region 8

Good for the Environment = Good for Business in Montana

What do a big box-retailer, a coffee house, and an automotive shop in Montana’s beautiful capital city have in common?  The Tri-County Green Business Program.

The Tri-County Green Business Program is an innovative effort that helps local businesses roll up their sleeves and take on energy and water -efficiency projects in Lewis and Clark County, Montana. Aided by a $300,000 EPA Climate Community Showcase grant, the green business program got off the ground just two years ago. Since then, it has taken on a life of its own, providing expertise and grants to area businesses. To date, the program has funded over 150 projects and has certified 13 businesses as green leaders.

The Climate Showcase Communities Program is a great example of our efforts to help real people make a real difference in their community. The program helps local governments work directly with businesses and residents to implement greenhouse gas reduction projects. Today, 50 Climate Showcase Communities across the United States are reducing energy use and greenhouse gas emissions — and saving money. These include projects related to renewable energy, residential and commercial energy efficiency, waste management, transportation, and land use.

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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.

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Seeing the Devastation First Hand

There are many roles a Regional Administrator must play in the daily work of protecting the environment and human health. Recently, I played what I consider to be one of my most important roles: listening to and assisting the citizens in our region as we recover from devastating flooding.

The small mountain town has been cut off because of Boulder County flood. FEMA Urban Search & Rescue (US&R) teams deployed to the state to help in Search and Rescue operations. Photo credit: Steve Zumwalt FEMA

This small mountain town has been cut off because of Boulder County flood. FEMA Urban Search & Rescue (US&R) teams deployed to the state to help in Search and Rescue operations. Photo credit: Steve Zumwalt FEMA

I saw firsthand how an extreme weather event can impact an entire state. Seven lives were lost in the floods in Colorado this year. Over 2,000 square miles spanning 17 counties have been affected. Numerous roads are destroyed and thousands of homes are lost. It’s a sobering reminder that such extreme events are predicted to become even more frequent because of the changing climate.

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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.

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Inspired by the Next Generation

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(left to right) Emma Hutchinson, Administrator Gina McCarthy, Eric Bear, Milo Cress, and Christina Bear

After serving as EPA’s regional administrator in Denver for only a few months, I am already impressed with the incredible staff we have here at EPA. I am also equally encouraged by what I have seen from our younger generations and the level of their environmental commitment. I recently had a chance to visit with several young people who are making a huge difference. These young folks attended the recent Climate Change Panel in Boulder, Colorado and had a chance to talk with me and EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy.

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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.

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Ain’t No Mountain High Enough

By: Christina Motilall

When I close my eyes and picture the Rocky Mountains one word always comes to mind: Majestic.

That is why it troubles me to know this beautiful landscape (like many around the world) is threatened by air pollution. This pollution can not only harm the environment—it can harm those who live in it. That is why the work of Adam Eisele is crucial.

An environmental engineer for EPA’s Region 8 (Mountains and Plains), Adam researches sources of air toxics and Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) in the area. VOCs are organic compounds (chemical compounds with molecules that contain carbon) that are both natural and man-made. They can affect anything from your eyes to your kidneys, in your home and out of it.

Adam says, “I chose to study air toxics and VOCs because the more I learned about this stuff, the more I realized how dangerous it was to us at certain concentrations.”

Adam Eisele (center) accepting the PECASE award, with EPA Science Advisor Dr. Glenn Paulson (left) and Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, Dr. John Holdren (right).

Doing work in Bolivia and then Colorado, Adam paints answers with a broad scientific brush, analyzing how these pollutants work at low and high elevations and what effect that may have on human health. Adam explains, “Altitude certainly has an effect on air toxics, causing pollutants to behave a bit differently than we typically see at or near sea level… This all leads to complicated air quality management.  I helped design air monitoring strategies using scarce resources to protect the public by tracking and trending air quality.”

I believe the members of the public that will benefit from Adam’s research and community engagement are far-reaching because not just one type of community is at risk from VOCs and air toxics. Adam said, “It’s tough to ‘see’ air pollution a lot of the time, so I do what I can to make something that’s invisible and potentially harmful visible to the communities that may be affected by it.”

And he is a doing a great job at it. So great that he was one of two EPA scientists recently awarded the prestigious Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) by President Barack Obama. “Shaking President Obama’s hand, I mentioned I work for EPA, to which he replied ‘Keep up the good work.’ It was pretty incredible.”

I agree with the President. Keep up the good work, Adam; it seems there ain’t no mountain high enough to keep you from protecting human health and the environment.

About the author: Christina Motilall is an intern for the Office of Research and Development’s Science Communications Team.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action.

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