will allow for growth in the system that now treats sewage for about 200,000 residents in Reading and a dozen suburban communities.  By taking advantage of the 1 percent CWSRF rate compared to current market rates for bonds, Reading is expected to save almost $2.5 million over 20 years.

The plant upgrades are targeted for completion by late 2019 when officials will trade their shiny, ceremonial shovels for sets of oversized scissors.

You can learn more here about the CWSRF and the projects financed in your area.  And check out this link for information on a major boost in funding just approved for EPA’s Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act program.

 

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

 

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.

Historias exitosas del Programa de Capacitación de Empleos y Desarrollo de la Fuerza Laboral Ambiental

Tacoma, Washington

El Programa de Capacitación de Empleos y Desarrollo de la Fuerza Laboral Ambiental de la EPA (EWDJT, por sus siglas en inglés) está destinado a mejorar la salud ambiental de las comunidades a nivel nacional mientras mejora el medio de sustento para los residentes que viven en estas comunidades. A lo largo de los años, los programas EWDJT han sido implementados en todo el país, impactando las vidas de muchos. En sus propias palabras, vea cómo el programa EWDJT de Brownfields de la EPA permitió que Ricardo Loza combiara su carrera:

Pasé más de 20 años de mi vida professional en el negocio de transportación, trabajando en operaciones, cotización de precios y gerencia antes de perder mi empleo durante la recesión del 2008. En enero del 2013, después de estar desempleado por casi cinco años, me encontré en Tacoma, WA solicitando cupones de alimentos por la primera vez en mi vida. Como mucha gente, he tenido tiempos buenos y tiempos malos; este para mí fue el punto más bajo de mi vida. Mientras salía de la oficina del Departamento de Servicios Sociales y de Salud de Washington, vi una boletin acerca del programa de capacitación de empleos ambientales de la Ciudad de Tacoma.

Regresé adonde me estaba quedando y le dije a la persona de la cual estaba alquilando la habitación, que tuviera paciencia conmigo porque iba a tomar un curso de seis semanas. Por suerte, aplazaron el plago de mi alquiler por dos meses. El día de la orientación, vi todos los libros de texto y me pregunté a mí mismo en qué situación me había metido.

Lo que parecía una labor insuperable se convirtió en una progresión paso a paso hacia el aprendizaje de las destrezas para cada certificación, gracias a mis instructores increibles, Chris Goodman y Bill Routely, nos mantuvimos centrados en la meta. A mi edad de 50 años, yo era la persona con mayor edad en la clase y me sentía desaventajado. Un sentimiento que tan solo se exacerbó cuando empecé a buscar trabajo.

Como parte de la ceremonia de graduación, había una hoja de TCB Industrial para alistarse para asistir a una entrevista de grupo. Recibí una llamada de quien se convertiría en mi predecesora para que asistiera. Como TCB era un contratista de empleos temporeros, pensé que iba a ganar algún dinero y luego buscar un empleado permanente. Cuando nuestro grupo comenzó a retirarse, le mencioné que cuando revisara mi resumé viera que ya yo tenia varios años de experiencia administrativa y de trabajar en oficinas. Le dije que yo podría aplicar mi reciente capacitación en el negocio de manejo de materiales peligrosos en conjunto con mi existente experiencia en el suite Microsoft para trabajar como oficinista temporero para ayudar a TCB.

Sin saberlo, ella acababa de someter su notificación de renuncia de dos semanas a TCB Industrial el día anterior. Luego me enteré que ella había sometido mi nombre y mi resumé al dueño de TCB para que yo fuera su possible reemplazo. Me llamaron para una segunda entrevista. Salió bien. El combinar mi experiencia previa, con la capacitación medioambiental reciente me convirtió en el candidato perfecto, lo cual me ha llevado a donde estoy hoy: el Director de Operaciones para el Pacifico Noroeste de la Corporación Industrial TCB.

Estoy seguro que mi patrono actual no me hubiese considerado sin la capacitación directa de HAZWOPER provista bajo el programa brownfields financiado por la EPA. Es un gran honor, placer y privilegio continuar trabajando con el Colegio Técnico de Clover Park, y los Juegos de la Buena Voluntad de los Juegos Olímpicos, y con la EPA. Nuestros esfuerzos combinados han permitido que TCB Industrial emplee a varios graduandos del prorama de capacitación de empleos de la EPA y los coloque en varios proyectos brownfields en la region de Puget Sound.

Nada de esto hubiese sido possible sin el Programa de Capacitación de Empleos y Desarrollo de la Fuerza Laboral Ambiental. Por ello estoy eternamente agradecido.

Sinceramente,

Ricardo Loza

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.

Environmental Workforce Development and Job Training Success Stories: Richmond, California

EPA’s Environmental Workforce Development and Job Training (EWDJT) program is aimed at improving the environmental health of communities nationwide while improving the livelihood of the residents who live in those communities. Over the years, successful EWDJT programs have been implemented throughout the country, impacting the lives of many. In his own words, here is how the EPA Brownfields EWDJT program allowed Jonathan Brito to change his career:

Environmental Workforce Development and Job Training Success Stories: Richmond, California

Before I started on my journey at the RichmondBUILD Academy, I was a father to a beautiful 3-year-old daughter, and I had just been laid off of my 6-year career as an auto body technician. I ran into many career dead ends and depression set in. I then found myself in the middle of a heavy drug addiction.  I lost everything and found myself on the streets living a very hard life. I knew that I had to make things better and heard about a local job training program through the media. This job training program helped local residents, such as myself, start a career in the environmental remediation and construction industry with good living wages.

Jonathan Brito in his Tyvek suit during EPA funded HAZWOPER 40-hour training.

I was very fortunate to become a student at the RichmondBUILD Academy. I must admit it was not easy to get in the Academy and even harder to endure the twelve weeks of intensive training. They pushed me physically and mentally. They helped me regain my self-esteem and confidence. Through the RichmondBUILD program, I learned the skills and knowledge necessary to enter the environmental industry and earned valuable certifications, such as my Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (HAZWOPER) 40-hour certification, OSHA 10-hour, work zone safety, and first aid/CPR. The Academy also taught me to follow my passion: Solar!

Since my graduation, I’ve worked on the Freethy Industrial Park, a new, two-megawatt, ground-mounted solar project in Richmond and I’m currently employed with Ally Electric doing residential solar installation. I’ve also interviewed with firms that will install solar panels at a new 49-acre, 10.5 MW ground mount solar farm on a former brownfield site in Richmond, California. Most importantly, I have the love of my daughter and family again!

I owe a huge debt of gratitude to the City of Richmond, EPA, and the RichmondBUILD Academy. I don’t know where I’d be today without them. I’m forever thankful for the opportunities that have been presented to me. As I look to the future, I would like to become a local contractor and hire people that have been in the same predicament as me. And I will definitely hire them from RichmondBUILD!

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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.

Environmental Workforce Development and Job Training Success Stories: Tacoma, Washington

EPA’s Environmental Workforce Development and Job Training (EWDJT) program is aimed at improving the environmental health of communities nationwide while improving the livelihood of the residents who live in those communities. Over the years, successful EWDJT programs have been implemented throughout the country, impacting the lives of many. In his own words, here is how the EPA Brownfields EWDJT program allowed Ricardo Loza to change his career:

Environmental Workforce Development and Job Training Success Stories: Tacoma, Washington

I spent over 20 years of my professional life in the transportation business, working in operations, pricing and management before losing my job during the recession in 2008. In January 2013, after being unemployed for nearly five years, I found myself in Tacoma, WA applying for food stamps for the first time in my life. Like most people, I’ve had good and bad times; this for me was the very lowest point in my life. As I walked out of the Washington Department of Social and Health Services office, I spotted a flyer for the City of Tacoma’s environmental job training program.

I went back to where I was staying and asked the person I was renting a room from to please bear with me while I took a six-week course. Thankfully, they agreed to put off my rent for two months.
On orientation day, I saw all those text books and wondered what I had gotten myself into.

What seemed like an insurmountable task turned into a step by step progression in learning the skill for each certification, thanks to my wonderful instructors, Chris Goodman and Bill Routely, who kept us focused. At age 50, I was the oldest person in my class and I felt I was at a disadvantage. A feeling that was only exacerbated when I went to look for work.

As part of the graduation ceremony, there was a sign-up sheet for TCB Industrial to attend a group interview. I got a call back from my would-be predecessor asking me to attend. With TCB being a temporary labor contractor, my thought was I could gather some money and move forward looking for permanent employment. As our group was leaving, I mentioned to her that when she reviews my resume she will see I have several years of administrative and office experience. I told her I could apply my recent training in the hazardous materials business along with my existing years of experience with the full Microsoft suite to work as temporary office help for TCB.

Unbeknownst to me, she had just submitted her two weeks’ notice to TCB Industrial the day prior. I found out later that she submitted my name and resume to the owner of TCB as her possible replacement. I was called back in for a second interview. It went well. Combining my previous experience and recent environmental training made me the perfect candidate, which has led me to where I am today: The Pacific Northwest Director Operations for TCB Industrial Corporation.

I am certain I wouldn’t have been considered by my current employer without the direct HAZWOPER training provided by the EPA funded brownfields program. It’s a great honor, pleasure and privilege to continue to work with Clover Park Technical College, Goodwill of the Olympics, and EPA. Our combined efforts have allowed TCB Industrial to hire several EPA job training graduates and place them with brownfields projects throughout the Puget Sound region.

None of this would have been possible without the EPA Environmental Workforce Development and Job Training program. For that I will be forever grateful.

Sincerely,
Ricardo Loza

 

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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.

Brownfields Job Training is a Win-Win for Job Creation and Environmental Protection

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

For nearly two decades, our Environmental Workforce Development and Job Training program has helped put people to work by building a skilled, local environmental workforce equipped to take advantage of the job opportunities created when cleaning up brownfields sites. The program awards competitive grants to nonprofit organizations and other eligible entities to recruit, train and place unemployed and underemployed individuals living in brownfields communities, in a wide range of environmental careers. By doing so, EPA has touched and changed the lives of thousands of local community members, often including low-income and minority residents, and other individuals with extreme barriers to employment, by helping them develop skills they can use to find sustainable careers and opportunities for economic advancement.

Approximately 16,300 individuals have completed training, and of those, more than 11,900 individuals have been placed in full-time employment earning an average starting wage of over $14 an hour. This equates to a cumulative job placement rate of 73 percent of graduates.

EPA is pleased to announce today the selection of 14 new entities that continue this local approach to environmental protection.

To hear directly from individuals who have completed training funded by EPA’s Environmental Workforce Development and Job Training program, please visit:

For more information on Environmental Workforce Development and Job Training grantees, including past EWDJT grantees, please visit:
https://cfpub.epa.gov/bf_factsheets/

For more information on EPA’s Environmental Workforce Development and Job Training program, please visit:
https://www.epa.gov/brownfields/environmental-workforce-development-and-job-training-grants

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.

Videos from Administrator Pruitt’s Visit to Capitol Hill

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Since the Environmental Protection Agency’s founding in 1970, Congress has had a unique and important role to play in EPA policy and funding. Members of Congress and their constituents back home understand the importance of EPA’s work and need the agency to be responsive.  Now, under the new leadership of President Trump and Administrator Pruitt, EPA has developed an agenda that focuses on protecting the environment by engaging, listening to and learning from states and local communities. On Wednesday morning, Administrator Pruitt met individually with U.S. Representatives, both Democrat and Republican, to talk about environmental and economic issues facing our country and the Members’ districts.

Listen to Congressman John Shimkus of Illinois talk about the new leadership at EPA:

Following his meetings in the U.S. House,  Administrator Pruitt met with several Senators, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman John Barrasso.

Watch Senator Barrasso’s response to an EPA that is getting back-to-basics:

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.

EPA Working With States on Real Solutions for Coal Ash Disposal

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

EPA is working more closely with the states to find real solutions that allow manufacturing, energy production, and other parts of the economy to create jobs while protecting the natural resources on which our lives depend.

One area where coordination with the states is picking up is in how coal ash is managed. States are better equipped to determine how to coal ash in their states should be managed and recycled, but EPA can – and has — set a federal standard. Thanks to a new law by Congress, the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act (WIIN Act), states are now authorized to manage coal ash under their own permit programs as long as the EPA determines that the state’s requirements are at least as protective as the federal standards.

Building on his Back-to-Basics agenda for refocusing EPA on its core mission and returning power to the states, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt sent a letter this week informing Governors that EPA is working on guidance for state-led coal ash disposal programs under the WIIN Act.

Administrator Pruitt’s letter urges the swift submission of permit programs by states and cooperation to help states get their programs approved under the WIIN Act in order to place regulation and enforcement in the hands of those who best know the needs of their environment and local communities.

Click here to view Administrator Pruitt’s letter.

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.