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Region 1: EPA New England

Environmental Justice News - Fall 2012, Issue 16

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. 

News

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

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Justice announced that Sterling Suffolk Racecourse LLC will pay a civil penalty of $1.25 million to resolve violations of the Clean Water Act (CWA) 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 approximately $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 today.

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 (CAFO), which stables race horses from March through November, without a permit under the CWA.

In response to EPA's enforcement at this facility, Suffolk is completing construction of a wastewater collection system, is making improvements to its stormwater collection system and has applied for a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit. Suffolk will minimize the volume of and properly manage the wastewater it produces, which will now 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.

EPA inspections revealed that Suffolk Down's process wastewater discharged from the facility to Sales Creek during dry and wet weather. EPA inspectors observed stormwater contaminated with manure and turbid, brown runoff being discharged from the facility to Sales Creek. Sampling conducted at various outfalls discharging from the Suffolk Downs facility indicated elevated levels of pollutants, including ammonia, suspended solids and bacteria. Animal wastes contain excessive levels of nutrients and pathogens, which produce adverse environmental impacts including reduction of oxygen in the water, which affects aquatic life.

Suffolk will undertake 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 (MyRWA) to conduct monthly baseline and targeted water quality sampling throughout the Mystic River watershed and will work with the Saugus River Watershed Council (SRWC) to conduct 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 MyRWA and SRWC websites. 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 (ACEC).

Preventing animal waste from contaminating surface and ground waters of the United States is one of EPA's National Enforcement Initiatives for 2011-2013.The initiative focuses on large and medium sized CAFOs that are discharging pollution without or in violation of a permit.

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

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New Green Infrastructure Project in Chelsea

EPA and the city of Chelsea together are looking at ways to modify local planning and zoning rules to take into account both the environment and the poorly draining soil of urban areas. The new rules are meant to accommodate green infrastructure, an approach that focuses on maintaining healthy waters and other environmental benefits to create a sustainable community. For instance, green infrastructure uses plants and soil to manage rainwater where it falls rather than letting it become polluted runoff. In addition to managing stormwater, green infrastructure also works to minimize flood damage, air pollution and other environmental threats, through natural processes.

EPA has hired a contractor to identify ways to include green infrastructure in local and state laws. The contractor will recommend changes to the city's planning and zoning ordinances to encourage the use of green infrastructure. They will also develop a technical support document on the use of green infrastructure in urban areas with poorly drained soils. This document will then be shared with nearby municipalities that face similar regulatory and environmental challenges.

The contractor will work with the city of Chelsea to review the code ordinances, create outreach material for the public with cost information about green infrastructure, organize workshops for local officials and create a technical document outlining cost, operations, maintenance and techniques for using green infrastructure in poorly draining urban soils.

For more information about this project, contact Caitlyn Whittle (whittle.caitlyn@epa.gov) and Karen Simpson (simpson.karen@epa.gov).

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EJ and Permitting Federal Register Notice

EPA has recently published its intent to make sure individual communities are more involved in environmental permits that affect them. Plan EJ 2014 calls on EPA to integrate environmental justice into the agency's programs. The plan identified five cross-program focus areas, one of which is environmental justice in permitting.

The plan directs EPA to develop tools that will help overburdened communities participate more fully in the permitting process. When a community participates more in the permitting process, the environmental outcomes are often better.

EPA is focused this year on EPA-issued permits only. Many states have already taken steps to integrate EJ into their permitting process, including Connecticut and Pennsylvania. The work in these states was helpful to EPA as it began its own initiative to incorporate EJ into its permitting.

Two specific strategies are being used to get communities more involved in permitting. The current draft plan "strongly encourages" permit applicants, both for new and renewed permits, to work with nearby communities, particularly when the permitting action will have significant public health or environmental effects on a community that is already overburdened. The document recommends some of the best ways to reach out to communities, such as engaging community leaders and members early and often. It also highlights the possible advantages of this outreach, such as avoiding costly delays because community concerns were addressed early or before the permitting process.

To achieve a balance between national consistency and regional flexibility, EPA is developing guidelines for how EPA regions can encourage public participation in permitting and then asking regions to create their own specific plans within these guidelines. The regional plans will allow each region to decide how it will allocate resources for outreach in advance. Recognizing that enhanced public participation is not possible for every permit, EPA hopes to strengthen public involvement for permits that will impact communities that are overburdened.

These documents were published in the Federal Register for 60 days of public comment period, which ended Aug. 27. EPA will review the public comments and plans to release a final document in early 2013.

For more information about this document »

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School Siting Law Passes in Rhode Island

Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee has signed a law that will minimize the chances that a school is built on top of potentially hazardous materials. Gov. Chafee on June 6 signed into law the school siting legislation. Advocates in Rhode Island have been working on getting a school siting bill passed for at least three years. This new law is being touted as the strongest law in the nation in addressing the problem of the siting of schools on contaminated sites. 

The new law bans the construction of schools (including expanding an existing building and leasing of buildings for school purposes) on "any portion of a parcel of property for which, upon occupancy, there exists an ongoing potential for hazardous materials and/or petroleum to migrate as vapors or gases into the building from the subsurface of the parcel of property, including any potential failure of engineered remedies to address said vapors or gases." 

The law also bans the construction of schools on any portion of a parcel of property formerly used for industrial, manufacturing or landfill purposes that is contaminated by hazardous materials unless the sponsor of the school project prepares a report for public comment. This report must: outline the projected cost of acquiring and cleaning up and monitoring the site in accordance with state regulations; project the time required to clean up the site; and discuss the rationale for selecting a contaminated property for use as a school and explain any alternatives considered by the project sponsor.  This report must be put out for public comment, the project sponsor must respond to public comments, and the sponsor must consider the findings of the report when making a final selection of a site.

To get a copy of the new law (PDF) (4 pp, 20 K, about PDF | HTML Version) »

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Office Update

New England Environmental Justice Summit, June 9 in Worcester, Mass.

Registration at the New England EJ Forum Summit, June 9, 2012

Registration at the New England EJ Forum Summit, June 9, 2012

Through its work on school siting and other EJ issues, Rhode Island Legal Services (RILS) determined that more than anything else, those working on EJ in New England needed to meet on a regular basis. A two-year grant under EPA New England’s Healthy Community Program, RILS, Alternatives for Community and Environment (ACE), and Connecticut Coalition for Environmental Justice (CCEJ) organized the New England Environmental Justice Forum (“Forum”). The Forum is a regional network of EJ advocates sharing best practices and lessons learned. Two trainings were held in New England for civil legal aid providers and other interested attorneys and local EJ groups. The forum was developed by convening a Regional EJ Work Group to plan the Regional EJ Summit, from which the forum was launched.

The EJ Summit held on June 9 in Worcester at Clark University drew more than175 participants. The core partners organized transportation and lodging for participants that were attending from out of state. Travel scholarships were available for participants and lodging and transportation was covered for those who needed it. The day began with a welcome from EPA Regional Administrator Curt Spalding and Senior Advisor to Administrator Jackson, Lisa Garcia. Mr. Spalding spoke about EJ work in at EPA New England, including the success of virtually eliminating childhood lead poisoning in Boston, awarding $650,000 in small grants to EJ communities over the past five years, and our success in improving indoor air quality and increasing recycling rates with our EJ Showcase Pilot in Bridgeport, Conn.

Core organizers of the Summit, Norbert Kovacs, Cherri Neely, Staci Rubin and Steve Fischbach, welcome the Summit participants.

Core organizers of the Summit, Norbert Kovacs, Cherri Neely, Staci Rubin and Steve Fischbach, welcome the Summit participants.

The EJ Program co-facilitated a workshop on applying for EJ Grants, which presented an overview of how to find and apply for EJ grants. Other workshops included Connecting Urban and Rural EJ Communities as well as the EJ Law and Civil Rights Workshop and How Communities Define Environmental Health Risks based on CARE projects. During lunch, youth from several EJ organizations led an EJ tour of the Worcester area. While participants had lunch, government representatives were available for one-on-one discussions with community members. A community and government dialogue session after lunch included representatives from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development, Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation. Participants asked questions about creating green jobs and jobs for youth.

For more information about the EJ Forum, please contact Steve Fischbach and Staci Rubin at: neejf@gmail.com.

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EPA New England Hosts EJ Training with Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management

EPA EJ Program Office staff talks about resources for communities during the EJ training at RI DEM.

EPA EJ Program Office staff talks about resources for communities during the EJ training at RI DEM.

Team members from EPA’s New England EJ Office on July 26 held a training for Rhode Island state employees that focused on the importance of integrating environmental justice into their everyday work. Janet Coit, director of the RI Department of Environmental Management, thanked the voluntary participants for attending and reiterated the importance of environmental protection for all people, regardless of race and income level. The EJ team began the first presentation by discussing the history of EJ, the disproportionate exposure of environmental stressors that EJ communities face, and the program goals that EPA has in place to help alleviate these issues. By directly working with communities and integrating EJ into all EPA programs, the agency is able to help EJ communities, team members said.

The second presentation covered legal tools agencies can use to advance environmental justice. These include The Civil Rights Act, which prevents intentional discrimination by programs that receive federal assistance, and also the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act, which provides communities and local governments with information to help them deal with chemical emergencies. The next presentation moved into updates on the DEM’s Site Remediation Regulations. This covered the amendments that took place including policy statements, public involvement, and new requirements for reuse sites. Policy statements must now include environmental justice considerations, and the public involvement component must include fact sheets, community meetings, informational repositories, and public involvement plans. The new requirements for “sensitive reuse sites” include childcare facilities, public recreational facilities, and schools, as well as posting signs at sites that were previously contaminated.

EPA staff Stacey Greendlinger, Myra Schwartz, Deborah Brown and Jim Gaffey, talk about regional approaches to EJ in Rhode Island.

EPA staff Stacey Greendlinger, Myra Schwartz, Deborah Brown and Jim Gaffey, talk about regional approaches to EJ in Rhode Island.

The EJ team gave a presentation on resources for EJ communities. This included the EJ Small Grants Program, which provides up to $25,000 for communities working on solutions to local environmental and public health issues. Since 1995, $318,000 has been given to Rhode Island communities working to address EJ concerns. The most interactive part of the day was the EPA panel discussion addressing regional approaches to EJ. Participants joined panelists discussing community involvement strategies, EPA’s Urban Environmental Program, rain garden installation and training, and chemical safety and emergency preparedness.

The day ended with a presentation on the Connecticut EJ Law, which discussed CT DEEP Permitting Program Requirements.

The comprehensive training program left RI government officials better equipped to identify and advocate for environmental justice communities.

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EJ Highlights

National Environmental Justice Advisory Council Public Meeting, July 24-25 in Arlington, Virg.

A meeting of the National Environmental Justice Advisory Council was held July 24 to 25 in Arlington, Virg. Topics for discussion included: (1) an update on Plan EJ 2014, including a report on the EJ in Permitting Initiative, (3) an update from the U.S. Department of Justice Environment and Natural Resources Division; (4) a discussion on nail and beauty salon worker health exposures; (5) an update on hydraulic fracturing, and 6) an overview of the Coordinated Federal Action Plan to Reduce Racial and Ethnic Asthma Disparities.

EPA also provided overviews of research programs, the Tribal Program, EJSCREEN, and the Community-Focused Exposure and Risk Screening Tool (C-FERST). EJSCREEN is an environmental justice screening tool to help identify communities living with the greatest potential for negative environmental and health effects. The Community-Focused Exposure and Risk Screening Tool, known as C-FERST, is being developed as a one-stop-shop community mapping and assessment tool.

The following National Environmental Justice Advisory Council workgroups provided updates:

  • NEJAC EJ Permitting Workgroup
  • NEJAC Research Workgroup
  • NEJAC Indigenous Peoples Work group

Public comment was held July 24. Comments were received on a variety of topics including Title VI, climate change/adaptation, and Toxic Substance Control Act reform. A detailed summary will be available here.

For more information on the National Environmental Justice Advisory Council and minutes from the public meeting »

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Alternatives for Community and Environment (ACE) Hosts Youth Summit, Aug. 3

ACE's Youth Summit on August 3 at English High School in Jamaica Plain, MA

ACE's Youth Summit on August 3 at English High School in Jamaica Plain, MA

Staff from EPA New England's EJ Program on Aug. 3 attended the Roxbury Environmental Empowerment Project's 16th annual youth summit entitled "Youth Revolt Roulette." The Roxbury Environmental Empowerment Project has been working to engage youth in Roxbury, Dorchester and Mattapan and families since 1995, leading a charge towards environmental justice in the Roxbury neighborhood. The group has been involved in various issues such as siting, food justice, transit equity, reuse of contaminated properties, and diesel emissions reduction. The youth summit provided students with the tools they need to make their communities safer and healthier.

Youth work during a food justice workshop at ACE's youth summit on August 3, 2012

Youth work during a food justice workshop at ACE's youth summit on August 3, 2012

Two youth leaders started the day by asking the audience about the meaning of youth, and talking about how youth power is constantly threatened and undermined. The hosts went on to describe the 16 workshops that were being offered, and how they would arm young people with the tools to combat various oppressions. EJ Program staff attended several workshops, including one entitled "Sexism". The importance of having "gender even" environmental activism echos the same goal that environmental justice accomplishes; making sure all people are represented and equally protected. This workshop was attended by 30 students, which were led by four impressive young adults, taking on different topics such as institutional, ideological, internalized, and interpersonal sexism. Four groups were created to tackle each of these topics for 10-minute intervals, where all attendees shared their experience with sexism. It appeared that all had been affected in their lives one way or another.

While attending the youth summit, it became apparent how eager these young adults were to help their community. The “Youth Revolt Roulette” will continue to empower youth through their programs and help fight environmental injustices in their communities.

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Boston Youth Environmental Network Holds Symposium

EPA staff works the information table at the Boston Youth Environmental Network event on July 17, 2012

EPA staff works the information table at the Boston Youth Environmental Network event on July 17, 2012

Hundreds of students listened to environmental professionals describe their careers and the steps they took to achieve their roles at an Environmental Youth Symposium hosted by the Boston Youth Environmental Network on July 17. The Boston Youth Environmental Network is a network of organizations that provide environmental education and employment opportunities for youth. The event was held at North High School in Worcester, Massachusetts, serving as a meeting place for the entire state area. Several EPA employees attended, as well as employees from the U.S. Forestry Services, the Fish and Wildlife Services, and the Student Conservation Association.

After students arrived, lunch was provided in the cafeteria where the different agencies and NGOs had set up booths for students to talk one-on-one with professionals, learning more about their career options in the future. Students from Groundwork Lawrence, Lowell Spindle City Corps and The Green Team, as well as interns from the National Parks Service attended. A staff member with the Alliance for Climate Education gave a lecture on the large impact that the American lifestyle has on the environment. This lecture also addressed actions that can be taken to mitigate climate change. Students then broke into smaller groups to meet with the different environmental professionals. Four EPA employees, including an EPA lab chemist, an attorney, and a water monitoring specialist, gave insight into how they began their careers and what their jobs entail. At the end of the day, the groups joined in the auditorium for a lecture entitled “Splash” that covered the availability of future jobs in the water industry. The Boston Youth Environmental Network’s well-organized event gave young people insight into careers in the environmental sector.

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HQ Activities

EPA’s 20th Anniversary Video Series

Watch EPA's newest video in our 20th Anniversary video series. The video series features government officials, nonprofit and industry leaders, and students who share stories about the lessons they have learned working on environmental justice.

This video features Susana Almanza, executive director of PODER-Texas. Susana Almanza tells an inspiring story about her efforts to protect her community from possible pollution from a gas tank farm. Watch the video, share it, and let us know your thoughts in the comments section! Also, be sure to add your e-mail to the subscribe link on the upper right side of the blog's home page to receive our weekly posts. Clicking the "Like" button is another way to let your friends know about this great resource.

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Grants and Announcements

The Office of Brownfields and Land Revitalization (OBLR) has posted the FY13 Assessment, Revolving Loan Fund and Cleanup grants Request for Proposals (RFP).

These grants may be used to address sites contaminated by petroleum and hazardous substances, pollutants, or contaminants (including hazardous substances co-mingled with petroleum). Opportunities for funding are as follows: Brownfields Assessment Grants (each funded up to $200,000 over three years; coalitions are funded up to $600,000 over three years), Brownfields Revolving Loan Fund (RLF) Grants (each funded up to $1,000,000 over five years) and Brownfields Cleanup Grants (each funded up to $200,000 over three years).

The proposal submission deadline is 11:59pm on November 19, 2012. The RFP can be found here.

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Upcoming Events

Region 1 EJ Program EJ Small Grants Webinar Training Sept. 26 and Oct. 3

The EJ Program Office at EPA New England is holding two EJ Small Grants Training Webinars on Sept. 26 and Oct. 3. The training will provide an overview of the EJ Small Grant application process and will allow time for question and answer. Participation is limited and will be provided on a first-come first-serve basis. Information about the trainings is below. Please RSVP to Heather Ross. For further questions, please contact Heather Ross (ross.heather@epa.gov or 617.918.1073).

September 26, 2012 at 2:00pm-3:30pm
Meeting Name:  EJSG Webinar Training
Conference Number:  866 299 3188
Participant Code: 6179181346

Join the meeting.
You must also call in using the conference number and participant code.

October 3, 2012 at 5:30pm-7:00pm
Meeting Name:  EJSG Webinar Training Evening
When:  10/03/2012 5:30 PM - 7:30 PM
Time Zone:  (GMT-05:00) Eastern Time (US and Canada)
Conference Number:  866 299 3188
Participant Code: 6179181346

Join the meeting.

Splash: A Conference Focused on Water, the Environment, and Related Careers on Tuesday, October 2, 2012 from 2-5PM
On Tuesday, October 2, 2012 from 2-5PM in Roxbury, MA, the EPA will co-host a career event for youth ages 14-24. Fifty percent of water professionals will be ready for retirement in the next 5-10 years opening up job opportunities. What are you doing after you graduate? Come to this career event to learn more about working in the water industry.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012 from 2-5PM
Reggie Lewis Track & Athletic Center
1350 Tremont Street, Roxbury, MA

Register.

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Webinars: National Overview of the Assessment, Revolving Loan Fund, and Clean Up (ARC) Request for Proposal (RFP)

In response to the listening sessions held earlier this year, the Office of Brownfield and Land Revitalization will host two outreach webinars aimed at providing a national overview of the Assessment, Revolving Loan Fund, and Clean Up (ARC) Request for Proposal (RFP). These webinars are geared to anyone that intends to apply for funding in FY13. Outreach webinars will be held on Tuesday, September 25 and Friday, September 28, 2012.

Additionally, OBLR in partnership with K-State will host a webinar on Thursday, September 27 that will address using TABez as a tool to assist with writing Assessment and Cleanup proposals.

Webinar Information

Name:         FY 13 National Outreach (No. 1)
Location:     https://epa.connectsolutions.com/fy13-arc-outreach/
Date:           Tuesday, September 25, 2012
Time:           11:00 am - 1:00 pm EST

Name:         FY 13 National Outreach (No. 2)
Location:     https://epa.connectsolutions.com/fy13-arc-outreach-2/
Date:           Friday, September 28, 2012
Time:          1:00 pm - 3:00 pm EST

Name:         TABez Webinar
Location:     https://epa.connectsolutions.com/tabez/
Date:           Thursday, September 27, 2012
Time:           11:00 am - 1:00 pm EST

Note: Registering for TABez prior to attending the webinar will greatly increase the learning experience.  Additionally, the FY12 Brooksville, FL assessment proposal will be used to demonstrate the TABez tool. This proposal can be found on the TABez website under Sample Grant Applications

Should you have any questions regarding this webinar series, please feel free to contact Jeanette Mendes (mendes.jeanette@epa.gov or (202) 566-1887).

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EPA New England EJ Contacts

Sharon Wells (wells.sharon@epa.gov)
Acting Director, Office of Civil Rights & Urban Affairs
617.918.1007

Amy Braz (braz.amy@epa.gov)
Environmental Justice Coordinator
617.918.1346

Heather Ross (ross.heather@epa.gov)
Environmental Justice Specialist
617.918.1073

Deborah Brown (brown.deborah@epa.gov)
Special Assistant and EJ Showcase Community Coordinator, Office of Civil Rights and Urban Affairs
617.918.1706

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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

Maine-Heather Parent
Office of the Commissioner
Maine Department of Environmental Protection
(207) 287-8662

Massachusetts-Steven Clarke
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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