By Judith Enck
This week is Public Service Recognition Week. It’s a time for us to celebrate and honor those who serve our nation in all levels of government. I want to take a moment to talk specifically about the people here in EPA’s regional office in New York – serving New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico, USVI and eight tribal nations in New York. There is a common misconception that government workers are lazy bureaucrats. In my experience as Regional Administrator at the EPA, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Over the past seven years, I have had the privilege of working alongside some of the most committed individuals I have ever worked with, some of whom you have gotten to know through this blog and many of whom have dedicated their entire careers to protecting the environment and safeguarding public health. Thanks to the hard work of people here at EPA, Americans enjoy:
Cleaner cars – cleaner everything! Vehicles emit drastically less pollution than even only a decade ago. Also, trucks, buses, ships, locomotives and even construction equipment are all much cleaner today, making the air we breathe healthier.
Cleaner lakes, streams and oceans –thanks to EPA regulations restricting what can be discharged into our waters. Many of our urban rivers are badly polluted by unfettered industrial practices, but the EPA is working to clean those rivers up, including the Passaic River, Newtown Creek and the Gowanus Canal right here in the metro area.
Land being cleaned up and turned back to the community. Through a variety of programs, such as Superfund and brownfields, the EPA has worked to successfully turn areas once written off as too contaminated back into community assets.
Consumer products that are less harmful. Paints no longer contain lead and give off less fumes. Safer Choice Labels help consumers choose cleaning products with less toxic ingredients.
We all benefit from EPA’s work. People across America are living better, healthier lives because of the work we do.
This week, I hope you are able to reflect on the critical role public servants play in our daily lives. Maybe even thank a friend or family member for his or her service. The recognition is well-deserved.
About the author: Judith Enck is the Regional Administrator of EPA Region 2, which serves New York, New Jersey, Eight tribal nations, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. She is a native New Yorker who currently resides in Brooklyn.