EPA Regulations and Court Victories Translate Directly into Wins for the American People

Over the past few years we have heard a pretty constant refrain about “EPA overreach” which is shorthand for saying EPA has gone beyond the authority given to it by Congress.   Even though as Administrator both Lisa Jackson and I pledged to follow two guiding principles – the rule of law and scientific integrity – it seemed with few exceptions that nearly every significant step EPA took to protect public health and the environment was met with criticisms of EPA overreach.   So I recently asked Avi Garbow, EPA’s General Counsel, to conduct an analysis of court decisions reviewing the actions taken by the Obama EPA under the Clean Air Act – which were the largest set of actions EPA took.  The purpose of this analysis was to determine whether in fact, the EPA followed these first principles of law and science.

Today I received the General Counsel’s memo summarizing the results of his analysis and in short, the record clearly shows that EPA followed the law and the science.  Overall, EPA won or mostly won, 81% of these D.C. Circuit cases and lost or mostly lost only 10% of the cases, with the rest resulting in mixed decisions.   And during the last two years, 2015-2016, EPA won 90% of the cases.  While we are concerned about any losses in court, we recognize that our rulemakings necessarily involve making judgments about matters on which the law is not settled, and as a result, some court losses are inevitable.

That said, ours is an excellent record on its face. And several other considerations make it even more impressive. About one-quarter of the losses resulted in remands without vacatur, meaning that the rule stayed in effect while EPA took additional action – in most cases, no more than providing additional explanation — to remedy the deficiency.  Furthermore, it should be noted that the judges on the D.C. Circuit are almost evenly split between those appointed by Democratic Presidents and those appointed by Republican Presidents, but Republican-appointed judges upheld EPA’s actions as often as Democratic-appointed judges.

Now as thorough and straightforward as this analysis is, I am sure it won’t quiet those who have claimed EPA overreach.  But, to the many hardworking, selfless EPA career staff who accomplished so much these past eight years, I am hoping they will read the memo and be filled with pride in so many jobs well done.  EPA not only followed science and the law, we identified reasonable, common sense steps forward that not only make our world cleaner and safer, but to support the amazing economic turn around and job growth that has taken place during this Administration.

But most importantly, I hope this analysis provides added comfort to the vast majority of Americans who support the work of EPA and want to know that the actions we have taken to deliver cleaner air, water and land – as well as a more stable planet – will be sustained.   EPA under President Obama’s leadership has a remarkable success story to tell.   My hope is that our record will remind people that government can and does work for them, and it will inspire young people everywhere to consider careers in public service because it is indeed the most noble profession.

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.

This Week in EPA Science: Thanksgiving Edition

By Kacey Fitzpatrick

Research Recap Graphic Identifier: Thanksgiving EditionWith Thanksgiving comes a long list of to do items: last minute grocery store runs, finding the perfect pumpkin pie recipe, cleaning the house before guests arrive, and of course roasting that turkey.

Sometimes it’s easy to forget what this holiday is really about! That’s why for this special edition of Research Recap, we’ve asked our researchers what they’re thankful for in the field of environmental science.

Happy Thanksgiving!

 

  • “I’m thankful for having my dream job where I get to work on exciting research projects to help support our environmental protection mission.”
    Terra Haxton, Environmental Engineer

 

  • “I am grateful for having been given the opportunity to be part of the greatest environmental protection organization in the world. We are not perfect, we are not always appreciated, and we often do not even recognize our own achievements. But we are the front line of environmental protection.”
    Heriberto Cabezas, Senior Science Advisor, Sustainable Technology Division

 

  • “I’m thankful for having an interesting job.”
    Paul Lemieux Associate Division Director, National Homeland Security Research Center

 

  • “I am thankful for the resources and organizational support to pursue research and development of green infrastructure technologies in urban core areas of the United States, and have the opportunity to interact with citizens and generally demonstrate our work in communities.”
    Bill Shuster, Research Hydrologist

 

  • “I am thankful that when I turn on a faucet, reliably clean water comes out! It is easy to forget all the science and engineering happening behind the scenes.”
    Gayle Hagler, Environmental Engineer

 

  • “I am most thankful for living and working in a country that has dedicated scientists, citizens, and programs that wonder over the environment and are always striving protect it from past and future harm. “
    Felicia Barnett, Environmental Engineer

 

  • “I’m thankful for my EPA colleagues who are smart, hardworking and excited about their research to understand and improve the world around us.”
    Jana Compton, Forest Ecologist

 

  • “I am thankful for our chemical safety for sustainability research team that has accelerated the pace of chemical screening and the transformative advances in our high throughput and computational exposure science research.”
    Tina Bahadori, Exposure Scientist and National Program Director

 

  • “I’m thankful to be working with colleagues who are passionate about their research.”
    Paul Mayer, Ecologist

 

  • “I’m thankful for the opportunity to work in a multidisciplinary and multi-organizational research community where we strive to understand how human exposure to various types of stressors (both chemicals and non-chemicals) affects human health and well-being. And how we can translate what we learn to help others in their decisions.”
    Nicolle Tulve, Research Physical Scientist

 

  • “I am thankful for the grace, vibrancy and inherent resilience of the natural world. The natural systems of our environment have a great capacity to adjust, recover and retain so much beauty, and for this I am grateful.”
    Jordan West, Aquatic Ecologist

 

  • “I’m thankful that I get to work with some amazingly brilliant people who are deeply committed to improving the environment and dealing with some of the major issues we have on the horizon, e.g. climate change.”
    Betsy Smith, Associate National Program Director for Systems Analysis, Sustainable and Healthy Communities Research Program

 

  • “I’m thankful for being part of the EPA family that provides the scientific foundation for decisions that protect human health and the environment. I am also grateful to work with highly talented and dedicated individuals!”
    Valerie Zartarian, Senior Exposure Scientist

 

  • “I’m thankful for having a wonderful family, living in a nice city and working with all of the great people at EPA in Cincinnati. I’m thankful that so many thoughtful people at EPA are looking out for public health in the United States.”
    Jeff Szabo, Environmental Engineer

 

  • “Being able to say, without irony or sarcasm, that we are doing the people’s work.”
    Ted Angradi, Research Biologist

 

About the Author: Student contractor Kacey Fitzpatrick is thankful for her new job writing about EPA research for the Agency’s Office of Research and Development.

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.

Science & EPA: From Cutting Edge to Commonplace

Yesterday, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy gave a speech at the National Academy of Sciences to talk about the role that science plays in EPA’s work. She shared some of her thoughts on EPA Connect, the official blog of EPA’s leadership. We have reposted that blog below. 

By Gina McCarthy

Official photo of EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy: “When we follow the science—we all win.”

Today I had the honor of giving a speech at the National Academy of Sciences to talk about the role that science plays in the work we do at EPA.

Science has been the backbone of the most significant advancements EPA has made in the past four decades and continues to be the engine that drives American prosperity and innovation for the future.

Through science, we uncovered secondhand smoke’s deadly link to lung disease. We set air quality standards to protect our children, our elderly, and our infirmed. Through science we learned that toxic fumes from leaded gasoline harm our kids’ brain development.

With science as our North Star, EPA has steered America away from health risk, and toward a higher quality of life. That’s why it’s worrisome that our science is under assault by a very small—but very vocal—group of critics.

Those critics are playing a dangerous game by discrediting the sound science our families and our businesses depend on everyday—And that’s what doesn’t make sense. I bet when those same critics get sick, they run to doctors and hospitals that rely on science. I bet they check out air quality forecasts from EPA and the National Weather Service—to see if their kids should be playing outside. I bet they buy dishwashers with Energy Star labels, take FDA approved medicine, and eat USDA approved meats.

To those calling EPA untrustworthy and unpopular—I’d like to remind them that without EPA, they wouldn’t have safe drinking water or healthy air. And we have these things because we follow the science—like the law demands.

In addition to ensuring public health, businesses are able to keep their competitive edge on the global stage because science fosters innovation. From smoke-stack scrubbers to catalytic converters—America inspires and innovates the world’s leading pollution control technologies—accounting for more than one and a half million jobs and $44 billion dollars in exports in 2008 alone. That’s more than other big U.S. sectors like plastics and rubber products. I want to encourage us to continue putting our faith in American ingenuity and innovation. The great thing is—our environmental laws recognize the need to cultivate that innovation.

When we follow the science—we all win. We all move forward. We have to keep trusting the leading role of science in America’s continuing story of progress.

 

 

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.

Progress in Communities: It All Starts with Science

Reposted from EPA Connect, the Official Blog of EPA’s Leadership

By Lek Kadeli

This week is the 43rd Anniversary of the establishment of the Environmental Protection Agency, and we are marking the occasion by revisiting how our collective efforts on behalf of the American people help local communities become cleaner, healthier, and more sustainable. As the Assistant Administrator for the Agency’s Office of Research and Development, I can’t help but see a strong undercurrent of science and engineering in every success story.

Over the past four plus decades, EPA scientists and engineers, along with their partners from across the federal government, states, tribes, academia, and private business, have supplied the data, built the computer models and tools, and provided the studies that have helped communities take action to advance public health and protect local environments.

In every area of environmental and human health action, EPA researchers have helped local communities make progress. 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.