2012 Spring Edition
- State of the Union – Blueprint for our Economy
- Earth Day – Honoring Achievement in New England
- 2011 Theiss International Riverprize: Charles River
- Federal Partnerships – Building a Sustainable Future
- Green Chemistry - Health & Safety by Design
- Mercury Air Toxics Standards – The First National Standard of its Kind
- Protecting Public Health by Reducing Diesel Idling
"Every year I'm reminded that at the heart of Earth Day there is a simple goal: Help every person see the connections between our lives and the health of our environment. We want mothers and fathers to know how important clean air is to their health and the health of their children. We want African Americans and Latinos to join the conversation about environmental challenges in their communities, so we can address disparities in asthma, cancer and other illnesses, and work for environmental justice. We want you – wherever you live – to start your own conversation about protecting health and the environment. I hope you'll lend your voice to these important issues, Earth Day and every day. "
Former Administrator Lisa Jackson
State of the Union – Blueprint for our Economy
In his State of the Union Address, President Obama laid out a blueprint for an economy that's built to last – an economy built on American manufacturing, American energy, skills for American workers, and a renewal of American values.
What's at stake is the very survival of the basic American promise that if you work hard, you can do well enough to raise a family, own a home, and put enough away for retirement.
- American Manufacturing: a plan with more good jobs and more products stamped "Made in the USA";
- American Energy: a new era for American energy—an economy fueled by homegrown and alternative energy sources;
- Skills for American Workers: new ideas for how we'll make sure our students and workers get the education and training they need;
- American Values: the President called for a return to American Values – of fairness for all, and responsibility from all.
Engaging the Public and Stakeholders
Over the past six months EPA officials have dedicated time to meeting with a variety of stakeholders from across the region in roundtable settings. When meeting with stakeholders and interested parties, Regional Administrator Curt Spalding and other Obama Administration officials focused on current issues, accomplishments and challenges related to the Administration's energy, environment and conservation policies and activities.
Engaging with stakeholders allows EPA to have robust discussions with community leaders across New England. The feedback we receive at roundtable discussions goes to Administration officials charged with improving government services in these areas.
"Listening is one of the most important things we can do as Administration officials. President Obama's commitment to transparent government and responsiveness to the needs of community and business leaders is what this effort is all about," said Curt Spalding.
If you are interested in hosting a Roundtable discussion please contact Shira Sternberg (firstname.lastname@example.org, 617-918-1068)
Spotlight on Venture Café Roundtable: On March 22nd Curt Spalding was joined by EPA Deputy Administrator Bob Perciasepe for a Roundtable Discussion at the Venture Café , a networking space located in the Cambridge Innovation Center. The Cambridge Innovation Center is in the heart of Cambridge, MA, a city often referred to as the brain-center of the start-up industry. The Café was launched recently to foster innovation and connections through conversation, networking and mingling. On March 22nd the Innovation Cafe held its first "themed" café, which focused on Clean Energy, Technology and Innovation. EPA's attendance at the café presented a unique opportunity for federal officials to have a dialogue with fast emerging start-ups in the clean-tech sector.
Gaining insights into the next generation of technologies and leaders in the fast-paced world of venture capital and start-ups can help EPA staff and leaders understand and nurture public-private partnerships that are necessary as we seek to solve some of our most vexing environmental and public health challenges.
The March 22nd Venture Café Roundtable attracted between 40-50 people who discussed a variety of topics including: updating government technology; using apps to make government-created data more accessible to the public; and how we can push the public in thinking more about environmental issues.
Earth Day – Honoring Achievement in New England
On April 22, 1970, Senator Gaylord Nelson from Wisconsin led and supported the American public in a movement for a cleaner environment. The first Earth Day was the day where Americans protested dirty air and water.
Earth Day 1970 marked the start of America's push for cleaner air, water and land. Now, forty-two years later, after the development of environmental governance with the creation of the EPA, it is safe to say that we have made good progress. The Clean Air and Clean Water Act ensure us that America is much cleaner than it was.
Environmental Merit Awards
At EPA, one of the ways we celebrate earth day is by celebrating extraordinary work of extraordinary leaders in New England at our Environmental Merit Award Ceremony.
The Environmental Merit Awards honors individuals and entities that help to define environmental stewardship in New England. These awards go out to people and entities that have achieved terrific environmental merit.
There are two categories of awards. The first is the Lifetime Achievement Awards, which are reserved for individuals who have demonstrated sustained commitment to environmental issues over an entire career or a lifetime.
The second category of awards goes out to individuals, businesses, governments, academic or not-for-profit organizations located in New England. These entities must have achieved measurable and lasting public health or environmental benefits that can be replicated or shared widely.
2011 Theiss International Riverprize: Charles River
The Theiss International Riverprize is one of the world's most prestigious environmental awards chosen by the International River Foundation, gives recognition and support to those who have developed and implemented outstanding, visionary and sustainable programs in river management. In 2011, the Charles River took this top award because of its excellence in river management.
The Charles River has made a remarkable recovery from the 1950s when sewage and paint were discharged into the river. EPA has played a leading role in this transformation. We established a "fishable and swimmable" goal for the river in 1995, and since then we have used our full bag of tools - including enforcement, permitting, monitoring, compliance assistance, and grant support - to restore the river.
The rebirth of the Charles would not have been possible without the engagement and participation of many partners, including the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps), the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), the Department of Fish & Game (DFG), the City of Boston, the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA), universities, and local boards and conservation commissions. Add the Charles River Watershed Association’s members and volunteers, engaged citizens, river users, businesses, land trusts, conservancies, and the Conservation Law Foundation (CLF), and the picture is nearly complete.
According to the annual “Report Card” for the Charles River issued by EPA, water quality in the river has progressed from a letter grade of D in 1995 to a B in 2012. CSOs and sanitary sewer overflows (SSOs) have been vastly reduced and millions of gallons of raw sewage that once poured into the river through municipal storm drains have been removed. The Charles Lower Basin, home to hundreds of thousands of residents and businesses, now meets water quality standards most of the time. New permits are being issued this year to control polluted stormwater runoff, the remaining serious source of pollution, more effectively. Stopping excessive bacterial and nutrient pollution at their source has played a major role in the re-birth of the Charles River into one of the cleanest urban rivers in the U.S.
The Charles River was chosen for the Theiss International Riverprize because of its innovative and visionary sustainable program for river management. The Charles River Watershed Association has developed their water program to include; urban design, sustainable infrastructure and eliminating barriers between water supply, wastewater and stormwater management. The other finalists for the 2011 Thiess International Riverprize were the Yarra River - Victoria , Australia (Highly Commended) and the Mattole River - California, USA.
- Clean and Clear (boston.com)
- Greg's List: Charles River (NECN)
- Charles River is Finalist for International Riverprize (CRWA)
- International RiverFoundation
Federal Partnerships – Building a Sustainable Future
Aiming for "New England's Greenest City" Bridgeport, Connecticut
Located on the coast between New York City and Boston, Bridgeport was once a bustling industrial and shipping center. Over the past 50 years, the city has been in decline; today, residents suffer from higher-than-average rates of asthma due to air pollution, and many residents lack easy access to fresh food, jobs, and public transportation.
The federal government has provided significant support to the city and community groups to help address environmental, housing, and transportation challenges. EPA has awarded grants and technical assistance, including brownfields assessment and cleanup grants, job training grants, and career training assistance. DOT has provided support for major transit upgrades, including Bridgeport's Intermodal Transportation Center. HUD oversees thousands of low-income housing units. However, each agency was providing grants, managing projects, and offering technical assistance in piecemeal fashion, meeting immediate needs in one area without looking at the city's needs as a whole. That approach changed in 2009 with the formation of the Partnership for Sustainable Communities.
Power of Partnership
By combining funding and technical expertise, HUD, DOT and EPA are working together to help Bridgeport achieve its goals for sustainability. In 2010, the Bridgeport-Steel Point Project received $11 million in Transportation Investment Generation Economic Recovery (TIGER) funding from DOT to build and upgrade roadways around Steel Point Peninsula. Once complete, this area will have pedestrian and bike-friendly streets that connect neighborhoods to public transit, help open the Steel Point waterfront to the public, and support commercial and residential development.
In 2009, Bridgeport received an EPA Environmental Justice Showcase Community Grant, which has resulted in many improvements in the distressed East End and East Side neighborhoods, including a new fishing pier and renewed water access for residents who for years had been unable to get to the waterfront. Bridgeport is also using part of a 2010 HUD Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant to the Regional Plan Association to study the feasibility of opening an additional rail station, the Barnum Station on a brownfield site in the East End of Bridgeport, where EPA has focused for over 10 years.
Green Chemistry - Health & Safety by Design
One of EPA New England's biggest initiatives to promote sustainability is our work on Green Chemistry. Green Chemistry is the design of safer chemicals and products. These are products that we can dispose of without wearing haz-mat suits; these are products that we can work with without worrying about potential health consequences or hazard.
Over the past year, EPA has done a lot to spur the growth of a Green Chemistry Industry in New England. We have funded a project with the Northeast Waste Management Officials' Association (NEWMOA) to develop a pilot on-line green chemistry clearinghouse and networking tool that will allow anyone involved or interested in Green Chemistry to connect through a user-friendly computer platform.
EPA has also supported "Healthcare Without Harm" to implement two model programs that will substitute toxic chemicals with safer alternatives in up to 190 medical research labs in Boston's Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, and replace standard petroleum-based plastics with bio-based plastics in Partners HealthCare hospitals. The Agency has also given a grant to "Beyond Benign" to develop a green chemistry curriculum for high schools in the area.
These grants are providing critical support to initiatives and practices that create or encourage green jobs.
EPA New England initiatives to promote Sustainable Materials Management (SMM)
Sustainable Materials Management (SMM) is a systemic approach to using and reusing materials more productively over their entire lifecycles. It represents a change in how our society thinks about the use of natural resources and environmental protection. SMM recognizes that every material has an environmental impact. There are major stages in a material's lifecycle including: raw material acquisition, materials manufacture, production, use/reuse/maintenance, and waste management. By examining how materials are used throughout their lifecycle, an SMM approach seeks to:
- Use materials in the most productive way with an emphasis on using less;
- Reduce toxic chemicals and environmental impacts throughout the material life cycle;
- Assure we have sufficient resources to meet today's needs and those of the future. EPA Region 1 is working on a number of SMM initiatives including the Food Recovery Challenge, a Zero Waste Community Pilot Program, and the Federal Green Challenge.
The Food Recovery Challenge is a program that challenges participants to reduce as much of their food waste as possible — saving money, helping communities, and protecting the environment. EPA New England is targeting colleges and universities, venues, supermarkets along with health care and hospitality sector to join the challenge. This year we have had 7 new partners join the food recovery challenge. There are currently 157 active in WasteWise and 14 new participants since January 2012.
Zero waste community pilot is working with Middletown, Connecticut to increase participation in and the rate of recycling in their downtown businesses. Middletown has joined as a WasteWise partner and will be measuring their progress. As part of this program Middletown is planning on conducting a few waste audits at several different businesses and plans to hold an Earthday event on April 28, 2012.
Federal Green Challenge encourages EPA and other federal agencies throughout the country to lead by example in reducing the Federal Government's environmental impact. Federal offices or facilities start their participation by selecting a minimum two of the six target areas — waste, electronics, purchasing, energy, water, or transportation. At least one of the selected target areas must be waste, electronics, or purchasing. Members commit to an improvement goal of at least 5% per year in their selected target areas. EPA New England has more than 20 federal facilities participating in this program.
Mercury Air Toxics Standards – The First National Standard of its Kind
On December 16, 2011, EPA issued the finalized Mercury and Air Toxics Standards, the first national standards to protect American families from power plant emissions of mercury and toxic air pollution like arsenic, acid gas, nickel, selenium, and cyanide. The standards will slash emissions of these dangerous pollutants by relying on widely available, proven pollution controls that are already in use at more than half of the nation’s coal-fired power plants.
Nationally, EPA estimates that the new safeguards will prevent as many as 11,000 premature deaths and 4,700 heart attacks a year. The standards will also help America’s children grow up healthier – preventing 130,000 cases of childhood asthma symptoms and about 6,300 fewer cases of acute bronchitis among children each year.
In New England, the EPA estimates that the rule will prevent between 120 and 300 premature deaths and provide between 1 and 2.5 billion dollars in reduced health care costs. Importantly, these first-ever national standards represent a huge victory for America’s children, who will be exposed to less power plant mercury, lowering the risk of damage to their developing nervous systems and their ability to think and learn.
The following table lists the projected health benefits from the rule.
|State||Estimated Premature Deaths Avoided||Estimated Economic Value of Health Benefits (in millions)|
|New England Total||120-304||1,030-2,550|
- Former Administrator Lisa P. Jackson, Remarks Finalizing of the Mercury and Air Toxics for Power Plants at Children's Medical Center in Washington, D.C.
- EPA Issues First National Standards for Mercury Pollution from Power Plants/Historic 'mercury and air toxics standards' meet 20-year old requirement to cut dangerous smokestack emissions
Protecting Public Health by Reducing Diesel Idling
As part of efforts to reduce excess diesel idling, EPA New England has reached settlements with two of the nation’s largest school bus transportation providers, First Student, Inc. and Durham School Services.
Idling diesel engines emit pollutants which can cause or aggravate a variety of health problems including asthma and other respiratory diseases, and the fine particles in diesel exhaust are a likely human carcinogen. Diesel exhaust not only contributes to area-wide air quality problems, but more direct exposure can cause light-headedness, nausea, sore throat, coughing, and other symptoms.
State idling regulations in Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island, which are enforceable by EPA, limit idling to between three and five minutes.
The settlement with Durham, announced in March 2012, requires Durham to reduce idling from its school bus fleet of 13,900 buses operating in 30 states. The company also will implement a national training and management program to prevent excessive idling. In addition, Durham will replace 30 older school buses (model years 1999 and 2000) with new buses that are equipped with state-of-the-art pollution controls. The settlement includes a penalty of $90,000.
The Durham case builds on a similar earlier settlement with First Student, which operates a fleet of 50,000 school buses in 40 states. First Student also agreed to implement a national training program and to outfit school buses with EPA verified pollution control equipment and GPS systems to help identify buses that idle excessively. As part of the settlement, First Student paid a $128,000 penalty.
In addition to cases against bus transportation providers, EPA New England has enforced diesel idling requirements against transit providers, including the MBTA and Paul Revere Transportation, and waste haulers such as Allied Waste and Waste Management.
The Region takes an integrated enforcement/assistance approach to reducing diesel engine idling. To reach as broad an audience as possible, the Region amplifies and complements its enforcement efforts with extensive outreach. We also educate in the course of responding to localized complaints about idling. Our message highlights both the environmental and economic benefits of reducing idling to owners of buses, trucks, locomotives and marine vessels. EPA's voluntary SmartWay Transport and Clean Ports USA programs provide incentives and information on technologies and strategies to reduce fuel use and emissions in the freight sector.
EPA projects that these efforts will reduce millions of pounds of air pollutants (including greenhouse gases) and save millions of dollars of fuel each year.