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EPA's Region 6 Office

Serving: Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, and 66 Tribal Nations

EPA's Region 6 News and Events

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Whitewright, Texas to Receive $200,000 from EPA to Revitalize Business District

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced the selection of the City of Whitewright, Texas to receive $200,000 to plan redevelopment and revitalization for the city’s business district. The city will partner with the Texoma Council of Governments to carry out the program as part of the Brownfields Area-wide Planning program.

“Sustainability and resiliency become increasingly important to cities as they grow and as they adapt to the impacts of climate change,” said EPA Regional Administrator Ron Curry. “The ability to leverage existing infrastructure is critical to improving access to affordable housing, more transportation options and lowering transportation cost while protecting the environment.”

The City and Texoma Council of Governments will work with the local community and stakeholders to develop an area-wide plan and implementation strategy for addressing numerous sites located within the city's industrial center.

Nationwide, 20 communities will receive EPA grants totaling $4 million in brownfield funding to assist with planning for cleanup and reuse of Brownfields sites.

EPA Proposing Plan to Address Regional Haze for the State of Arkansas

This proposal establishes interim goals for the Clean Air Act to improve visibility. The goals are to improve existing conditions and to prevent future problems related to man-made air pollution in certain national parks and wilderness areas.

The Clean Air Act requires that states have adequate provisions to meet “good neighbor” requirements. These requirements ensure fairness and prohibit in-state emissions from interfering with visibility and health-based air quality standards in downwind states. This proposed Federal Implementation Plan and the portion of the Arkansas regional haze State Implementation Plan that we approved on March 12, 2012, together would ensure that progress is made toward natural visibility conditions at these Class I areas.

The proposal was signed on March 6 and will take 7-10 days to be published in the Federal Register. All public comments must be received on or before May 16, 2015.

Protect Your Family from Lung Cancer Caused by Radon

One in 15 homes is affected by elevated radon levels, so this month the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is encouraging Americans around the country to test their homes for this naturally occurring radioactive gas.

“Radon is a dangerous health threat to our families and communities that can be easily avoided through simple testing,” said EPA Regional Administrator Ron Curry. “Take action this month and test your home.”

EPA recommends four easy steps to protect your home from radon during cold winter months: First, learn more about testing your home, including how to obtain an easy-to-use test kit. Secondly, learn more about your state’s radon program and local radon activities. Next, encourage others to learn more about radon and test their homes. Lastly, buy a radon-resistant home by looking for builders who use radon-resistant construction.

Radon is the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers. Each year about 21,000 Americans die from lung cancer caused by exposure to radon. Testing is the only way to know if a home has elevated levels of radon.

Affordable do-it-yourself radon test kits are also available online, at many home improvement and hardware stores, or you can hire a qualified radon professional. .

EPA Issues Albuquerque-Area Permit to Protect Rio Grande River

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued the Middle Rio Grande Watershed Based Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) permit that establishes requirements to reduce pollution carried by stormwater run-off and restore portions of the Middle Rio Grande River that are too polluted.

“As a New Mexican, I understand water is a vital resource in our state,” said Regional Administrator Ron Curry. “It is important that we take steps to improve water quality in the Rio Grande River and continue to replenish the groundwater that so many New Mexicans depend on for their drinking water.”

New Mexico is only one of four states where EPA is solely responsible for issuing permits under the federal Clean Water Act. New Mexico has approximately 135 wastewater and stormwater facilities that operate under individual permits issued by EPA. About 1300 dischargers operate under general permits issued by EPA.

EPA announces proposed action to reduce harmful emissions of sulfur dioxide and improve visibility in Texas and Oklahoma

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a proposed action to reduce harmful emissions of sulfur dioxide (SO2) to improve visibility at some of Texas' and Oklahoma's most treasured parks and wilderness areas. After a thorough review, EPA has proposed to partially approve and partially disapprove the state of Texas’ regional haze plan intended to meet federal Clean Air Act requirements for improving visibility and reducing haze in the nation’s national parks and wilderness areas. After being published in the Federal Register, the proposed plan will be open to a 60-day public comment period. EPA will also hold a public hearing in Austin on January 13, 2015, and one in Oklahoma City on January 15, 2015.

Oklahoma will also benefit from this action to control pollution from Texas facilities and will achieve visibility improvements faster than the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality (ODEQ) proposed in their rate of progress plan for visibility improvements for reducing regional haze impacts in the Wichita Mountains. There are no Oklahoma facilities affected by this action.

EPA approves GHG permitting program in Texas

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency approved the State of Texas program to issue greenhouse gas (GHG) permits for new and modified facilities. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) has worked closely with EPA and submitted a state implementation plan for GHG permits to replace the existing federal program. EPA announced both its approval of the state implementation plan (SIP) and the rescinding of the federal implementation plan (FIP) making the TCEQ the primary GHG permitting authority in Texas.

The TCEQ worked closely with EPA to write federal GHG permits over the past months through a work-share agreement. Today’s action eliminates the need for businesses to seek air permits from two separate regulatory agencies in Texas and moves the permitting program to TCEQ. EPA and TCEQ will continue to work closely with pending permit applicants during the transition period and ensure no unnecessary project delays result from this action. The authority for Texas to issue air permits for new or modified GHG pollution sources will become effective upon publication of the final SIP approval and the FIP withdrawal in the Federal Register. Publication in the Federal Register typically takes seven to 10 days following signature.

Since January 2, 2011, projects in Texas that increase GHG emissions substantially required an air permit from the EPA. In Texas alone, EPA has received 83 GHG permit applications from businesses since 2011. Texas is No. 1 in the country for receiving EPA-issued GHG permits – with over 50 permits being issued by EPA. Of the 189 GHG permits issued nationwide, EPA has completed 61 and the states have issued 128 permits.

San Antonio and EPA unite to restore San Antonio River Basin

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and thirteen other federal partners are teaming up with San Antonio to revitalize the San Antonio River Basin and improve the local community. This partnership will reconnect local communities, particularly those that are overburdened or economically distressed, with their waterways. Improving coordination among federal agencies and collaborating with community-led revitalization efforts will improve the river basin and promote economic, environmental and social benefits.

“We are looking forward to working with our federal partners to strengthen the San Antonio River Basin and the surrounding community. The Urban Waters collaboration will boost recreation, help the economy, create jobs and most importantly protect Americans’ health,” said EPA Regional Administrator Ron Curry.

Many urban waterways have been polluted for years by sewage, runoff from city streets and contamination from abandoned industrial facilities. Healthy and accessible urban waters can help grow local businesses and enhance economic, educational, recreational and social opportunities in nearby communities. By reconnecting communities to their local urban waters, EPA will help them actively participate in restoring urban waters while improving their neighborhoods.

EPA finalizes agreement for cleanup at Camp Minden

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency finalized an agreement with the Louisiana Department of Environmental (LDEQ), Louisiana Military Department, and the U.S. Army to dispose of 15 million pounds of abandoned explosives at Camp Minden, Louisiana

Under the final agreement, the Louisiana Military Department will control burn more than 15 million pounds of smokeless propellants in specifically designed burn trays with funding provided by the United States liability fund, on behalf of the Army. EPA and LDEQ will oversee the work and environmental safety.

The agreement will become effective on Nov. 4, 2014. EPA’s past costs incurred at the site will be subject to a comment period and will be published in the Federal Register on or about October 31, 2014. After a 30-day public comment period, EPA will finalize the agreement regarding recovery of past costs.

EPA has taken final action approving the New Mexico Regional Haze and Visibility Transport clean-air plan.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has taken final action approving the New Mexico Regional Haze and Visibility Transport clean-air plan. The State plan addresses emissions for the Public Service of New Mexico San Juan Generating Station in San Juan County. These actions are as required by the Clean Air Act under the Best Available Retrofit Technology requirement for nitrogen oxide and to ensure that emissions from sources in New Mexico do not interfere with programs in other states to protect visibility. Some of the same pollutants that form haze have also been linked to serious health problems and environmental damage, such as respiratory illness and decreased lung function. This action will also protect scenic views at 16 of our nation’s most treasured areas including the Grand Canyon, Mesa Verde and Arches National Parks and Bandelier National Monument.

EPA has worked closely with stakeholders, including Public Service of New Mexico and the New Mexico Environmental Department, to address regional haze and arrive at this State Alternative that meets federal requirements. With the State plan now final, we are withdrawing our federal implementation plan that is currently in place.

More information

Beyond the Classroom students recognized by EPA

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently awarded the regional 2013 President’s Environmental Youth Award to twenty-one students from St. Mary Episcopal School’s Beyond the Classroom group in north Edmond, Okla. and their sponsor Donna Mackiewicz for their, “Where Have All the Flowers and Birds Gone,” project.

“These students are truly making a difference and we thank them for their part in making the world more sustainable,” said EPA Regional Administrator Ron Curry. “It is amazing to see such young pioneers take action in improving the world around them.”

The students’ project focused on revitalizing three acres of barren property leveled by the local school district. The students started their project by counter-acting local Okla. red dust from blowing everywhere by planting seeds. They conducted fund raisers to buy then plant spearmint, kale, romaine, lettuce, spinach and a number of other seeds to bring life back to the barren property. They eventually started their own leaning garden enhancing their knowledge of natural resources and promoting environmental action. The students built bird boxes that offered nesting habitats for migratory birds.

The group consists of 75 youth, however, 21 of their most dedicated members were recognized for creating the nature preserve. The students are: Aidan Aliabadi, Adalyn Brown, Avery Brown, Braeden Asbury, Megan Channel, Reagan Creamer, Chloe Condeluci, Emilisa Dockter, Melissa Gathings, Marley Hall, Scarlett McCumpsey, Madison Mooney, Jacob Padgham, Meghan Reeves, Charlie Schultheis, Sawyer Schultheis, Caden Trammell, Olivia Waters, McKenzie Waters, Kyra Sawheny, Owen Mitchell and the group’s sponsor, Donna Mackiewicz.

The President's Environmental Youth Awards program is an annual contest sponsored by EPA to honor creative environmental projects developed and implemented by K-12 students. The winning project was chosen from entries submitted by students in Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Texas.

EPA Environmental Justice Workshop in Houston

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services (TEJAS), Texas Southern University (TSU), Environmental Justice Health Alliance, other distinguished environmental organizations and guests recently celebrated 20 years of Environmental Justice in Houston, Texas.

More than 250 people attended a conference designed to foster tangible solutions to address environmental, social and health impacts associated with environmental pollution in poor and minority areas. The event also provided a variety of networking opportunities with environmental justice leaders and organizations. The conference started with a tour around Houston’s petrochemical plants, oil refineries, animal feed facilities and waste processing complexes to see and understand inequities associated with the area.

The principles of environmental justice uphold the idea that all communities overburdened by pollution – particularly minority, low income and indigenous communities – deserve the same degree of protection from environmental and health hazards, equal access to the decision-making process and a healthy environment in which to live, learn and work.

EPA Finalizes 50th Greenhouse Gas Permit in Texas

Federal greenhouse gas permits issued for projects creating thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in economic development in Texas

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced the final approval of the 50th greenhouse gas permit in Texas. In Texas alone, EPA has received 83 greenhouse gas permit applications from businesses since 2011. Texas is No. 1 in the country for receiving EPA-issued greenhouse gas permits for projects totaling well over $24 billion and creating over 20,000 construction jobs in the state.

“A major milestone in the work EPA has done with businesses and the state of Texas to ensure our economy continues to thrive while promoting cleaner, more efficient energy production and use,” said EPA Regional Administrator Ron Curry. “We share our success with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality TCEQ and the joint permitting program our agencies started last year to process business’ applications for permits.”

Of the 189 greenhouse gas permits issued nationwide, EPA has issued 61 and the states have issued 128. EPA has finalized 50 greenhouse gas permits in Texas, proposed an additional four permits, and currently has 11 additional greenhouse gas permit applications under development in Texas.

Explo Systems, Incorporated Site, Camp Minden, Louisiana

On March 18, 2014, EPA issued a Unilateral Administrative Order to the United States Department of the Army under the authority of Section 7003 of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. The Order requires the Army to eliminate the imminent and substantial endangerment posed by the 15 million pounds of M6 propellant stored at the former Explo Systems, Inc. site at Camp Minden, Louisiana. On April 15, 2014, the Army requested an opportunity to confer with the EPA Assistant Administrator regarding the Army’s objections to EPA’s Order. The meeting with the EPA Assistant Administrator was held on May 19, 2014. EPA, in a written determination on July 16, has finalized the Order, which became effective on July 22. Pursuant to the Order, the Army must notify EPA in writing of its intent to comply by Monday, July 28.  Copies of EPA’s correspondence with the Army are publicly available.

The Army, in a letter to the EPA on Monday, July 28, did not agree to comply with the Agency’s Unilateral Administrative Order, effective on July 22, to address 15 million pounds of abandoned propellant stored at Camp Minden near Doyline, LA.  As outlined in this Order, EPA has determined that addressing the risk posed by the hazardous materials at this site is the Army’s responsibility. The Army’s noncompliance with the Order puts at risk the health and safety conditions at the site. EPA is considering all options necessary to protect public health and the environment.

EPA awards Oklahoma $1.3 million to reduce water contamination risk in underground tanks

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has awarded the Oklahoma Corporation Commission $1,302,000, to prevent and respond to petroleum and other products stored in underground storage tanks. The commission received $837,000 to respond to underground storage leaks and $465,000 to prevent and enforce federally-regulated underground storage systems.

Leaks from underground storage tanks allow toxic fumes and vapors to escape and collect in areas such as parking garages or basements where they can cause explosions or respiratory illness. Toxic contaminants can also leak into groundwater sources that people depend on for drinking water. Regularly monitoring tanks and pipes minimizes contamination risks.

EPA regularly works with state, local and tribal governments to ensure that underground storage tanks systems are installed, operated, maintained and closed safely. underground storage tanks compliance prevents harm to others and the environment. EPA underground storage tanks grants help provide technical assistance, outreach, training, inspections and enforcement.

EPA awards over $900,000 to TU to research impacts of climate change in tribal areas

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the University of Tulsa are seeking new ways to protect tribal communities. EPA awarded $919,988 to the University of Tulsa to study methods to improve indoor air quality and reduce asthma triggers in schools.

“EPA is pleased to be working with University of Tulsa to help find new and innovative ways to improve air quality on tribal communities,” said Regional Administrator Ron Curry. “This effort gives us an opportunity to improve indoor air quality by increasing awareness of environmental health risks.”

Air quality information from the Cherokee Nation of northeast Oklahoma, the Nez Perce Tribe Reservation and surrounding area of west central Idaho, and the Navajo Nation in the Shiprock, New Mexico region will be used to study the health impacts of climate change and indoor air pollution on tribal communities. Tribal nations rely on many natural resources to maintain traditional diets, customs, and languages. The research will identify the impacts of pollution and climate change, and influence decisions to reduce health risks.

EPA awards over $11 million to State of Oklahoma to improve water quality

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has awarded over $11 million to the Oklahoma Water Resources Board. The grant is part of EPA’s Clean Water State Revolving Fund, a program that provides low-interest, flexible loans to communities to help them improve water quality and infrastructure.

“These revolving loan funds are some of the most effective tools we have for helping communities of all sizes achieve their clean-water goals,” said Regional Administrator Ron Curry. “The money will go toward a variety of projects to help ensure all Oklahomans receive the clean, reliable water they deserve.”

The Oklahoma Water Resources Board will distribute the $11.33 million as low-interest loans to a variety of recipients, including municipalities and rural water districts. These groups will use the loans for projects such as replacing sewer lines, improving wastewater treatment facilities, and upgrading collection systems.

EPA awards $517,500 to revitalize urban waters in New Orleans and New Mexico

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is taking action to help protect and-restore waters around Lake Pontchartrain in New Orleans and New Mexico’s Rio Grande. EPA awarded $517,500 to nine organizations to benefit urban waters and the surrounding land. The projects will improve water quality, support community revitalization and other local priorities.

“Restoration of Urban Waters will improve public health, provide additional recreational opportunities and boost the local economy,” said EPA Regional Administrator Ron Curry. “Work by grant awardees and partner state agencies makes certain the river continues to benefit our communities for many years to come.”

EPA is awarding $2.08 million to 36 organizations in 17 states and Puerto Rico, ranging from $40,000 to $60,000.  The projects are in areas that align with the 18 designated Urban Waters Federal Partnership locations. The Urban Waters Federal Partnership is a partnership of 14 federal agencies working to reconnect urban communities with their waterways by improving coordination among federal agencies and collaborating with community-led revitalization efforts.

Unified Command established to oversee the shipment of chemicals from Syria

Unified Command has been established to oversee the shipment of precursor chemicals associated with the Syrian Chemical Weapons Elimination Program. The Unified Command consists of federal, state and local agencies including the U.S. Coast Guard, Port Arthur Port Authority, Customs and Border Protection, Texas Department of Emergency Management, City of Port Arthur, Veolia, Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, Jefferson County Office of Emergency and EPA. Veolia Environment North America has been selected by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to treat and dispose of hazardous materials. The shipment does not contain chemical weapons. The shipment is standard commercial chemicals that were stored in bulk and never used.

As a participating agency within Unified Command, EPA is providing technical and scientific assistance to state and local agencies. Both Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and EPA have been tasked to conduct air monitoring along the transportation route. The real-time air monitoring information will provide transportation and response officials with information to support decision-making during the operation.

EPA awards over $144,000 to New Mexico to reduce water pollution

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently awarded $144,554 to the New Mexico Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department to operate and implement its Underground Injection Control (UIC) program. The UIC program helps protect underground sources of drinking water from contamination by regulating the construction and operation of injection wells.

The grant funds will also be used to review regulations, develop program plans, inventory injection well facilities, identify aquifers and conduct enforcement activities, surveillance and investigations. One of EPA’s missions is to protect public health, including safe sources of drinking water in coordination with state and tribal governments.

What you can do about Climate Change

Driving a car, using electricity to light and heat your home, and throwing away garbage all lead to greenhouse gas emissions. You can reduce emissions through simple actions like changing a light bulb, powering down electronics, using less water, and recycling. There are more than 25 easy steps you can take at Home, School, the Office, and On the Road to protect the climate, reduce air pollution, and save money. Take action today! Small steps add up, if we all do our part.

EPA approves Texas State Implementation Plan for Flexible Permits

EPA issued conditional approval of the Texas Flexible Permit program. This submittal is a result of EPA and Texas collaborating to identify what additional elements were needed for an updated rule to meet all Clean Air Act requirements. The final rule establishes an air permitting program where emissions caps for air pollutants can be utilized to help minimize emissions while protecting human health and the environment. The rules also are enforceable and compliance must be demonstrated. The action will be published in the Federal Register in 7 to 10 days. The final rule is effective 30 days after publication.

EPA and partners celebrate nation’s largest federally owned wind farm

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and partner organizations celebrated the dedication of the Pantex Renewable Energy Project near Amarillo, TX. The Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration led the development of the project, which includes the nation’s largest federally owned wind farm.

“The National Nuclear Security Administration and Pantex have shown outstanding leadership not only cleaning up this site, but also turning it into a source of clean, renewable energy,” said EPA Regional Administrator Ron Curry. “Their innovation will serve as an example of the natural connection between environmental sustainability and economic benefit.”

The wind farm will generate nearly 47 million kilowatt-hours of electricity per year. This will provide about 60 percent of the energy for the nearby Pantex Plant, the nation’s primary facility for the assembly, disassembly, and maintenance of nuclear weapons.

EPA recognizes federal facilities for achieving cost savings and environmental benefits

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has recognized federal facilities for their efforts to reduce the environmental impacts of facilities across the country. As part of the Federal Green Challenge, six federal facilities in Region 6 were recognized for leading by example by taking steps to reduce the federal government’s environmental impact in 2013.

In 2013, over 400 participating federal facilities, about 1.6 million federal employees, reduced their environmental footprint, which in many cases also resulted in significant cost savings. Federal offices participated by selecting a minimum of 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.

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