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An Open Letter to Environmental Justice Stakeholders


I am Mathy Stanislaus, and President Obama recently appointed me to serve as the Assistant Administrator for EPA’s Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response (OSWER). I’m writing today to introduce myself and ask for your help, advice, and cooperation in the months ahead. As you know, OSWER has primary responsibility for leading or supporting federal action related to a host of issues crucially important to public health, environmental quality, and future economic growth in the United States. These issues include cleaning up contaminated land, responding to human health and environmental emergencies, and supporting the more efficient use of, recovery, reuse, and/or proper disposal of virtually all materials used in our economy. This is a daunting task, and I am keenly aware of the challenges that it poses to EPA, OSWER, and myself.

In light of the broad scope of my responsibilities, I am inviting you to lend your support as OSWER begins this new era under President Obama. I believe that government works best when it listens carefully to the opinions and criticisms of interested stakeholders, ensures ongoing public participation in government decisions, and learns from successful models. Your organization includes people with a broad range of insights and experience in many of the issues facing us, and I encourage you to use those assets in cooperation with OSWER as we work toward our shared goals. As a first step, I’m inviting you to send me any comments or suggestions you may have for restructuring OSWER programs to provide greater transparency in our decision making and more accessibility to information, especially for vulnerable communities.

How should EPA’s process for developing and issuing policy, rules, or guidance be opened so that we can gain from your experience and insights? How can we develop better strategies for handling waste or cleaning up contaminated sites? How should we enhance or redesign the public processes used at individual cleanup sites so that local communities are more fully informed and consulted?  

Furthermore, I intend to use the Internet to expand my interactions with the public. I can be reached by e-mail at aastanislaus@epa.gov. Feel free to use that address to send me your thoughts on OSWER issues. We will also be hosting video town hall meetings so that interested groups across the country can speak directly with me and OSWER experts. In the coming months we will be launching the OSWER discussion forum, an online  conversation where EPA officials and the public will be able to post and respond to comments on specific topics. Please participate, because your views will inform my management of OSWER at every step.

I personally intend to meet with as many of you as possible both here at EPA headquarters in Washington, DC, and as I visit EPA’s regional offices around the country.

Thank you in advance for any assistance you may give me in the future. I look forward to meeting you, listening to your views, and when the occasion requires, working cooperatively with your organization to improve the lives of all Americans.


Mathy Stanislaus, Assistant Administrator for EPA’s Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response

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