EPA’s Support of Rural America in 2020

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By Carrie Vicenta Meadows
Agriculture Advisor to Administrator Wheeler

To fulfill the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s mission to protect human health and the environment, we need support from all Americans. We know that farmers and ranchers are the original stewards of the land and should be our natural partners Administrator Andrew Wheeler has made it a priority of EPA to engage more effectively with the agriculture community and rebuild trust with rural America. A large part of my job has been working on enhancing and strengthening both EPA’s outreach and partnerships with farmers and ranchers.

With the release of EPA’s Support of Rural America in 2020 Report, we celebrate the success of EPA’s partnership with agriculture communities. This report makes clear, that agriculture remains a top priority for EPA. Our report details how EPA worked to restore trust through proactive engagement with the agriculture community, delivered regulatory relief and certainty to U.S. agriculture, and provided environmental support through grants and other tools.

In the past year, through proactive engagement we have seen the reinstatement of the Farm, Ranch and Rural Communities Federal Advisory Committee, cooperative agreements with state and national groups, and partnership on projects in rural America. Our team logged countless meetings with farmers, ranchers and agriculture groups across the country, showing up to listen and offering solution to their concerns.

Across our ten regions and at Headquarters, EPA has strengthened collaboration and communication with agriculture stakeholders. Administrator Wheeler signed a first-time MOU with the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy in November, while twelve state departments of agriculture and two state farm bureaus signed MOU agreements with their respective regions.

2020 marked a year full of challenges for agricultural producers. EPA recognizes the extraordinary situation the agriculture industry has faced since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak. To provide certainty, EPA listened to the agriculture community on what’s happening locally and offered guidance and temporary policies to provide solutions to ensure continuity in the food supply.

EPA worked deliver regulatory relief and certainty to U.S. agriculture, in past year by replacing the Waters of the U.S. rule with the now final Navigable Waters Protection Rule providing clarity, predictability and consistency to landowners in rural America. EPA also worked to ensure that farmers have the crop protection tools that they need to use in their fields, approving new uses for existing pesticides and registering new active ingredients for farmers to utilize in their crop plans. EPA also took actions to meet the environmental needs of U.S. agriculture through announcing new grant opportunities and expanding biofuel pathways. EPA has delivered decisions which are clear, transparent and based on sound science.

As we look back at EPA’s engagement with the agriculture community in 2020, we see great progress in restoring trust with rural America. Administrator Wheeler and has worked to ensure agriculture voices have a seat at the table, and we want to keep hearing from you. I’d like to invite you to reach out to your Regional Ag Advisor or email us at Headquarters ruraloutreach@epa.gov. We must continue to celebrate the work by American agriculture and rural America to protect our natural resources and strengthen our partnership with farmers and ranchers to ultimately reach our shared commitment to protecting the land, water and air.

 

About the Author: Carrie Vicenta Meadows is the Agriculture Advisor to Administrator Wheeler. The role of the Agriculture Advisor’s Office is acting as a primary advocate and liaison for U.S. agriculture at EPA.

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.

Quality Data: An Essential Element of Chemical Safety

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Alexandra Dapolito Dunn, Assistant Administrator of U.S. EPA Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution PreventionBy Alexandra Dapolito Dunn
Assistant Administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention

Good decisions start with good information. As we work through the process to evaluate any potential risks from chemicals in the marketplace, it’s critical that we have high-quality, robust data on these chemicals. This information is the foundation for our risk evaluations and will ultimately guide our decisions about the risks to public health and the environment and the actions we’ll take to reduce those risks.

Getting good data doesn’t happen in a vacuum. It’s a partnership between EPA and our stakeholders. Investing in data gathering can have short- and long-term returns for everyone involved. For example, without the needed data, we may have to default to estimates or modeling that don’t accurately reflect the real-world use of and exposure to a chemical. But, the more we know about a chemical, the better our analysis and decision-making will be, ultimately resulting in better protections for public health and the environment.

TSCA also recognizes that gathering good data is a partnership. The Lautenberg Act amendments to TSCA expanded our authority to obtain information from chemical manufacturers and processors to fill data gaps in our risk evaluations.

As we look to evaluating the risks for the next 20 chemicals, we’ll be open to using all the tools TSCA provides for data gathering, including issuing test orders. It also means that we will only use tools like test orders when necessary to provide the information needed to adequately conduct a risk evaluation. We’re also committed to engaging with companies and other stakeholders throughout the process, to strengthen our partnerships.

Data is power. Strong data allows us to zero in on the true risks of a chemical and makes the risk evaluation process more durable now and into the future. As we continue to build the processes, policies, and resources to review the more than 40,000 chemicals currently in the marketplace, we will continue to focus on collecting data in a way that’s transparent, reasonable, and, most importantly, protects public health and the environment.

For more information, visit: https://www.epa.gov/assessing-and-managing-chemicals-under-tsca/data-development-and-information-collection-assess-risks.

 

About the author: Alexandra Dapolito Dunn is the Assistant Administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. Prior to that she served as the Regional Administrator for EPA Region 1, and her responsibilities included overseeing the states of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont and ten tribal nations. Read more.

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.

Celebrating a Win-Win: 30 Years of Progress Under the Pollution Prevention Act

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Alexandra Dapolito Dunn, Assistant Administrator of U.S. EPA Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution PreventionBy Alexandra Dapolito Dunn
Assistant Administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention

On this day in 1990, a new era was ushered in for EPA and the nation when the Pollution Prevention (P2) Act was signed into law.  The act gave the agency new tools to join with states, tribes, and communities to prevent pollution before it happens.  It also marked a shift in the paradigm of environmental protection which had been mostly focused on end-of-pipe pollution control and clean-up strategies.

Equally important, the P2 act strengthened EPA’s role as an ally of American businesses, helping them save billions of dollars and improve operations. As EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler has said, “It’s far better to prevent pollution from occurring than to go in after the fact and clean it up.”

The P2 Act greatly expanded the opportunities for “source reduction” to reduce or prevent pollution at the source through cost-effective changes in production, operation, and raw materials use. These changes can reduce the amount of pollution entering a waste stream or the environment prior to recycling, treatment or disposal, and can offer industry substantial savings in reduced raw material, pollution control, pollution clean-up and liability costs.

One of EPA’s first pollution prevention successes was with its 33/50 Program, a voluntary program under which companies committed to reduce their releases of 17 top priority chemicals 33 percent by 1992 and by 50 percent by 1995. Subsequent EPA programs built on the 33/50 and P2 model and are still working to reduce pollution across the country today including EPA’s WaterSense, Safer Choice, Environmentally Preferable Purchasing, Green Chemistry, and our SmartWay Transport Partnership Program.  President Trump acknowledged the effectiveness of these and other EPA programs in a 2018 Executive Order that directed federal agencies to use EPA’s P2 resources to meet their statutory sustainable purchasing requirements.

The P2 Act also serves as an authority for collecting information from reporting facilities through the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) about their management of certain toxic chemicals, including source reduction approaches. Since this reporting began in 1991, we have learned that over 24,000 unique facilities have taken more than 450,000 actions to prevent pollution and reduce the amount of toxic chemicals entering the environment, such as spill and leak prevention measures, using safer chemicals, modifying industrial processes, and updating operating procedures.

Perhaps the most impactful and collaborative program to grow out of the P2 Act is EPA’s P2 Grants Program. Since 1990, EPA has awarded more than 1,200 grants to state, tribal, non-profit, and university partners to work directly with U.S. businesses to develop and implement source reduction techniques. With the assistance from P2 grants, businesses have been able to save over $1.5 billion since 2011 while also reducing the use of hazardous materials by over 570 million pounds.

As we celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Pollution Prevention Act today, I would like to thank all our state and local pollution prevention partners, as well as all the businesses that have joined with us to score a true win-win for the American people.

 

About the author: Alexandra Dapolito Dunn is the Assistant Administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. Prior to that she served as the Regional Administrator for EPA Region 1, and her responsibilities included overseeing the states of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont and ten tribal nations. Read more.

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.

Education Plus Action Equals Healthy Children!

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Lead Awareness in Indian Country: Keeping our Children Healthy!By Alexandra Dapolito Dunn, Assistant Administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention; and
Scott Mason, Director for the American Indian Environmental Office

In celebration of Children’s Health Month, we are excited to kick off this year’s National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week by showcasing Lead Awareness in Indian Country: Keeping our Children Healthy! – a new curriculum to help tribes and communities take the first step in protecting children from potential lead exposure by educating parents and caregivers. The curriculum is a robust set of educational tools that community leaders can use to improve public awareness of the health risks associated with lead exposure and promote actions to reduce this exposure.

Tribes can face some unique challenges when it comes to lead exposure. Due to their connection and dependence on the environment for the survival of their culture(s) and their subsistence practices, tribal and indigenous populations may have different potential sources of exposure to lead. That’s why we partnered with over 200 tribal representatives to understand the real-life situations these communities are facing and the preventative actions that make the most sense in their daily lives.

The curriculum uses an impressive design to balance diverse community backgrounds, technical information and localized knowledge to provide community leaders an opportunity to plan and deliver unique messages within each structured module. Instructors with local knowledge will use the curriculum to enhance learning experiences for parents, caregivers and other community members. One way the curriculum does this is by including tribal scenarios and stories, such as the use of lead fishing sinkers and cleanup efforts at Superfund sites to help bring a local awareness and understanding of lead exposure and prevention.

While focused on tribes, the curriculum is adaptable for all communities. Those who use the curriculum will find it educates participants on simple actions that anyone can take to reduce children’s potential exposure to lead, such as effective cleaning techniques, proper handwashing and good nutrition.

Protecting children from lead exposure remains a priority for EPA and for all communities. We encourage you to explore the curriculum to learn how to identify sources of and ways to reduce childhood lead exposure in your own community at https://www.epa.gov/lead/tribal-lead-curriculum.

 

About the authors: Alexandra Dapolito Dunn is the Assistant Administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. Prior to that she served as the Regional Administrator for EPA Region 1, and her responsibilities included overseeing the states of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont and ten tribal nations. Read more.
Scott Mason is Director of the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s American Indian Environmental Office. AIEO lead efforts across the agency to protect human health and the environment in Indian country. Before coming to EPA, Scott was a vice president and the executive director of federal programs at The University of Oklahoma, where he led state and federal relations for all three of the university’s campuses. Prior to joining OU, Scott served on the staff of Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin, as well as on her gubernatorial transition team. Scott is a proud citizen and enrolled member of the Cherokee Nation and is 5th generation western Oklahoman.

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.

Join EPA in Observing Children’s Health Month

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By Jeanne Briskin
Director of the Office of Children’s Health Protection

October is Children’s Health Month, a good reminder that children are often more vulnerable to pollutants than adults due to their differences in behavior and biology, which can lead to greater exposure and unique windows of susceptibility during development.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Children’s Health Protection (OCHP) leads the agency’s work regarding children’s environmental health and aims to ensure that all EPA actions and programs address the unique vulnerabilities of children.

OCHP works in a few key ways. OCHP scientists are in regular conversations with EPA’s other program offices to ensure that children’s unique vulnerabilities are considered and negative impacts to children are reduced in EPA’s policies, regulations, risk assessments, research and more. This coordination helps EPA meet the requirements of the 1997 Executive Order on the Protection of Children from Environmental Health Risks and Safety Risks (PDF) (EO 13045) and EPA’s 1995 Policy on Evaluating Risks to Children, which requires the agency to take into account environmental health risks to children. These policies are complemented by specific requirements in several EPA regulations that direct the agency to further evaluate and protect children’s environmental health. Examples of these additional statutory requirements include:

OCHP also convenes stakeholders. The Children’s Health Protection Advisory Committee (CHPAC), a body of external researchers, academics, and healthcare providers, provides advice related to children’s environmental health to EPA’s administrator. OCHP, along with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, co-chairs the President’s Task Force on Environmental Health Risks and Safety Risks to Children, established by the 1997 EO to coordinate efforts across the federal government to understand and consider environmental risks to children’s health.

Along with the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), EPA provides funding for Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Units (PEHSUs), a national network of specialists that provides training and resources for health professionals and the public in each of EPA’s 10 regions.

Over the last year, OCHP has established memorandums of understanding (MOUs) with two wide-reaching organizations – Zero to Three (ZTT) and the Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA).

Did you know that an average newborn drinks 2.7 oz of breastmilk or formula per pound of body weight each day? For an average adult male, this is equivalent to a whopping 35 12-oz beverages daily! This means that a baby drinks a much larger amount of water (though formula) by body weight compared to an adult, so clean and safe drinking water is even more critical to their healthy development.1 ZTT will help OCHP reach their network of parents and care providers of young children to share information on early exposure to environmental hazards – many of which can have lifelong health effects.

Through EPA’s MOU with FCCLA, high school students will be able to learn about environmental health. Students will be challenged to create a project that implements practical strategies to reduce exposures and protect children’s environmental health in their communities.

These are just some of the ways OCHP helps to ensure that children’s environmental health is protected, all year long. Do you want to know more? Check out www.epa.gov/children or www.epa.gov/schools, leave a question on for OCHP here, or reach us on our Twitter account @EPA!

1, Protecting Children’s Health Where They Live, Learn, and Play Impact Report (PDF 120pp)

 

About the author:  Jeanne Briskin is the Director of EPA’s Office of Children’s Health Protection (OCHP). Prior to joining OCHP, Jeanne served as the director of the Conflict Prevention and Resolution Center in the Office of General Counsel and has worked in many offices across EPA including Office of Air and Radiation, Office of Policy, Office of Research and Development, and Office of Water. Read more.

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.

Celebrating 25 Years of Success: National Environmental Performance Partnership System

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Douglas Benevento, U.S. EPA Associate Deputy AdministratorBy Douglas Benevento
Associate Deputy Administrator

In May 1995, EPA and the states entered into a joint agreement to establish the National Environmental Performance Partnership System (NEPPS) and committed to direct resources to improve environmental results, allow for greater flexibility, enhance accountability, and measure progress. Now celebrating its 25th successful year, NEPPS continues to serve as the leading example for fostering the EPA, state, and tribal partnership.

Since its inception, NEPPS has made a critical impact toward strengthening the partnerships that serve as the cornerstone of the success in protecting our nation’s environment. These partnerships are reliant upon continued consultation, collaboration, and shared accountability among all parties to provide the most effective use of resources and innovation.

A great example of this partnership can be seen in EPA Region 1, comprised of the six New England states. For over 23 years, EPA Region 1 has negotiated Performance Partnership Agreements (PPAs) with all the New England state environmental agencies, using Performance Partnership Grants (PPGs) as the funding vehicle. With support from the Regional Administrator, Deputy Regional Administrator, and senior leadership team, Region 1 has worked with the New England states to streamline grant processes, reduce reporting burden, maintain fiscal accountability, and enhance EPA/State collaboration.

The New England states needed to address budget shortfalls for environmental efforts. A request by the state of New Hampshire for help in eliminating waste through “lean” processes led to improvements and efficiencies in environmental work across New England. As a result of the lean events, a more streamlined process was implemented for PPA development and all six New England States expressed interest in piloting a new, two-year work plan process, jointly negotiated between EPA and State staff using SharePoint for further efficiency to implement changes in 2015.

Vincent Perelli of the NH Department of Environmental Services was a leader in convening all six New England states to commit to trying this new approach. The state partners worked with EPA Region 1 to design a new SharePoint site, which now serves as the E-Enterprise platform to conduct real-time, state work plan negotiations and provide the opportunity to spur program dialogue in a new way to allow codification of negotiated 2-year agreements in a single document. This was the first time that EPA New England used SharePoint for this type of E-Enterprise collaboration on such a large scale with external users. This involved significant time, effort and coordination within EPA and with state information technology offices to resolve issues as they emerged.

Despite the technical challenges of creating this new E-Enterprise approach, it has been very successful. A high level of interest has been shown nationally for using this model to improve joint strategic planning by EPA and states. Such collaboration will save time and resources and produce measurable environmental results by streamlining work plan negotiations, ultimately strengthening oversight and management of the Performance Partnership Grant progress for New England state partners. Having this online platform has also proven extremely useful during the current global pandemic, making it possible to complete our negotiations on time while folks are working remotely – both at EPA and in our New England states.

Strengthening the federal-state-tribal relationships in priority setting and measuring environmental progress is vital to our nation’s success in protecting health and the environment. The only way to fully realize our environmental goals is for states, tribes, and EPA to continue working together in the spirit of a mutual partnership.

 

About the author: Doug Benevento is EPA’s Associate Deputy Administrator and he is the President’s nominee to be the Deputy Administrator for EPA. Prior to his nomination as Deputy Administrator, Mr. Benevento was the Regional Administrator for EPA’s Region 8 office in Denver, Colorado, which comprises much of the mountain west. Mr. Benevento previously served as the Director of Environmental Programs and subsequently, the Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. Read more.

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.

30 Years of Pollution Prevention Builds Stronger, More Sustainable Businesses

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Alexandra Dapolito Dunn, Assistant Administrator of U.S. EPA Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution PreventionBy Alexandra Dapolito Dunn
Assistant Administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention

Businesses are the backbone of the American economy and play a crucial role in protecting our environment for generations to come. This year marks EPA’s 50th anniversary and the 30th anniversary of the Pollution Prevention (P2) Act. During this time, we’ve worked with businesses to find ways to stop pollution before it is even created, the very heart of P2 and sustainability practices.

P2 focuses attention on reducing the amount of pollution through cost-effective changes in production, operation, and use of raw material, resulting in less waste, economic growth, and protection of public health. The combined effect of all this is a healthier environment and stronger, more sustainable businesses that are innovative and resilient.

For the past 30 years, we’ve partnered with states and tribes through our P2 grants to support U.S. businesses seeking information about P2 and source reduction opportunities. Our grantees have helped thousands of businesses identify, develop, and adopt P2 approaches which have significantly reduced the use and release of hazardous materials into the environment and saved businesses over $1.5 billion.

These savings can help businesses gain a competitive advantage by reducing operation and maintenance costs and increasing profits and community recognition of their environmental stewardship and, in so doing, can help the U.S. economy grow.

One great way to get a sense of how businesses are working to reduce pollution is to take a look at our Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) pollution prevention pages. The TRI Program collects information to track industry progress in reducing waste generation and moving toward safer waste management alternatives. Many facilities provide descriptions of measures they have taken to prevent pollution and reduce the amount of chemicals entering the environment. For example, in 2018, a total of 3,120 new source reduction activities were implemented by 1,270 facilities.

This week, during P2 Week, I’d like to encourage you to take actions that foster a prosperous and sustainable future. Citizens, communities, and companies have a wide range of options to reduce pollution at its source. Whether we reduce the use of pesticides applied to our gardens, become more energy efficient at work, or explore the TRI data available for our community, there are all kinds of good practices that can help us advance economic growth and increase sustainability at the same time.

Check out the resources provided below for information on P2 Week activities. Additionally, you can look through our new P2 timeline to learn about all the P2 progress we’ve made over the last 30 years!

 

About the author: Alexandra Dapolito Dunn is the Assistant Administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. Prior to that she served as the Regional Administrator for EPA Region 1, and her responsibilities included overseeing the states of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont and ten tribal nations. Read more.

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 Capitol Hill Anthrax Attacks – Fall 2001

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Ted Stanich, Associate Administrator of U.S. EPA Office of Homeland SecurityBy Ted Stanich
Associate Administrator, Office of Homeland Security

As we remember the events of September 11, and mark the 19th anniversary and Patriot Day last week, I am reminded of the mood in Washington, D.C. in October 2001— “first 9/11, and now this?” The fear was real and we heard so many rumors about potential new threats that when there was anthrax in the mail it wasn’t necessarily a shock.

For all of us in EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division (CID) we felt a responsibility to support whatever EPA was asked to do. It was an “all-hands on deck” moment. We were assisting the EPA Region 3 On Scene Coordinators (OSCs) with sampling in Capitol Hill buildings (Dirksen and Hart) when the FBI called requested our assistance to collect evidence.

The FBI told us they needed help to collect mail on Capitol Hill. This meant donning personal protective equipment (PPE). But we were prepared to deal with this kind of biological threat. We worked with our agency colleagues, obtained the proper PPE, and knew the science of the threat. Rumors were flying in the media about “weaponized anthrax spores,” but hard data was hard to come by. We received much needed data from the FBI, which helped inform our decisions and helped keep us safe.

Anthrax sampling.Our first job was to retrieve the mail in the Capitol Hill complex and search for additional letters contaminated with anthrax. After the mail was collected, we constructed a containment facility at a General Services Administration warehouse in Springfield, Virginia and a sampling operation was developed. We were under the gun to see if there was another anthrax-laced letter. We worked with Region 3 OSCs to build a safe and effective containment area for sampling the contaminated mail. All personnel were trained to sample the mail which had been placed in over 600 large trash bags of mail stored in over 280 55-gallon drums.

As we cycled agents in from all over the country, a sense of camaraderie developed across EPA programs that was amazing during those long days. Ultimately, after several days of sampling we found the second letter sent to Congress, the “Leahy letter.”

The incident highlighted the importance of professional relationships and trust in the emergency response community and the critical nature of accurate data. EPA stepped up during this emergency, worked as a team and supported the FBI’s criminal investigation while completing our mission of protecting human health and the environment.

 

About the author: Ted Stanich is the Associate Administrator of U.S. EPA Office of Homeland Security. Prior to that, he served as the Deputy Director of EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division in the Office of Criminal Enforcement, Forensics, and Training and was a special agent there for more than 27 years. Read more.

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.

Celebrating Ozone Layer Protection Milestones of the Clean Air Act

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Anne Austin, Principal Deputy Assistant Administrator for U.S. EPA Office of Air and RadiationBy Anne L. Austin
Principal Deputy Assistant Administrator for the Office of Air and Radiation

Ozone layer protection in the United States reaches an important milestone in 2020. For 30 years the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been helping to protect and heal the Earth’s stratospheric ozone layer by phasing out ozone-depleting substances (ODS). This year marks the start of the final phaseout stage for certain ODS: hydrochlorofluorocarbons, otherwise known as HCFCs. To date, we have reduced production and import of ODS by over 99.5 percent. And, by the end of this decade, we will complete this historic phaseout.

I am proud that our country’s actions under the Clean Air Act (CAA) and global action under the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer (Montreal Protocol) mean that the ozone layer is expected to recover to pre-1980 levels. With leadership from the Reagan Administration, the world agreed to the Montreal Protocol on September 16, 1987. This achievement was followed by the 1990 CAA Amendments that included provisions on Stratospheric Ozone Protection, which President George H. W. Bush signed into law. Over the past 30 years, the United States has made remarkable progress in phasing out production of ODS, reducing emissions of ODS, and transitioning to safer alternatives through the EPA’s Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) program. Now more than ever, we are supporting a smooth and seamless transition for consumers and industry.

Under President Trump’s leadership, EPA has revised the SNAP regulations to increase the acceptable charge limit for certain refrigerants to provide more flexibility for equipment designs by industry, expanded the list of acceptable alternatives, and supported adoption into industry standards. At the same time, we issued regulations to ensure the final phaseout of HCFCs while allowing for the continued use for servicing a broader range of existing equipment.

This phaseout is largely due to American companies’ innovative approaches to solving a global problem, which is a key tenet fostered under the Trump Administration. U.S. industry has led the way, at every stage, by developing next generation technologies even while the use of air-conditioning and refrigeration has steadily grown. The EPA has joined with companies to further reduce harmful emissions by establishing two partnership programs: the Responsible Appliance Disposal (RAD) program and the GreenChill Advanced Refrigeration Partnership. The RAD program works with stakeholders to dispose of old refrigerated appliances using the best environmental practices, and GreenChill works with the supermarket industry to reduce refrigerant emissions. Both voluntary programs help to reduce emissions and build strong partnerships in our communities. In the last several years, RAD and GreenChill have gained new partners contributing to the continued success of the programs– demonstrating that what is good for the environment is good for business.

But why is ozone layer protection so important? Stratospheric ozone is our defense against harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun. When ODS are emitted to the atmosphere, they destroy ozone molecules and thin the ozone layer, allowing more UV radiation to reach the Earth’s surface. Overexposure to UV radiation can cause a range of serious health effects, from skin cancer and cataracts to suppression of our immune systems. UV radiation can also damage sensitive crops, which reduces crop yields, and harm marine phytoplankton with potentially profound effects on the food chain.

In a recently released report, the EPA estimates that the full implementation of the Montreal Protocol will prevent approximately 443 million cases of skin cancer and 63 million cases of cataracts in the United States alone. We can also take simple steps to reduce health risks by being smart and safe in the sun. Together with the National Weather Service and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the EPA provides the UV Index, a daily UV forecast to help protect the public from overexposure to UV radiation. Anyone can download the free UV Index smartphone app in English or Spanish and quickly and easily access important information to help plan how to enjoy the outdoors safely.

You may not have known that ozone layer protection is part of our everyday life. I invite you to learn more by viewing the resources we developed for this milestone year. Visit our website for highlights on the many achievements made possible by ozone protection policies and explore Strat City, an interactive webpage where you can see how ozone layer protection affects the many aspects of our daily living.

 

About the author: Anne L. Austin is Principal Deputy Assistant Administrator for the Office of Air and Radiation. Read more.

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.

Homeland Security in 2020: How EPA Prepares for Modern Threats to Our Nation

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Paul Kudarauskas, Deputy Associate Administrator, EPA Office of Homeland SecurityBy Paul Kudarauskas
Deputy Associate Administrator, EPA Office of Homeland Security

Homeland security is part of our overall national security in the United States. Dating back before 9/11, homeland security officials from all departments and agencies worked to support national preparedness in various forms. Over time, the scope of potential threats to prepare for has expanded beyond large-scale terrorist attacks to also include cyber-attacks, pandemics and catastrophic natural disasters. The evolution of threats that pose the greatest risk to the security of the Nation required us to take a broader, more integrated approach to preparedness.

Over the years, we have strengthened the security and resilience of the United States using systematic preparation, which is an integrated, national-level, capabilities-based approach to preparedness. Within this national preparedness system, we’re using a series of integrated national planning frameworks that covers: prevention, protection, mitigation, response, and recovery.

ASPECT Team members process the day's data from overflights of BP Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Left to right, Paul Kudarauskas, John Cardarelli, Bob Kroutil, Tim Curry, and Team Leader, Mark Thomas. USEPA Photo by Eric Vance

ASPECT Team members process the day’s data from overflights of BP Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Left to right, Paul Kudarauskas, John Cardarelli, Bob Kroutil, Tim Curry, and Team Leader, Mark Thomas. USEPA Photo by Eric Vance

These frameworks are adaptable, with coordinating structures to align key roles and responsibilities to deliver the necessary capabilities. They are coordinated under a national, unified system that uses common terminology and approaches; builds upon basic plans that support an all-hazards approach to preparedness; and utilizes functional or incident annexes to describe any unique requirements for threats or scenarios as needed. Each one describes how actions taken in that specific framework are coordinated with relevant actions described in the other frameworks across the preparedness spectrum.

The term “Homeland Security” has changed over the years. At EPA, we are also focusing on new impacts to homeland and national security, such as “Insider Threats,” theft of intellectual property by foreign adversaries, and other counter-intelligence issues. We need to support our partners in the water sector — teaming up with them to reinforce their cybersecurity, to ensure clean water and continuously operating systems. Historically, we haven’t included these other focus areas in our homeland security program, however with the evolution of threats, we cannot afford to overlook them today. As we look at our homeland security program in 2020, we see a more agile and resilient program using a risk-based approach to prioritize preparedness under the five national planning frameworks.

 

About the author: Paul Kudarauskas is the Deputy Associate Administrator for Homeland Security in the Administrator’s Office. Paul has spent 23 years in the Federal Government supporting environmental management, emergency response and homeland security programs at the Department of Transportation and at EPA, in both field and senior leadership positions.

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.