Urban Air Toxics Report Shows Reduced Pollution in Communities

Janet McCabe Janet McCabe

By Janet McCabe

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Reducing toxic air emissions has been a priority for EPA, and I am proud of the progress that we’ve made in communities across the country. Today, we released our Urban Air Toxics Report to Congress – the second of two reports required under the Clean Air Act (CAA) to inform Congress of progress in reducing public health risks from urban air toxics. I want to share some of the highlights with you.

The report shows significant nationwide reductions in toxic chemicals in the air in our communities. That’s good news for public health, because the Clean Air Act identifies 187 hazardous air pollutants, about half of which are known or suspected to cause cancer. Many can cause other health effects, such as damage to the immune, respiratory, neurological, reproductive and developmental systems.

And while emissions of air toxics affect everyone living in this country, the data tell us that the risk can be higher for people living in cities, and particularly those in low income and minority neighborhoods.

But, we’re making significant progress: Since 1994, we found a 66 percent reduction in benzene and a nearly 60 percent reduction in mercury from sources like coal-fired power plants. Levels of lead – a dangerous neurotoxin that can affect the brain development of children – are down nearly 85 percent in outdoor air. The report also finds that we’ve removed about three million tons of hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) per year from the air in our communities by controlling emissions from smokestacks and tailpipes. We’ve also reduced toxics air pollution from businesses like dry cleaners and autobody shops that are located right in our neighborhoods.

   Click to Read the Report

Click to Read the Report

And we’re continuing our work to make communities healthier. For example, we recently proposed updates to emission standards for petroleum refineries. There are nearly 150 petroleum refineries across the country and the facilities are often located near communities. Our proposed standards would reduce emissions of chemicals such as benzene, toluene, and xylene by 5,600 tons per year. For the first time, EPA is proposing to require fenceline monitoring to help ensure that emissions standards are met and nearby communities are protected. The data will be available for the public to see – transparency helps the community understand what’s in the air and helps with compliance. Common-sense strategies such as these will help us further reduce toxic air pollution and protect public health in communities across United States.

Administrator McCarthy has said that, “EPA’s mission to protect public health and the environment is driven by a fundamental belief that regardless of who you are or where you come from, we all have a right to clean air to breathe, safe water to drink, and healthy land to call our home.” EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation works everyday to to address environmental inequity in minority and low income communities and to give everyone the opportunity to participate fully and meaningfully in the regulatory process.

We are working closely with state, local and tribal agencies to promote local, area-wide and regional strategies as we continue to address air toxics. We also support a number of community-based programs that help residents understand, prioritize and reduce exposures to toxic pollutants in their neighborhood. I am very proud of the accomplishments outlined in today’s report, but I know we still have much to do to bring clean air to our communities. I am excited to continue our work with communities, businesses and state, local and tribal governments to reduce exposure to toxic chemicals and protect public health and the environment.

About the author: Janet McCabe is the Acting Assistant Administrator for the Office of Air and Radiation (OAR), having previously served as the OAR’s Principal Deputy to the Assistant Administrator.

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.

Partnerships Show Huge Potential to Address Climate Change

Janet McCabe Janet McCabe

Last Friday, EPA’s Office of Atmospheric Programs (OAP) released its annual report on its climate partnership programs. The report is notable not just because some of these voluntary programs started more than 20 years ago, but also because it shows just how much partnerships can accomplish.

ES_AnnualReport_2012_Figure2_cropped

In 2012, more than 21,000 organizations and millions of Americans partnered with EPA through OAP’s climate partnerships and prevented more than 365 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions, equal to the annual electricity use of over 50 million homes. That’s one million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions per day.

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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.

EPA and Freddie Mac: Saving Families Money and Reducing Greenhouse Gas Pollution

Janet McCabe Janet McCabe

Energy efficiency is one of the clearest and most cost-effective ways to save families money, make our businesses more competitive, and reduce greenhouse gas pollution that contributes to climate change.

This is one of the reasons I am excited to have just signed a memorandum of understanding with Freddie Mac, one of the largest lenders in the U.S. Freddie Mac and EPA’s Energy Star program have agreed to focus together on improving the energy efficiency of multifamily buildings, like apartment buildings, condos and co-ops. This is truly a win-win for the environment and for families all across the country.

The agreement outlines strategies to save energy, water, and money for multifamily property owners and residents. This is one important step toward fulfilling the President’s Climate Action Plan goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions through energy efficiency.

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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.

Radon Action Month – Test, Fix, Save a Life

Janet McCabe Janet McCabe

If you’re like most people that make New Year’s resolutions, you’re probably trying to start the year off on the right foot by doing things to improve your health. Just go to nearly any gym during the first few weeks of January and you’ll see what I mean! Whether or not you resolved to be healthier in 2014, there is one easy-to-do step that you can take to protect the health of you and your family: test your home for radon.

Radon is a radioactive gas that comes from the breakdown of natural uranium deposits in soil and it can seep into homes through their foundation. High levels have been found in homes all across the country. EPA estimates that one in fifteen U.S. homes has elevated radon levels – but in some areas, the number can be as high as one out of every two.

And why is radon a health issue? Because it can be deadly. Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States. Only smoking causes more. EPA estimates that about 21,000 people die from radon-induced lung cancer each year. It’s a very serious problem, but luckily there are simple solutions.

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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.

The Proposed 2014 Renewable Fuels Standards: Considering Options and Seeking Input

Janet McCabe Janet McCabe

Today, EPA released the 2014 Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) Proposal, and we’re asking for your input on how to encourage  the production and use of renewable energy while balancing practical constraints on the pace at which the market is currently accommodating ethanol above a threshold known as the ethanol “blend wall.”

If you don’t think about energy policy every day, you might be asking yourself, “what’s a ‘blend wall’?”

The answer to that question goes back to 2007, when Congress passed the Energy Independence and Security Act. That legislation created the RFS program, which lays the foundation for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and reducing America’s dependence on oil by growing our nation’s renewable fuels sector.

The RFS program set a target for the renewable fuels to be blended into transportation fuel that rises each year until 2022. Ethanol generally goes into the nation’s supply of E10, gasoline with up to 10 percent ethanol that is sold across the Unites States. In the years between when Congress created that program and today, production of renewable fuels has grown rapidly, but at the same time, fuel economy improvements and other factors have pushed gasoline consumption far lower than what was expected.

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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.

Save Energy by Doing 1 Thing ENERGY STAR

Janet McCabe Janet McCabe

ES highres logoEver heard that saying “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step?”

This adage rings true for EPA’s ENERGY STAR program. ENERGY STAR makes it easy to take simple energy-saving steps that add up to some pretty big results. Just by switching out one bulb with an ENERGY STAR certified LED bulb, you can use 75% less energy and save $135 over the product’s lifetime.  How’s that for motivation?

That’s what this week’s launch of the “Do 1 Thing ENERGY STAR” social media campaign is all about. Each week through Facebook and Twitter, EPA will provide tips to make it easy to save energy. From washing laundry with cold water, to sealing and insulating your home, to staying in ENERGY STAR certified hotels, or even giving  ENERGY STAR labeled electronics for holiday gifts – there are tips for every budget and situation. And, the more you do, the more energy and money you will save.

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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.

Vigorous Public Outreach to Cut Carbon Pollution and Fight Climate Change

Janet McCabe Janet McCabe

In carrying out President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, EPA is conducting unprecedented and vigorous outreach and public engagement with key stakeholders and the general public. That’s especially true with our proposed commonsense standards to cut carbon pollution from new power plants—and it’s the case leading up to next year when we propose guidelines for states to use in addressing carbon pollution from existing power plants.

In preparing the guidelines for existing power plants, EPA leadership, including Administrator McCarthy, has been meeting with industry leaders and CEOs from the coal, oil, and natural gas sectors. We’ve been working with everyone from governors, mayors, Members of Congress, state and local government officials – from every region of the country — to environmental groups, health organizations, faith groups, and many others. We’re doing this because we know that carbon pollution guidelines for existing power plants require flexibility and sensitivity to state and regional differences. We want to be open to any and all information about what is important to each state and stakeholders. That’s what this process is all about.

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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.

Introducing… The Breathe Easies

Janet McCabe Janet McCabe

In my job I don’t usually have the pleasure of introducing rock bands. And, I may not get this chance again. So, today allow me the pleasure of welcoming The Breathe Easies!

The Breathe Easies are an asthma-centric rock band of colorful puppet characters, who are one-of-their-kind originals in the world. They are part of a new PSA campaign we launched today with the Ad Council to help raise awareness of the simple steps parents and young children with asthma can take to help prevent asthma attacks.

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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.