Results in New England: EPA Region 1's Year in Review
- Taking Action on Climate Change
- Improving Air Quality
- Assuring the Safety of Chemicals
- Cleaning Up our Communities
- Protecting America's Waters
- Expanding the Conversation on Environmentalism and Working for Environmental Justice
- Building Strong State and Tribal Partnerships
Framework for Sustainable Results in New England
Last year we created a framework for how we plan to address former Administrator Jackson's seven priorities in New England. This framework has helped us tailor and customize our efforts to the unique challenges and opportunities posed by New England's social, economic and environmental landscape.
- Regional Administrator Curt Spalding
IntroductionThe Framework for Sustainable Results in New England shows how EPA programs and priorities intersect to work toward more sustainable solutions for our most pressing environmental and public health challenges. The framework weaves together EPA national programs; regional cross-cutting initiatives and EPA key principles illustrating the depth of our work. Embedded in this Framework are complex relationships, key partnerships and unique leveraging opportunities necessary to achieve Sustainable Results.
Climate Change and Air Quality
The Northeast is home to some of the most densely populated coastal communities in the U.S. and some of the oldest water infrastructure in the nation. Extreme precipitation events have increased by 67% in New England over the past 60 years. The region is saddled with some of the highest energy costs and suffers from areas of poor air quality and high incidences of asthma.
Improving Coastline Resiliency
We are evaluating communities' vulnerability to sea level rise and coastal flooding in the Casco Bay area and in the Piscataqua Region through the Climate Ready Estuaries Program. In 2011, the Casco Bay Estuary Partnership hosted two workshops on incorporating climate change into conservation planning. The Piscataqua Region Estuaries Partnership is sharing its lessons learned on the need to address culvert size in light of more extreme weather events.
EPA will assess any dam infrastructure vulnerability to climate change impacts such as flooding in the Narragansett Bay Estuary. With other federal agencies, we are delivering region-wide high resolution coastal mapping (LiDAR) (PDF) (7 pp, 2.8MB) which should provide a key tool for communities to plan for sea level rise and flooding.
Investing in Preparedness and Response to Extreme Weather events
Harsher and more frequent storms are calling for renewed focus on preparedness and response. EPA New England led joint training sessions and exercises with our state and international response partners including: Lake Champlain area spill response workshop with Region 2, Vermont, New York, and Canadian responders; a 40-hour fast water booming course with responders from New Hampshire and Maine; two tabletop hazardous materials incident exercises with state and local responders in Rhode Island and Connecticut; and a multi-agency hurricane exercise with all New England state emergency management and environmental response personnel.
EPA New England has been actively involved with the New England states, the water associations and the water sector to prepare and respond to water emergencies. One effort that EPA will continue to support is working with the New England states to identify the drinking water and wastewater assets and communities at risk of flooding. Plotting those assets on a GIS map along with information on the status of available generators provides an important tool for prioritizing planning and response work. These maps identify communities at risk and need of planning assistance. We hope to complete these GIS maps in at least 4 states by the end of the FY2012.
Response to Tropical Storm Irene in Vermont
In the wake of the August 21, 2011 Tropical Storm Irene, and at the request of the State of Vermont, EPA deployed staff to the Joint Field Office in Burlington. EPA provided technical assistance and conducted oil and hazardous materials response actions, and helped with collection of Household Hazardous Waste in severely flooded communities. Among other things, EPA response personnel provided 221 reconnaissance visits resulting in 32 removal actions -- mostly by removing sediments from private basements that contained fuel from compromised heating oil tanks. In Household Hazardous Waste collection, EPA worked with responders from partnering agencies and helped collect approximately 3000 containers (2800 gallons) from the Town of Springfield, and approximately 1000 containers (1400 gallons) from the Town of Rutland, VT.
EPA New England has a fully functional Water Team made up of more than 30 managers and staff who are ready to be deployed to support our state colleagues and the water sector in the aftermath of a water emergency. The EPA Water Team recently assisted the State Drinking Water Programs in Vermont and Connecticut to address the unprecedented challenges posed by Tropical Storm Irene.
Reducing Energy Use
New England has 191 communities participating in the Community Energy Challenge and improving their municipal buildings energy efficiency through the use of the ENERGY STAR programs. So far, the communities have reduced over 46,000 metric tons of carbon equivalents through this program. That is similar to taking over 8,000 cars off the road.
Asthma Outreach and Public Education
EPA New England staff participated in over 30 events celebrating Earth Day and World Asthma month, directly interacting with over 3,500 attendees. Working with the Asthma Regional Council, EPA helped identify and promote best practices in asthma prevention.
See more about EPA's Healthy Communities Grant Program.
Diesel Grants will reduce air pollutants
Massport Conoly Station Boston
EPA awarded the Massachusetts Port Authority a $500,000 grant to begin cleaning up the trucking distribution process at Conoly Station. Conoly Station is a loading location for truckers from around the Boston-metro area. Truckers pick up containers of goods from large ships, and then bring these goods to distribution centers around New England. This process is an important function in our economic operations as an aged fleet of trucks are considered heavy diesel polluters.
Massport will use this grant to replace 20 old, dirty trucks with 20 newer trucks that emit fewer air pollutants. This project will reduce thousands of tons of pollutants from the air and will greatly increase driver productivity. Some of the most significant anticipated reductions will result in approximately 90% improvement in Particulate Matter emissions, 76% improvement in Nitrogen Oxide emissions and 63% improvement in Hydrocarbons.
- EPA Provides $1.5 Million for Clean Diesel Upgrades in Massachusetts; Clean diesel projects reduce early deaths and asthma attacks, boost local economy
- Sustainable Ports
Chelsea Produce Distribution Center
The Chelsea Produce Distribution Center is one of the largest produce distribution centers in the country. With 400 to 500 trucks coming through its gates each day – unloading and loading produce – and dozens of stationary trailers running old refrigeration units 24-7 to store the produce, the center is a significant source of air pollution. The stationary trailers alone, which pre-date EPA emission controls, burn at least three-quarters of a gallon of diesel each hour.
EPA put $1.5 million in Recovery Act funding last year, and in the fall of 2011 gave another $280,000 grant to reduce diesel emissions at the distribution center.
The Recovery Act funded upgrades to the power supply for the center, repowering 70 trailers and installing power pedestals to make the refrigeration units run on electricity rather than diesel fuel. EPA's 2011 $280,000 grant will repower 11 produce trucks to operate refrigeration units with electric power rather than diesel.
Replacing the diesel with electricity will save about 430,000 gallons of fuel from being burned each year at the center – making the air workers and neighbors breathe cleaner while adding construction, manufacturing and management jobs to a community that has seen its fair share of layoffs and budget cuts in the last few years.
Partnering with Other Federal Agencies and New England's Tribes on Climate Change Planning
EPA New England co-leads The New England Federal Partners group, which is comprised of representatives from 16 federal agencies that have agreed to work together in New England on climate change mitigation, climate change adaptation; and coastal and marine spatial planning. A "Statement of Common Purpose" was signed by representatives of 16 agencies in May 2011.
The region conducted a multi-phase consultation with the New England Tribes on the National and regional Water Program Climate Change Strategy. Through the New England Federal Partners group, EPA engaged with New England Tribal leaders on Coastal and Marine Spatial Planning in order to bring the Tribal leaders onto the Regional Planning Body that will lead a northeast planning effort.
Cape Cod Interagency Transportation, Land Use, and Climate Change Pilot
In 2011, EPA participated in the Cape Cod Interagency Transportation, Land Use, and Climate Change Pilot Project. The project was completed and action plans for land-use and transportation were developed. The results will be integrated into town and regional planning and will serve as a model for others looking at climate change impacts and transportation infrastructure needs.
Lowell Regional Wastewater Utility, MA
Drinking water and wastewater systems account for about 3-4% of energy use in the U.S., adding over 45 million tons of greenhouse gases annually. Further, drinking water and wastewater plants are typically the largest energy consumers of municipal governments, accounting for 30-40 % of total energy consumed. The Lowell Regional Wastewater Utility has worked proactively for years to improve efficiency and reduce energy consumption. Since 1996 the facility has decreased energy use by over 35% through investments in high efficiency equipment and adopting an approach that makes energy efficiency a priority.
The Lowell Regional Wastewater Treatment Utility has been working closely with EPA for over a decade. They have participated in a number of pilot efforts to improve efficiency and functionality. In 1999 LRWWU was one of the first wastewater facilities in the country to participate in EPA's ISO14001 environmental management system. Under the principles of continuous improvement, LRWWU also participated in the MA DEP/EPA energy management pilot starting in 2008. The facility received ARRA funds for energy projects that followed from the work of the pilot program. With these funds they worked on capital improvements such as installing a Green Roof to collect stormwater, energy efficiency upgrades to the aeration system and a solar photovoltaic system.
Cleaning up and Making New England's Communities More Sustainable
Expenditures for sustainability measures such as energy efficiency and open space are hard to come by in New England's fiscally-strapped cities and towns. EPA continues to work with many communities throughout New England through its grants, technical assistance and outreach programs. This year, we have developed new ways to identify New England's neediest communities where EPA's investments can be leveraged with other key partners including federal agencies, businesses, foundations and Non-governmental Organizations (NGOs).
Revitalizing community assets
- New Bedford, MA - In conjunction with the City of New Bedford and Aerovox Corp., EPA initiated the demolition and removal of the Aerovox building, which was themain source of PCBs into New Bedford Harbor. It presented a daily threat of a major disaster to the local community in the event it caught fire like other old factories in New Bedford. EPA also issued a decision document that allows for the construction of a Confined Aquatic Disposal cell in the harbor and will expedite the cleanup and reduce the cost of cleaning up the harbor. At the nearby Parker Street Waste Site, EPA continued to work closely with the local Environmental Justice community to use color-coded typology charts to explain sampling data, health threats, and planned removal actions to impacted residents. EPA completed excavation and removal of contaminated soils from numerous residential properties and initiated work at the New Bedford Housing Authority's Westlawn property.
- Springfield, MA - Redevelopment work at Union Station in Springfield, Mass., will get a boost of $400,000 from the $3.5 million in brownfields grants EPA made available for Massachusetts communities in 2011. Another $500,000 in brownfields funding will go to the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission. The funding is part of more than $76 million in EPA brownfields investments across the country announced in May to encourage redevelopment of America's estimated 450,000 abandoned and contaminated waste sites. The $12.55 million in grant and revolving loan fund money awarded by EPA in 2011 to New England communities and organizations will provide substantial help around the region. The money for the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission is part of EPA's brownfields revolving loan funding. As of June 2011, EPA's brownfields assistance has leveraged more than $16.3 billion in cleanup and redevelopment funding, and helped create more than 70,000 jobs in cleanup, construction and redevelopment. These investments and jobs target local, underserved and economically disadvantaged neighborhoods – places where environmental cleanups and new jobs are most needed.
Partnering for Sustainable Communities
This year, EPA, HUD, and DOT have offered unprecedented support for smart growth and livability in New England's disadvantaged neighborhoods through the Partnership for Sustainable Communities. In fall 2010, our agencies announced over $700 million worth of grants to communities across the country to help them become more sustainable. Of this total, over $91 million in 29 grants was targeted at New England communities. Among other things, through our Brownfields program, we are helping Lowell and Chicopee, Mass; and Sanford, Maine, revitalize neighborhoods through area-wide planning. Through our Smart Growth Implementation Assistance Program, we are helping Rhode Island with their KeepSpace program, which is intended to leverage a variety of state resources to help communities build affordable housing, provide transportation choices, and clean up brownfields. And through our Greening America's Capitals program, we're helping Boston 'green' City Hall Plaza and Hartford 'green' Capitol Avenue. Of the 29 grants to New England communities in 2010, the federal partnering agencies are working together to help grantees through the implementation phase.
- Boston's Fairmount-Indigo Transit Corridor - EPA outreach, leadership, and facilitation fueled extensive opportunities for leveraging resources along Boston's 9-mile Fairmont-Indigo Transit Corridor – a regional pilot project for the HUD/DOT/EPA Partnership for Sustainable Communities (PSC). EPA's long-term support has, among other things, funded design assistance at a brownfields site near one refurbished transit station; developed a tool for prioritizing brownfields sites for revitalization; and provided funding to assess or cleanup more than 30 brownfields sites within ½ mile of the corridor. The pilot has brought leveraged investments to promote economic development, and community revitalization to Boston's neediest neighborhoods including: DOT's support for four new or refurbished stations; HUD's support for more than 2,000 new housing units, and a recent $20.5 million grant from HUD as part of its Choice Neighborhood Implementation Grant program. The pilot was showcased in a video that was broadcast for the PSC's two-year anniversary celebration – a version of which was posted on the White House blog.
Reaching Out to Municipalities and Tribes
- In 2011, EPA New England, in coordination with the Institute for Sustainable Communities, launched the New England Municipal Sustainability Directors Network (NEMSN) -- an effort to foster peer to peer communication between municipal sustainability practitioners across the region. NEMSN is enhancing regional collaboration by linking local efforts to broaden state and federal initiatives. The NEMSN plans to share best practices and collaborate on areas such as: Climate Change Adaptation; Green and Healthy Homes; Urban Forestry; Stormwater Management; and "Complete Streets."
- EPA New England's Regional Laboratory engaged several New England Tribes to identify areas where EPA could provide technical, field and laboratory support. This outreach resulted in a prioritized list of support requests including equipment loan programs and supplemental training of laboratory staff. EPA has completed most of the requested actions and has helped improve tribal environmental programs while supplementing limited monitoring resources using advanced technology to develop decision support tools.
- In 2011, EPA New England developed and piloted a unique GIS strategic internal tool named the Healthy Communities Decision Support Tool. The first edition of the tool has helped us identify communities that are most in need of EPA's assistance and is being utilized for strategic planning assistance to communities in 2012.
Stormwater is a significant contributing factor to two-thirds of New England's impaired water bodies. We can't clean up New England's water without reducing the impact of stormwater on our watersheds. EPA is working to reduce stormwater pollution around New England by employing a stormwater strategy to coordinate integrated permitting, enforcement, public outreach, technical assistance and research. For instance, we are applying new approaches to detect illicit discharges and human pollution at numerous high priority sites located in Environmental Justice areas.
- We are advancing cutting edge sampling and analysis techniques for bacteria and human indicators. Our regional lab has been applying a "Stormwater Toolbox" approach (PDF) (11 pp, 317K, about PDF) to detect illicit discharges that allows robust cost-effective sampling of priority urban and environmentally sensitive areas for the purpose of detecting and correcting illicit discharges.
- Our approach to enforcement that combines addressing municipal separate storm sewers (MS4s) and sanitary sewer overflows builds on our nation's commitment to improve municipal infrastructure.
- EPA assisted ME and CT with the first impervious cover TMDLs in the nation.
- More impervious cover TMDLs will be approved in FY2012 that will support measurable reduction targets in the next generation of MS4 permits (2016).
We are complimenting our regulatory authority under the Clean Water Act (CWA) with the CWA's Residual Designation Authority (RDA). RDA permits will extend the reach of permits for controlling stormwater discharges and help foster development of sustainable stormwater funding solutions, such as stormwater utilities, for building and improving stormwater infrastructure.
- In 2012, we expect to issue a final RDA permit for the upper Charles River, individual MS4 permits for Worcester and Boston, and small MS4 permits covering 180 municipalities in Massachusetts and 50 in New Hampshire. We have and will continue to support these permits with targeted assistance to municipalities on low impact development (LID), by-law development and green infrastructure (GI). For instance, EPA completed a series of four (4) workshops in Massachusetts and New Hampshire – a total of 415 registered attendees - to help support the issuance of draft small MS4 permits and promote the use of GI/LID, and we completed a sustainable stormwater funding assistance project for the three upper Charles River communities subject to the proposed RDA permit.
- We developed of a series of stormwater fact sheets for the general public to help increase awareness of both the problems and solutions, and we are developing a rain garden-based social marketing campaign to create a strong foundation of public awareness and action to support stormwater management in New England.
- We are investing in research to develop and optimize practical stormwater best management practices (BMP) for nitrogen removal (PDF) (2 pp, 38K, about PDF), and have a pilot BMP under construction in Durham, NH. We are collaborating with estuary programs and hope to select one or more sites in nitrogen-impacted estuaries, including the Long Island watershed, for conducting additional nutrient removal pilot projects using BMPs identified for enhanced nitrogen removal.
EPA Permit aids Mystic River Watershed Initiative
As the result of an EPA issued permit, ExxonMobil is operating a new advanced wastewater storage and treatment system at its Everett, MA petroleum terminal, capable of treating the dry weather flow of legacy groundwater contamination, as well as stormwater flows. This will result in continued urban river and environmental justice improvements. The effort supports our work to improve water quality in the Mystic River Watershed – a major initiative involving over 22 organizations including not-for-profit community groups, local, state, and federal governmental agencies.
Incorporating Sustainability into Our Work
Under former Administrator Jackson's leadership, we are exploring how we might build sustainability more formally into our way of doing business at EPA.
We have launched a regional Sustainability Steering Committee which supports a culture change, guides the education, communication and measurement of sustainability; and is supporting national and regional initiatives.
In March 2011, we organized an "All Hands on Sustainability" event which included a morning of learning and sharing for all Region 1 employees to see first-hand, some of the best examples of where sustainability is demonstrated in our work. Sustainability panels at the event included sessions on:
Working definition of Sustainability to guide our activities:
"How do we meet our program needs of today without compromising the social, economic and environmental needs of tomorrow?
- How to build a rain garden;
- understanding green remediation;
- learning about a new water discharge permit that will significantly increase protections for ecological health and recreational water uses to receiving waters; and,
- sustainable facilities management at EPA New England's facilities.
One example of Sustainability in practice was issuance of the Kendall Station NPDES permit -- an innovative settlement that addresses longstanding harm from the station's thermal discharge to, and cooling water intake from, the Charles River, a slow-flowing urban river in the heart of Cambridge and Boston. The final permit settlement resolves the Clean Water Act issues by converting waste heat into steam for heating and cooling, promoting sustainability, energy efficiency, and cleaner air, thereby converting 95% of the facility's waste heat into steam for heating and cooling nearby buildings in Boston and displaces dirtier steam generation sources.
Sustainability considerations moving forward:
- Considering new ways to incorporate sustainable benefits in our clean-up decisions while bringing green remediation further into the mainstream;
- Sharing new solutions such as rain gardens and other low impact development methods by promoting their adoption, not only by communities and businesses, but also by our own regulatory and compliance programs; See video
- Weighing costs and benefits of decisions more transparently and broadly by using new sustainability models and "systems thinking" approaches to help us project how management decisions would cascade throughout the environment, the economy and the quality of life of a given community;
- Developing indicators that communicate more effectively the concept of ecosystem services and show the connections between actions on the land and impacts in the water; and
- Holding ourselves to measures that enable us to know and report when we are making a positive difference.
These, and other ideas that incorporate sustainability into our work, will help set us on a path to long-term prosperity and a clean environment.
Building a Green Workforce and Green Economy
EPA's role in promoting a Green workforce is built on its relationships with other agencies, states partners, communities, grantees and non-profit organizations. In some cases EPA's activities generate new green jobs. In others, EPA supports training to make existing jobs safer for workers and better for the environment. Typical activities include providing technical expertise to augment traditional workforce training and certification programs, as well as coordinating with other agencies and organizations involved in workforce development, such as the U.S. Department of Labor, the U.S. Department of Commerce, state agencies, and non-governmental organizations.
For more than 40 years, the Agency has carried out its mission and established a proven track record that a healthy environment and economic growth are not mutually exclusive.
Testimony of former Administrator Lisa Jackson Before the U.S. House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Sept 21, 2011
The history of environmental protection has been a history of innovation. Innovation made everything we do cleaner, healthier, and more efficient – and lead to the creation of good jobs."
Former Administrator Jackson's address at the 2011 Good Jobs Green Jobs Conference 2/8/11
Brownfields Job Training Grants
EPA's most direct experience with green job creation is through its Brownfields Job Training Program. This program provides funding to governmental entities and non-profit organizations to recruit, train and place local unemployed and under-employed, predominantly low-income, and minority residents in stable jobs. The goal of the program is to provide individuals with the skills needed to acquire full-time, sustainable careers in the green economy and brownfields redevelopment work in communities.
Alan Arrajj (PDF) (2 pp, 323K, about PDF) a forty-year old former unemployed construction worker was hired by an environmental consulting firm after completing a 14-week Environmental Technology training sponsored by JFY Networks in Boston, MA and funded through EPA's Brownfields Job Training Program. He now works as Site SafetyOfficer/Hydro Geologist/Geologist I.
Creating a Greener Workforce - Providing Training and Certification for safer lead paint removal
EPA New England accredited 64 training providers to teach over 134 courses (Initial, Refresher, Dust-Sampling Technician). These New England trainers have conducted almost 2500 courses, training an estimated 75,000 people. Over 12,600 New England firms have been certified and we have provided extensive outreach and assistance effort in all New England states reaching over 125,000 people.
Encouraging careers in Water Sector through Water Boot Camps and outreach video
EPA partnered with the CT and MA Waterworks Associations to conduct Water Boot Camps for youth in New Haven, CT and Fitchburg, MA. Nineteen high school students participated in one-week courses to introduce them to drinking water treatment and distribution, and encourage them to pursue green jobs in the water profession. The course included both classroom training and hands-on activities at the local water treatment plant.
EPA Produced "Water You Waiting For?" a 12-minute video showcasing the water profession for high school and/or vocational technical school students focuses on four areas—the value of water, job responsibilities, career successes, and environmental contribution.
Helping Community Organizations train members in Green Careers
The grassroots community organization Nuestras Raíces (Our Roots), from Holyoke, MA is focused on the high (31 percent) unemployment rate among the primarily Puerto Rican neighborhoods that the organization serves. Through two EPA CARE grants, Nuestras Raíces created the Roots Up Green Jobs program, which targets young, high-risk dropouts committed to creating better lives for themselves by establishing green careers. Roots Up Green Jobs educates students ages 16-24 about the fundamentals of sustainable practices, energy conservation and energy efficiency and provides a holistic educational experience by requiring GED classes, on-the-job training, and basic career skills consultations. Sixteen (16) of the 22 graduates of the 2009-2010 Nuestras Raíces' Roots Up Green Jobs programs have secured employment in several local energy services and green building and manufacturing companies, such as Co-op Power, Alteris Renewables, Enlace de Familias, Home Energy Solutions, and Stiebel-Eltron, as well as Nuestras Raíces' own start up, Energía.
Scientific integrity is core to EPA's mission to protect public health and the environment. Through the Regional Science Council (RSC), EPA New England's regional laboratory in Chelmsford, MA and staff scientists, promote the advancement of scientifically sound decision-making, through collaboration and dialogue, the advancement of science capacity through sharing of information and effective communication. This year we have been closely collaborating on several projects with EPA's Office of Research and Development (ORD) on several key initiatives including the advancement of Green Chemistry and project developing a tool that will lead to practical, sustainable solutions to the critical problem of nutrient impairments in our region's waterways.
Working to mainstream Green Chemistry in New England
Green chemistry is the design of chemical products and processes that will reduce or eliminate exposure to highly toxic substances. We are working to ensure that the use of these products and processes will generate less hazardous byproducts and waste throughout a chemical products' life cycle, including its design, manufacture, and use. EPA has convened green chemistry leaders and has hosted several events with over 300 participants from state and federal government, education, business, academia, healthcare and non-profit organizations, to help launch the New England Green Chemistry Challenge. New England is in a unique position to foster green chemistry through the concentration of bio-technology and pharmaceutical companies, healthcare and educational institutions, along with the commitment and effort from state government and our strong interstate organizations, creates a ripe environment for green chemistry to take hold and thrive. Watch a related EPA Video on Green Chemistry.
Promoting Advanced Research
The Assabet River RARE study is a multi-agency research program lead by EPA Region 1 to characterize the extent of endocrine disrupting chemical (EDC) contamination and the ecological impact of EDCs in the effluent dominated river. Results of the study will be used to inform the wastewater permit development process as new permits are issued in future years. The second field season of this research project has been successfully completed. EPA staff collected samples of effluent from the 4 waste water treatment plants and river for analysis of EDCs, conducted 48-hour larval exposure tests and deployed fathead minnows in the river to assess impacts to reproductive organs. The study report (PDF) (33 pp, 3MB, about PDF) will be prepared for delivery by September 2012 to inform permit development for waste plants.
Baseline Wetlands Survey - The EPA NE Regional Laboratory coordinated a baseline wetlands survey with the six NE States to evaluate the ecological integrity of wetland conditions in the region. This follows completion of the comparable NE Lakes and Ponds (NELP) assessment in 2010; each study is a component of the EPA National Aquatic Resource Survey. Laboratory staff coordinated training of state scientists and applied new protocols to gather baseline condition information across a variety of wetland types throughout the region. The survey provides crucial data on the condition of the region's waters and strengthens baseline science in state water programs to guide policy development and decision-making.
Building new Mercury Modeling tools to help us understand waterfowl impacts - Region 1 and a team of mercury (Hg) researchers developed a GIS-based model (called MERGANSER) (PDF) (16 pp, 2.1MB, about PDF) that links atmospheric Hg deposition and lake and watershed characteristics to Hg levels in fish and common loons.
Collaborating with Office of Research and Development on Narragansett Sustainability Pilot
EPA Region 1 is collaborating with the EPA Office of Research and Development (ORD) in a pilot project to develop practical, sustainable solutions to the critical problem of nutrient impairments in our region's waterways. The core of the project is an innovative systems approach that will create a decision support tool integrating environmental, economic, and social issues at a watershed scale. The model will be user-friendly and available for application in early 2012.
We have worked hard to build and sustain a strong environmental justice (EJ) program that reflects the social, cultural, and racial diversity of the communities we serve. Last year, we successfully promoted diversity internally and we advocated effectively for the environmental, social, cultural, and economic vitality of our communities through a range of partnership projects.
EJ Showcase Community-Bridgeport, CT
EPA New England has been providing assistance and investing in underserved areas of Bridgeport, CT for over 10 years. More recently, using EJ Showcase Community Grants, we're making strategic investments in Bridgeport, Connecticut by teaching sustainability and providing green workforce training on programs such as Greenscaper (Low Impact Development) classes and Water Boot Camp (teaching local youths about the water treatment process and about careers in the water industry). See video about water Boot Camp in CT . In 2011, we supported two training sessions for community members to help them better understand key environmental and sustainability policies and programs. These sessions inspired action and commitment by the City of Bridgeport and the community including: investments of approximately $ 1 million dollars to improve or acquire land for parks; expanded public involvement protocols; relocating a community boating group to the East End; construction of an observation area at the James Brown/Waterview area; increased local enforcement of land-use and zoning laws (Mark IV relocation); increased idling tips; and help for a number of solid waste cleanups. We also supported a youth oriented sampling project; and continued a school recycling pilot.
Interagency Working Group on EJ Community Stakeholder Visits
EPA held two community stakeholder visits for regional and national representatives of Interagency Working Group (IWG) on Environmental Justice. Visits included a tour hosted by seven nonprofit groups and state and local officials based in Boston and over a half dozen public health, environmental and community-based organizations. IWG group members were guided by community leaders through community gardens, brownfields, and job training programs. IWG attendees agreed to take their experience and the issues raised back to the national IWG to discuss strategies for addressing common environmental justice problems facing disadvantaged communities.
Environmental Justice and Permitting-Plan EJ 2014
In an effort to incorporate enhanced public engagement protocols in permitting decisions, EPA is working to develop an enhanced public participation guidance for EPA-issued permits and create a public database of permitting tools from across the country. The workgroup will release the draft public participation guidance to be reviewed by the public in late 2011.
Environmental Justice Small Grants Program
EPA New England's Environmental Justice Small Grants Program (EJSG) awarded ten EJSG in 2011. The EJSG are being used by communities throughout the New England region to address environmental concerns that are unique to Region 1. FY11 projects have addressed a variety of issues, including: educating residents about recycling in Hartford, CT; performing basic home energy evaluations and home weatherization tasks in Providence, RI; conducting door-to-door energy efficiency campaign in Somerville, Mass.; helping resettled immigrant families understand their rights to quality housing that is free of lead, pests, mold, and harmful pesticides in Lewiston, ME; and partnering with communities in Worcester, MA to address toxics in soil.
Building Partnerships with our States
In 2011, the EJ Program Office has continued to coordinate and exchange information with the State EJ Partners through quarterly calls. The purpose of the calls are to learn, promote and build on work that is taking place in the New England States, to enhance communication between the region and State partners, and to plan for future collaboration. These calls have helped to build working relationships with the states on environmental justice issues. The EJ Program Office has also set up face to face meetings with all of the state points of contact in 2011. The purpose of the meetings is to learn more about what each state partner is doing to integrate EJ into their work and programs.
Community Outreach Outreach
Outreach with and to young people has and continues to be an important component of our environmental justice programming. The region has actively participated in workshops and conferences for disadvantaged and at risk youth at Brockton High School; Boston University's Upward Bound Program; Alternatives for Community and Environment's Roxbury Environmental Empowerment Project, and a coalition to work with Boston youth. Along with this work, we will continue to fund and support "Water Bootcamps" in partnership with schools, state and local officials, water associations and community-based organizations. The region is presently working with Roxbury Community College, a minority academic institution to bring environmental health and careers to its enrollees and area high school students.
In 2011, the EJ Program Office supported the Urban Environmental Program on a cooperative agreement between EPA and three EJ nonprofit groups: Connecticut Coalition for Environmental Justice; Rhode Island Legal Services; and Alternatives for Community and Environment. Two trainings have been organized by the community partners this year. At the end of the project period, a New England Environmental Justice Network will meet regularly to identify and work on environmental justice issues of concern in New England. The collaborative work on the EJ community groups through this cooperative agreement will develop capacity of local environmental justice groups in New England to address EJ-related concerns. The network created under the cooperative agreement will work to increase knowledge of and ability to respond to environmental justice threats common in New England and increased collaboration among EJ groups.
Enforcement Actions taken in Environmental Justice Areas to reduce air pollution
This year we made substantial progress in our integrated air toxics strategy, which combines targeted technical assistance and enforcement, in the industrial laundries sector. These facilities are predominantly in environmental justice areas. They emit VOCs and HAPs from washing/drying of solvent-laden towels. We reached EPA's first-ever settlement addressing Clean Air Act violations at such a facility in NH. This prompted discussions with Textile Rental Services Assn, representing over 200,000 industrial laundries nationwide to achieve important Clean Air reductions (VOC/HAP) from upstream users of industrial laundries with pollution prevention applications.
One EPA: EPA One Great Place to Work
Former Administrator Jackson is committed to supporting our work as One EPA and fostering a work environment that nurtures and advances the talents, drive and interests of all our colleagues. The One Great Place to Work Campaign is built around three principal areas: Supportive Work Environments, Professional Development, and Benefits and Amenities. This campaign is benefiting from our work as One EPA. We will be relying on the dedication and creativity of this agency as we continue to build this effort to make EPA an even greater place to work.
In its most recent rating (2010) of "The Best Places to Work in the Federal Government" EPA New England ranked 9th out of 224 federal agencies surveyed. This comprehensive and authoritative rating of employee satisfaction and commitment in the federal government is produced by the Partnership for Public Service.
Building regional Networks to support our Priorities and integrate Key Principles into our work
EPA New England is embracing the tenets of a "One EPA" approach as we seek to increase efficiencies, improve communication across our program areas, and find smarter, better ways to make New England's communities cleaner and healthier places to live and to work. We have developed cross-office multi-media networks of staff and managers to develop integrated strategies for each of our key principles and priority areas. Here are some examples of how we have been able to develop expansive and effective capabilities in priority areas that cut across all of EPA's programs and media.
Our regional Sustainability Steering Committee uses real examples that have already considered social, economic and environmental factors in our decisions so that we can embrace future opportunities to incorporate sustainability into our work.
EPA New England's Integrated Stormwater Team has used the expertise and skills of at least five regional program offices to create a holistic and strategic approach to improving stormwater management throughout New England.
The region's Communities Coordinating Committee aims to better serve community needs through integration and coordination of EPA's regional community-based programs and is developing a first-of-its-kind web-based tracking and reporting system to map and consolidate all of our regional community activities and investments.
The regional Global Climate Change Network serves as a catalyst in New England for the achievement of national and regional greenhouse gas reduction goals and successful adaptation to the impacts of climate change.
The Environmental Justice Council has been working for over seven years to ensure that we incorporate Environmental Justice into all of our decisions and work in EPA New England.
Through the Regional Science Council (RSC) EPA New England's scientists and engineers are working to promote the advancement of scientifically sound decision-making, through collaboration and dialogue and the advancement of science capacity through sharing of information and effective communication.
Year in Review 2011
Kendall Station NPDES Permit
One example of Sustainability in practice was issuance of the Kendall Station NPDES permit -- an innovative settlement that addresses longstanding harm from the station's thermal discharge to, and cooling water intake from, the Charles River, a slow-flowing urban river in the heart of Cambridge and Boston. More »
Investing in Preparedness and Response to Extreme Weather Events
Harsher and more frequent storms are calling for renewed focus on preparedness and response. EPA New England led joint training sessions and exercises with our state and international response partners including: Lake Champlain area spill response workshop with Region 2, Vermont, New York, and Canadian responders; a 40-hour fast water booming course with responders from New Hampshire and Maine; two tabletop hazardous materials incident exercises with state and local responders in Rhode Island and Connecticut; and a multi-agency hurricane exercise with all New England state emergency management and environmental response personnel. More »