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Region 1: EPA New England

Environmental Justice News - April 2013, Issue 17

This newsletter provides links to non-EPA websites. These links provide additional information that may be useful or interesting and are being provided consistent with the intended purpose of this newsletter. However, EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of the information provided by linked sites. Providing links to a non-EPA website does not constitute an endorsement by EPA or any of its employees of the sponsors of this site or the information or products presented on the site. Click icon for EPA disclaimer. 


EPA awards five EJ Small Grants in New England

Five organizations in New England received EJ Small Grants in 2012. EJ Small Grants are awarded to community-based groups working to create healthy, sustainable communities through local projects. Projects considered for funding generally must include a work plan that outlines strategies for addressing local environmental issues, educating and empowering the community about the issues, building consensus, and setting community priorities. In addition, the proposed projects must show how the applicant will work with community-based organizations, environmental groups, business and industry, federal, tribal, state and local governments, schools, or a combination of these entities.

The winners of 2012 EJ Small Grants were:

  • The Regional Environmental Council in Worcester, Mass., to work on educating and mobilizing residents in Worcester neighborhoods to address environmental and health issues associated with poor indoor air quality;
  • The Way Home Inc. in Manchester, NH, to work on helping tenants and property owners understand healthier alternatives for pest control and reduce adverse health effects caused by mishandling of pesticides and pesticide residue;
  • JSI Research and Training in Lawrence, Mass., to work on building the capacity of Latino youth to take a leadership role in identifying and addressing toxic exposures in the home;
  • Partners for a Healthier Community in Springfield, Mass., to work with residents in several neighborhoods impacted by high levels of outdoor air pollution and other environmental hazards; and
  • Groundwork Lawrence in Lawrence, Mass., to educate low-income residents about the importance of safe soil and steps to reduce their exposure to contaminated soil.

For more information about the recipients and their projects »

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New England EJ Forum, Phase II

The New England EJ Forum has begun the second phase of its project, involving five conference calls and two face-to-face meetings in 2013. Alternatives for Community & Environment, Inc. in Boston is partnering with the Environmental Justice League of Rhode Island to continue working with the New England Environmental Justice Forum. The Forum hosted an Environmental Justice Summit in Worcester, Mass., on June 9, 2012 bringing together more than 175 people from across New England. The group identified the issue of toxic chemicals and cumulative exposures to risks in low income communities and communities of color as a priority.

During the second phase, the Forum will continue communicating regularly via conference calls and webinars and meet for two in-person gatherings in Massachusetts and Rhode Island to identify and work on environmental issues of concern across New England. The goal will be to develop the capacity of local environmental justice groups to address issues on a regional basis. For more information about the Forum or to get involved, please contact Staci Rubin (Staci@ace-ej.org or 617-442-3343, extension 236).

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Partnership for Sustainable Communities Social Equity Conference

The New England Partnership for Sustainable Communities held an all-grantee conference on January 10 and 11, 2013 at the University of Massachusetts Hotel and Conference Center in Amherst. The Partnership for Sustainable Communities is a partnership among three federal agencies: the EPA, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the U.S. Department of Transportation. The partnership was formed to help communities nationwide improve access to affordable housing, increase transportation options, and lower transportation costs while protecting the environment. The partnership works to coordinate federal housing, transportation, water, and other infrastructure investments to make neighborhoods more prosperous, allow people to live closer to jobs, save households’ time and money, and reduce pollution.

The event attracted 97 attendees including grantees that received Partnership for Sustainable Communities funding and government officials from municipal, state, and federal agencies throughout New England. The conference focused on defining social equity and the challenge of implementing sustainable communities’ principles. Conference sessions included topics such as: community engagement strategies; equitable access to transportation/housing and healthy food; place-based vs. conventional economic development; safe and resilient community design; and building relations with foundations and other funders.

EPA New England’s EJ Program staff helped to organize a session on Equitable Access to Transportation, Housing and Food. Communities across the country are integrating smart growth and environmental justice principles to achieve development that is healthy, sustainable, and equitable. During the session, three speakers discussed how we can achieve equitable development in communities that are still struggling with equal access to affordable and quality housing, reliable and affordable transportation, and healthy, livable neighborhoods. Participants had a chance to learn how to address these challenges. Partnership for Sustainable Communities grantees and experts spoke about strategies and tools they have designed to connect overburdened communities with opportunities.

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Office Update

The Office of Civil Rights and Urban Affairs welcomes new Equal Employment Opportunity Specialist

Jeff Norcross, who has worked for EPA New England’s Office of Environmental Stewardship for more than 10 years, joined the Office of Civil Rights and Urban Affairs in October as its new Equal Employment Opportunity Specialist. The Office of Civil Rights, which administers EPA New England’s Environmental Justice and Civil Rights programs, provides leadership, direction, and guidance in carrying out the Agency’s equal employment programs.

The Office of Civil Rights does this through promoting a work environment that is free of unlawful discrimination, sexual harassment and is accessible to individuals with disabilities. The office also ensures fair and equitable treatment for all employees, values workforce diversity, and fosters mutual respect in an effort to achieve the mission of the agency. Prior to his new position, Norcross worked as a paralegal and compliance inspector in EPA New England’s Office of Environmental Stewardship. As a paralegal, he supported numerous enforcement actions under the Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act, and Toxics Substances and Control Act.

Norcross also conducted many Toxics Substances and Control Act Lead Disclosure Rule inspections, primarily in Rhode Island and New Hampshire. His priorities in his new position include revitalizing the region’s Special Emphasis Programs, supporting the region’s diversity and inclusion goals, and ensuring compliance with all equal employment opportunity laws and regulations.

Norcross lives in Beverly, Mass., with his wife and daughter and is a performing musician.

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New Training for EJ Small Grants held October 10, 2012

The EJ Program office held a new grantee training for the five 2012 EJ Small Grant recipients. Project managers from Groundwork Lawrence, JSI Research and Training, The Way Home, Inc., Regional Environmental Council, and Partners for a Healthier Community attended the training to network and kick-off their EJ Small Grants projects.

EPA staff talked about how to successfully manage a grant. Past EJ Small Grants recipients talked about their successfully completed projects. The project period for 2012 EJ Small Grants projects is October 1, 2012 to September 30, 2013. For more information about the 2012 EJ Small Grants projects and the recipients »

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EJ Highlights

Clean Water Act Settlement Ensures that Boston Racetrack Addresses Wastewater and Stormwater Discharges

Sterling Suffolk Racecourse will pay a civil penalty of $1.25 million to resolve violations of the Clean Water Act at its Suffolk Downs racetrack facility in Revere and East Boston, Mass. The company is also spending more than $3 million to prevent polluted water from entering nearby waterways and will perform three environmental projects worth about $742,000 that will provide water quality monitoring and protection efforts for more than 123 square miles of watershed. The terms of the settlement are contained in a consent decree lodged in federal court in Boston.

The federal complaint alleges that Suffolk allowed polluted wastewater, including horse manure, urine and bedding material, to discharge into Sales Creek, a tributary of Belle Isle Inlet and Boston Harbor. In addition, the federal complaint alleges that Suffolk operated its concentrated animal feeding operation, which stables race horses from March through November, without a permit under the CWA.

In settlement of EPA’s enforcement action, Suffolk has agreed to complete the construction of a wastewater collection system, make improvements to its stormwater collection system, and apply for a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit. Suffolk will minimize the volume of and properly manage the wastewater it produces, which will be collected in a detention pond and discharged during non-peak hours to the sanitary sewer system. Suffolk will also implement green infrastructure and low impact development techniques to address stormwater discharges from the racetrack and maintenance areas of the facility. These techniques involve the use of natural or engineered systems to direct stormwater to areas where it can be stored, infiltrated, evapotranspirated, or reused.

Suffolk will perform three supplemental environmental projects under this settlement, including two water quality monitoring projects and one habitat protection project. Suffolk will work with the Mystic River Watershed Association to conduct monthly water quality sampling throughout the Mystic River watershed and will work with the Saugus River Watershed Council to perform a Saugus River watershed sampling program.

Both the Mystic River watershed and Saugus River watershed data will be available to the public for free on the Association’s website. Suffolk will also construct a habitat protection boardwalk in the Belle Isle Marsh, which is immediately downstream of the Suffolk Downs facility and represents one of the largest remaining areas of salt marsh in Boston Harbor. The Belle Isle Marsh encompasses 275 acres of salt marsh, salt meadow, and tidal flats, and is part of the Rumney Marsh Area of Critical Environmental Concern.

The consent decree is subject to a 30-day public comment period and approval by the federal court.

More information »

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HQ Activities

Bob Perciasepe is the Acting EPA Administrator as President Obama Nominates Gina McCarthy to become the Next EPA Administrator

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson left her post as head of EPA after serving under the first Obama administration and Bob Perciasepe is acting as interim EPA Administrator.

The EPA Administrator is responsible for enforcing all of the environmental statutes. The Administrator is nominated by the President of the United States and must be confirmed by Congress. Jackson began her career with EPA in 1987 and worked in EPA Region 2 in New York City for several years before becoming the Assistant Commissioner of Compliance and Enforcement with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. When Jackson was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on January 22, 2009, she became the first person of African descent to serve as EPA Administrator. During her tenure, Jackson made environmental justice one of the EPA’s top priorities. Under her leadership, the Agency initiated Plan EJ 2014, the strategy to ensure that all of EPA’s programs incorporate EJ principles into their daily work. Learn more about Plan EJ 2014.

Appointed by President Obama in 2009 as the EPA’s Deputy Administrator, Bob Perciasepe continues a career spanning nearly four decades as one of the nation’s leading environmental and public policy figures. An expert on environmental stewardship, advocacy, public policy, and national resource and organizational management, Perciasepe is widely respected within the environmental and U.S. business communities.

Gina McCarthy, Assistant Administrator of the EPA Office of Air and Radiation, has been nominated by President Obama to be the next EPA Administrator. Her nomination must be approved by Congress before she replaces Bob Perciasepe. Prior to her confirmation as Assistant Administrator, McCarthy served as the Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection. In her 25-year career, she has worked at both the state and local levels on critical environmental issues and helped coordinate policies on economic growth, energy, transportation and the environment.

McCarthy is a Boston native who received her undergraduate degree in social anthropology from the University of Massachusetts at Boston and her Master’s degree in environmental health engineering and planning and policy at Tufts University.

Learn more about Acting EPA Administrator Bob Perciasepe.

Read Administrator Jackson’s farewell blog.

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Grants and Announcements

National Award for Smart Growth Achievement Now Open

The application period for the 12th annual National Award for Smart Growth Achievement is now open. This competition is open to public- and private-sector entities that have successfully used smart growth principles to improve communities environmentally, socially, and economically. The application deadline is April 12, 2013. There is one application form for four categories:

  • Built Projects
  • Corridor and Neighborhood Revitalization
  • Plazas, Parks, and Public Places
  • Policies, Programs, and Plans

In addition, the review panel will choose an Overall Excellence winner from those that apply in these four categories.
Further information and the application form »

EPA's Smart Growth Listserv is maintained by the EPA’s Office of Sustainable Communities. To contact them, please e-mail smartgrowth@epa.gov. Learn more about smart growth.

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Upcoming Events

Brownfields Conference 2013 in Atlanta, Georgia, May 15 to 17, 2013

The National Brownfields Conference, the largest event in the nation focusing on environmental revitalization and economic redevelopment, will be held from May 15th to 17th in Atlanta, GA.

EPA defines a brownfield as a property that has a presence, or potential presence, of hazardous substances, pollutants, or contaminants, thus creating complications during its expansion, redevelopment, or reuse. EPA's Brownfields Program is designed to empower states, communities, and other stakeholders in economic redevelopment to work together in a timely manner to prevent, assess, safely clean up, and sustainably reuse these properties.

Every 18 months the National Brownfields Conference convenes, attracting over 6,000 stakeholders in brownfields redevelopment and cleanup to share knowledge about sustainable reuse and celebrate the program's success. Register for this conference or to find out more information.

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Community Involvement Training Conference in Boston, July 30 to August 1, 2013

The Community Involvement Training Conference is being held in Boston, Mass. from July 30th to August 1st. This conference will inform and train EPA as well as agency stakeholders and partners in best practices to enhance community involvement.

In 2011, the conference brought more than 450 community involvement practitioners together. This three-day conference features plenary sessions with guest speakers, topical discussions, multiple 90-minute information sessions, and dozens of engaging and interactive three-, four-, and seven-hour training sessions. The conference also will include field trips demonstrating effective community involvement and cooperative conservation efforts in the Boston area; a poster session; exhibits; a technology demonstration area showcasing new tools, technology, and software; and a variety of networking opportunities and evening activities. Find out more about this conference.

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EPA New England EJ Contacts

Sharon Wells (wells.sharon@epa.gov)
Acting Director, Office of Civil Rights & Urban Affairs

Amy Braz (braz.amy@epa.gov)
Environmental Justice Coordinator

Heather Ross (ross.heather@epa.gov)
Environmental Justice Specialist

Deborah Brown (brown.deborah@epa.gov)
Special Assistant and EJ Showcase Community Coordinator, Office of Civil Rights and Urban Affairs

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Web Resources

EPA New England

Environmental Justice Program Website

National Office of Environmental Justice

National Environmental Justice Advisory Council

National Office of Civil Rights

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State Contacts

Connecticut-Edith Pestana
Environmental Justice Administrator
Environmental Equity Program
Conn. Department of Environmental Protection
(860) 424-3044

Office of the Commissioner
Maine Department of Environmental Protection
(207) 287-7755

Massachusetts-David Cash
Assistant Secretary for Policy
Mass. Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs
(617) 626-1164

Massachusetts-Kerry Bowie
Director of Environmental Justice and Brownfields
Mass. Department of Environmental Protection
(617) 556-1007

New Hampshire-Sherry Godlewski
NH Department of Environmental Services
(603) 271-6801

Rhode Island-Terry Gray
Assistant Director/Air, Waste and Compliance
RI Department of Environmental Management
(401) 222-4700 ext. 2422

Vermont-Justin Johnson
Deputy Commissioner
Vt. Department of Environmental Conservation
(802) 241-3734

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