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Region 1: EPA New England

Environmental Justice News - May 2012, Issue 15

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

EPA joins other groups to create rain garden and reduce stormwwater pollution

EPA staff and YouthBuild install rain garden at Rose Kennedy Greenway

EPA staff and YouthBuild install rain garden at Rose Kennedy Greenway

In honor of Earth Day, on April 20th, 2012, twenty EPA Region 1 staff members spent the day building a rain garden on the Rose Kennedy Greenway with the help of YouthBuild Boston and the Rose Kennedy Greenway Conservancy. Rain gardens are areas that capture rain water that does not get absorbed by surfaces such as parking lots and paved streets. Rain water run-off, or stormwater, carries pollutants into our water supply. A rain garden helps to minimize the amount of stormwater flowing into our water systems.

YouthBuild Boston is a nonprofit that helps young people from Boston develop job skills, build self-esteem, serve their communities, and explore careers related to the building trades. Staff and youth from YouthBuild Boston built raised beds along the Greenway, which is a park that runs above highway I-93 in downtown Boston. YouthBuild Boston led the event.

Rain Garden Installation at Rose Kennedy Greenway

Rain Garden Installation at Rose Kennedy Greenway

This event also highlighted the Soak up the Rain Campaign, which was launched by EPA New England in collaboration with state agencies, universities, watershed groups, and other organizations, as a call to action to citizens, businesses, and communities. It's a call to all of us who care about clean water, who want to reduce flooding, who want to create healthier and more beautiful communities. Learn more about this and about how you can reduce stormwater runoff in your community.

A video of the rain garden installation was created by EPA staff.

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In New Haven Conn., Southern Connecticut State University conference on public health and environmental justice

On Thursday, April 19, 2012, the Southern Connecticut State University's Department of Public Health held a conference on the challenges of addressing public health issues in environmental justice communities. Presentations during the conference included: the promotion of environmental justice through policy by Edith Pestana from Connecticut's Environmental Justice Program; community based approaches to promote public health in EJ communities with speakers from the City of New Haven and local nonprofit organizations; and how to consider environmental justice while promoting sustainable communities from the keynote speaker, Cynthia Jennings, Hartford Councilwoman. The conference targeted students from colleges throughout New Haven as its primary audience.

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Office Update

Bridgeport 100 Days Challenge

Bridgeport, Conn. EPA staff with members of the community

Bridgeport, Conn. EPA staff with members of the community

The Bridgeport Showcase Project held a summit with community members and local government on Saturday, Dec. 3 called the "100 Days of Success." The 100 Days of Success program marked the culmination of two land use planning workshops held in June, and celebrated the completion of tangible projects like construction of the fishing pier, improvements at James Brown Park, and an area of land that will be called

Knowlton Park. The event ended with remarks from Mayor Bill Finch, who praised the collaborative work between the City and EPA.

Bridgeport, Connecticut was chosen as one of 10 communities across the country to be designated as an environmental justice showcase community. In 2010, EPA awarded a $100,000 assistance agreement to the City to address its most pressing environmental justice concerns.

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Pioneer Valley PSD Permit Public Meeting and Informational Session, Jan. 12

EPA issued a final Clean Air Act permit to the Pioneer Valley Energy Center for the construction and operation of a new 431 MW/hr combined cycle gas turbine in Westfield, Massachusetts. The permit is designed to prevent the significant deterioration of air quality resulting from the plant's operation.

The federal Clean Air Act requires new major sources of air pollutants in areas which currently meet air quality standards to obtain a "Prevention of Significant Deterioration" (PSD) air permit prior to construction. There are three main components of a PSD permit:

  • The new source must install best available control technology to reduce all air pollutants which it will emit in significant amounts;
  • The new source must demonstrate, using air dispersion modeling, its emissions will not cause or contribute to a violation of any national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS), which are designed to protect public health and the environment; and
  • The facility may not cause the existing air quality in the area to deteriorate beyond specific levels that the Clean Air Act allows to protect air that is already cleaner than the NAAQS.

The permit for Pioneer Valley meets all three criteria. Pioneer Valley will install post combustion controls to minimize emissions of nitrogen oxides and carbon monoxide. In addition, the facility will use natural gas and ultra low sulfur diesel fuel to minimize emissions of fine particulate matter and sulfuric acid mist. Pioneer Valley is also minimizing greenhouse gas emissions through the application of energy efficient equipment.

EPA carefully reviewed Pioneer Valley's air dispersion modeling analysis and has determined the allowable air emissions from this project are in compliance with the Clean Air Act. The final permit for the Pioneer Valley plant contains several more stringent permit conditions that EPA added after considering public comments.

There was a formal public review and comment period on the draft Pioneer Valley PSD permit from Dec. 5, 2011 – Jan. 24, 2012. EPA also held an informational meeting and a public hearing in Westfield, Massachusetts on Jan. 12, 2012. EPA received 49 written comments and heard testimony from 28 commenters during the public hearing. EPA carefully considered all comments received on the draft air permit during the public comment period, and the final air permit is accompanied by a detailed "Response to Comments" document. EPA also carefully considered assertions that this power plant would cause a disproportionate burden on historically-disadvantaged Environmental Justice communities in the vicinity of the facility. EPA's analysis indicated that emissions would not adversely affect low-income or minority populations and that the impacts of those emissions did not disproportionately affect these communities.

More information: The final Pioneer Valley PSD permit and other documents

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EJ Highlights

Lisa Garcia, Senior Advisor to former Administrator Jackson, Visits EPA New England

Curt Spalding and Lisa Garcia at a meeting with community members in New Bedford, Mass.

Curt Spalding and Lisa Garcia at a meeting with community members in New Bedford, Mass.

Lisa Garcia, senior advisor to former EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson on Environmental Justice, visited EPA New England on March 6 and 7, 2012. Ms. Garcia met with community groups in New Bedford to discuss environmental justice concerns, and visited the Environmental Justice League of Rhode Island in Providence.

EPA Intern Caitlin Poor with the REEP Youth Pass Campaign Poster at ACE's Youth Summit July 2011

Lisa Garcia with the EJ Council

Ms. Garcia started her visit by attending a meeting with EPA England's Environmental Justice Council, the advisory council that guides and directs the integration of environmental justice throughout regional work. Council members learned about the status of Plan EJ 2014, the roadmap that will help EPA integrate environmental justice into the Agency's programs, policies and activities. Council members updated Ms. Garcia about their work to address EJ within their programs. Afterwards, Ms. Garcia attended a meeting in New Bedford, Massachusetts with community residents and EPA New England Regional Administrator Curt Spalding.

REEP Youth Summit, July 2011

Curt Spalding and Lisa Garcia meet with ECO Youth in Providence, RI

On her second day, Ms. Garcia met with the Sustainable Knowledge Corridor Consortium in Springfield, Massachusetts to learn about its work to build sustainable communities. Ms. Garcia's last stop was Providence, Rhode Island to meet with the Environmental Justice League of Rhode Island, where she met with the organization's ECO Youth group. The ECO Youth group is a year-round afterschool program that focuses on two main issues: food justice through its Healthy Corner Store Initiative and climate justice through its GreenD(RI)VE bus project. GreenD(RI)VE is the new mobile educational and transportation resource that helps youth learn about air quality, climate change and related issues.

Ms. Garcia plans to share the concerns raised during her visit with the Federal Interagency Working Group on Environmental Justice. The Interagency Working Group e is comprised of 17 federal agencies collaborating and sharing best practices on how to address environmental injustices throughout the country.

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HQ Activities

Conference Call with EJ Stakeholders Hosted by former Administrator Jackson and Chair Nancy Sutley

On February 27, 2012, Nancy Sutley, Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality, and former Administrator Lisa Jackson held an EJ Stakeholders conference call. During the call, both Chief Sutley and former Administrator Jackson thanked the Regions for continuing to raise awareness on environmental justice issues. They emphasized how important it is to address EJ issues in our communities and to protect public health and improve the quality of lives of our communities.

In October 2011, the heads of 17 federal agencies signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), which memorialized each agency's commitment to the creation of environmental justice strategies. Chair Sutley announced that these strategies are available to the public.

Highlights from the EJ Strategies include:

  • General Services Administration has outlined how to incorporate EJ decisions in buying and developing properties;
  • Health and Human Services is working on providing guidelines on creating health impact assessments before a development moves forward in EJ communities; and
  • Department of Transportation's Federal Transit Administration is developing an EJ circular and will issue policy guidance for their grant recipients.

Former Administrator Jackson is proud that this Administration has made EJ a focus and that the IWG has been revitalized after it lay dormant for 10 years. In addition to individual federal agency EJ strategies, she noted that the IWG is beginning to identify strategies for implementation that address issues and concerns raised by EJ communities throughout the country.

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Grants and Announcements

Environmental Education Grant Solicitation Notice

The 2012 Environmental Education Grant Solicitation Notice is expected to be issued by the end of May. Interested applicants can sign up for an email notification, at www.epa.gov/education, click on grants, when the notice is released. More information about the grants and other environmental education programs is also available at the website.

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EPA Students/Teachers Web Page has been updated

The EPA Students/Teachers web page has been updated. Visit www.epa.gov/students to find lesson plans, science fair projects, student blogs, community service activities and more on the website.

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EPA Intern Caitlin Poor with the REEP Youth Pass Campaign Poster at ACE's Youth Summit July 2011

EPA New England Regional Administrator Curt Spalding and staff from Regional Environmental Council at the EPA Merit Award Ceremony

Regional Environmental Council Receives Environmental Merit Award from EPA

EPA New England held its annual Environmental Merit Award ceremony on Wednesday, April 25, 2012 honoring individuals, organizations and businesses for their outstanding work in protecting human health and the environment. The Regional Environmental Council, which partners with EPA, was one of 14 organizations that received the Environmental Merit Award for outstanding achievements in addressing childhood lead poisoning in Worcester, Mass. Congratulations, Regional Environmental Council!

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Upcoming Events

New England Environmental Justice Forum Summit June 9 at Clark in Worcester

The New England EJ Forum will hold its Summit on June 9 from 9 am to 6 pm in Worcester, Massachusetts in the Higgins University Center at Clark University. The New England EJ Forum is a collaborative effort among three community groups in New England and the EPA. The New England EJ Summit will connect community activists and residents, EJ advocates, lawyers, and policymakers from New England who are interested in the environment and public health in low income communities and communities of color. Participants will learn about environmental justice topics in workshops led by community and other experts, and by meeting others who work on similar issues or share common concerns. There will be opportunities to discuss environmental justice concerns with representatives of state environmental agencies including the Environmental Protection Agency. The Summit will conclude with a discussion about whether to create a more formal environmental justice network in New England. Register for New England Environmental Justice Forum Summit. Deadline to register is May 18.

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National Environmental Justice Advisory Council Meeting July 24-25 in Virginia

The National Environmental Justice Advisory Council will meet on July 24-25 in Crystal City, Virginia. This council is a federal advisory committee to EPA that was established Sept. 30, 1993. It provides advice and recommendations to EPA about broad, cross-cutting issues related to environmental justice from stakeholders involved in the environmental justice dialogue. In addition, it provides a valuable forum for discussions about integrating environmental justice with other EPA priorities and initiatives. Members of the public can provide comments during the meetings. Registration is required in order to provide comments during the meeting. Register for the NEJAC Meeting.

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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
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-Donald Robisky
Vt. Department of Environmental Conservation
(802) 241-3734

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