My Independence Day Musing

By Dave Deegan

This week we celebrate one of my favorite holidays – Independence Day, the Fourth of July. Even now, decades after I left school for good and have been in the workforce, this early summer holiday continues to hold strong associations and memories of the thrill I once felt knowing that the whole summer was waiting ahead of me with fun activities like swimming, camping, baseball games, picnics, long days and lingering twilight.  Great, relaxing times with family and friends, and sometimes a welcome trip to the beach or a mountain lake.

Nowadays, celebrating our nation’s founding on Independence Day has far deeper meaning than the pleasure of a picnic or watching a jaw-dropping fireworks display. I always am grateful for the freedom we enjoy in the US: freedoms to read and write and debate, the liberty to live where and how we choose and the promise to define one’s own life work.

Picture of a flag on a bridge over water.

Of course, we all accept that our personal freedom has limits, either for other people’s good or for the community as a whole. When it comes to the environment, we all live both upstream as well as downstream.  My actions can impact you, just as yours can impact me.  As someone who cares a lot about EPA’s mission – to protect human health and the environment – I am always aware of the trade-off required when it comes down to EPA enforcing the laws to keep harmful pollution from the water, air or land.

What is ironic in all of this is that so much of what makes our collective independence so precious actually depends so much on our collective interdependence.  Our will and willingness to be good neighbors to each other often goes hand-in-hand with being good stewards of our environment.

So here’s to a great Fourth, to enjoying some potato salad, a burger, a small-town parade and a marching band playing the patriotic classics.  And maybe a few thoughts to how good it is to breathe clean air, to enjoy fresh healthy water and to dig a garden in good soil.

About the author: Dave Deegan works in the public affairs office of EPA New England in Boston. When he’s not digging rocks out of his garden, he loves being outdoors in one of New England’s many special places.

 

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.

Show Your Patriotism: Join the Beach Health Revolution This Independence Day

By Cameron Davis

Some of the most frequent questions I get are “do you swim at the beach?” or “are Great Lakes beaches clean?”

"Sage at Lee Street Beach"My inner beach enthusiast kicks in and I use the question as a chance to go into education mode. Sparing you the lecture here, my basic answer is: “Absolutely. Great Lakes beaches are some of the best in the world. Just pay attention to your local advisories.”

As we head into the Independence Day holiday and beyond, this summer we have even more reasons to hit the beach:

  • Check out/search for a Great Lakes volunteer beach health program to learn about why beaches close and how you can do your part to keep your community’s beach open, clean and fun.
  • The need for beach advisories and closures is decreasing. For example, the number of swimming bans and advisories in Chicago is at a five-year low.

Much of this work is the result of Great Lakes Restoration Initiative investments. Which means, they’re your programs.

And, if all of this isn’t enough to make you want to head to your neighborhood Great Lakes beach this 4th of July, think about this: though the water may still be warming up this time of year, unlike the east, west and south coasts, we don’t have salt to sting your eyes. Or stinging jellyfish. Or man-eating sharks.

Find out more about the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative at www.glri.us or by following me on Twitter @CameronDavisEPA.

About the author: Cameron Davis is Senior Advisor to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson. He provides counsel on Great Lakes matters, including the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

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.