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Southeast Profile

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Description: Overview of the southeast region's environmental protection programs. For more information about this video, please contact Allison Wise (wise.allison@epa.gov), telephone number (404) 562-8346.
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Region 4 Profile

For more than 30 years, the United States Environmental Protection Agency has been working to protect human health and the environment.

Region 4 of the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency serves the citizens of the southeastern United States. The Region extends from the Mighty Mississippi to the Atlantic Ocean, and from the Florida Keys to northern Kentucky. The region includes Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee. It is also the home of six Native American nations.

What makes Region 4 unique? With more than 50 million people, Region 4 serves the largest and fastest growing population of any EPA Region. Between 1960 and 2000, the population of Region 4 almost doubled with an estimated increase of an additional 20% by the year 2025.

Region 4 is home to some of the most irreplaceable and outstanding natural resources in the world. The Great Smokey Mountains and the Okefenokee Swamp are known for their outstanding beauty extraordinary biological diversity.

The region has 1/3 of the remaining wetlands as well as 1/3 of the nation's coastline in the lower 48 states. Regional water resources include 14% of the nation's watersheds, and over 460,000 miles of rivers and 10,000 miles of estuaries. Region 4's coastal resources also provide habitat for 98% of the U.S.'s commercial marine species.

Coastal tourism brings in more than 16 billion dollars annually into local economies, as does other forms of aquatic recreation.

In addition to tourism, the backbone of the regional economy depends on the extraction of natural resources, animal agriculture, row crops, manufacturing activities, timber production, paper mills, mineral mining and ship building.

The Region's economic prosperity is also coupled with pressures from development. Five Southeastern States rank in the top 10 in the rate of conversion of undeveloped land. Several of the fastest developing areas in the U.S. are in the Southeast.

However, impacts of population growth, development and economic change have environmental consequences.

Portions of 90 of the Region's 587 counties, including areas in the Great Smokey Mountains National Park, have been designated as nonattainment for the 8-hour ozone standard. In addition, portions of 48 counties were designated as nonattainment for the PM 2.5 standard. These designations affect the health of more than 20 million people.

In fast-growing areas, vehicle emissions are overtaking industry as the most significant source of air pollution. Travel in the Southeast accounts for 21% of the nation's total vehicle miles traveled.

Air pollution impacts also result from stationary sources. In Region 4, there are over 9,400 active air emission sources, including the largest number of Title 5 sources nationally. Region 4 states contain approximately 30% of the existing coal-fired utility plants.

Management of the Region's water resources remains challenging. Having annual precipitation rates between 40 and 70 inches, the availability of good quality water has often been taken for granted. Competition for water resources has been rapidly increasing due to growth in population, water-dependent industries and commercial development, and agriculture. Excluding withdrawals for thermoelectric power production, it is estimated that water withdrawals across the region increased by more than 70% between 1960 and 1995.

Regional changes also pose waste management problems. Corporate failures, closures of plants under federal and state regulatory authority, facilities abandoned during bankruptcy proceedings.all of these are a continuing source of new sites for the Superfund program. Region 4 has more than 7,000 sites in the CERCLIS inventory and 213 sites listed as final on Superfund's National Priorities List. These are often complex, large-scale sites with multi-media environmental contamination and burning community issues.

The Region's Brownfields Program continues to be a high priority for redevelopment in the South and has been nationally recognized. The largest urban brownfield redevelopment in the U.S. is located in Atlanta, the Atlantic Station. This project won the 2004 Phoenix Overall Grand Prize.

Region 4 takes pride in its staff as they help people across the Southeastern states. The Region leads the nation in the number of emergency response calls. Incidents include spills from accidents to natural disasters such as hurricanes and floods. In responding, Region 4 personnel address threats to human heath and the environment.

The Region 4's Children's Heath Program partners with Emory University's Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Unit to address specific children's health problems, including asthma and increased blood lead levels.

Region 4 and its staff are committed to continuing to protect and manage the Southeastern United States' natural resources by focusing on air and water protection, providing safe drinking water, and the protection of land resources. This Region will achieve our goals!

For additional information on EPA activities in Region 4, please visit our website at www.epa.gov/region4.

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