The EPA Blog The EPA Blog Thu, 14 Jan 2016 16:05:50 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Delaware’s Newest Artificial Reef Thu, 14 Jan 2016 14:25:20 +0000 by Steve Donohue

The Shearwater sinks to becomes a new artificial reef in the Delaware River

The Shearwater sinks to becomes a new artificial reef

I recently witnessed the sinking of the Mid-Atlantic’s newest artificial reef, the 180 foot long former military and fishing vessel Shearwater.  Artificial reefs create habitat for fish and recreation for fisherman and divers like me, as well as structure for the growth of encrusting organisms, including corals, mussels, and sponges, that provide fish with food. They also help replace natural hard bottom areas that has been lost over the years to sedimentation.

Commissioned in 1944 for World War II, the Shearwater had a long and productive post-war career as a fishing vessel plying the waters off the Delmarva Peninsula. Prior to her sinking, the ship’s age required that EPA verify the removal of possible contaminated materials.  In September, EPA completed a walk-through of the vessel to verify that it had been fully stripped based on best management practices and that floatable plastic debris, insulation and peeling paint was removed. The U.S. Coast Guard also inspected the Shearwater to confirm there was no oil on-board.

As the sun was coming up on December 11, 2015, representatives from Delaware, EPA, the local newspaper, and ship reefing specialists from Coleen Marine left the dock, bound for the offshore reef site, 26 nautical miles off the coast of Delaware.  By late morning we had rendezvoused with the Shearwater which was towed from Newport News by the tug Justin.  We pulled up alongside the Shearwater and the team from Coleen Marine scrambled aboard to begin final preparations by opening all through-hull fittings and burning and cutting additional holes in the vessel.

By early afternoon, the Shearwater was settling lower in the water and the team abandoned ship.  The sea poured in, washed over her deck, and caused her to list to her port side.  Around 2:00 pm she capsized, rolling onto her back, sinking stern first toward the bottom.

With a final nudge from the Justin at 4:00 pm, the team’s efforts paid off and the Shearwater exhaled her last breath, sinking to the sand 130 feet below.  A sonar survey showed that the top of Delaware’s newest artificial reef is over 100 feet below the surface and she is resting on her side.  I was pleased that there was no floatable debris or oily sheen coming from the Shearwater at any time during the day.

As the sun set, we left the reef site for home and the Justin sounded her horn in final salute.  It was a long day, but worth it to witness my first deployment of an artificial reef after many years diving on them.  While the Shearwater will never see the light of day again it will have many more productive years ahead of her in a new role as an artificial reef.


About the author: Steve Donohue has been an environmental scientist at EPA for over 25 years.  He runs the EPA Mid-Atlantic Scientific Dive Unit and works to address climate change and improve the efficiency and sustainability of government and private sector facilities.



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The Nexus of Food-Energy and Water: Critical Steps to Sustainability Tue, 12 Jan 2016 20:28:03 +0000 By Alan Hecht

three images vertically aligned showing food, energy, and waterEPA is one of several government sponsors for the upcoming Nexus conference (January 19-21) organized by the National Council on Science and the Environment (NCSE).  This timely event recognizes the intricate links between food, energy, land, and water management in today’s complex world:  water supply is influenced by demands from energy and food sectors; food production requires both water and energy; and energy requires water for a large fraction of its production and delivery.

Looking ahead we have several major challenges. Global population is expected to increase by 38%, from 6.9 billion in 2010 to 9.6 billion in 2050.  It is estimated that with a population of 8.3 billion people by 2030, we will need 50% more energy, 40% more water, and 35% more food (source, see: “Can ‘nexus thinking’ alleviate global water, food and energy pressures?” Tim Smedley, 2013, Guardian Magazine).

The Conference will focus on critical questions:

  • How do we feed the 9.6 billion people expected to be alive in 2050?
  • What are the opportunities to improve water and energy efficiency and reduce food waste?
  • What are the strategies for resilience in the face of increased climate variability and other environmental changes?
  • What science and technological are needed to meet these problems?

Government and business must now deal with the nexus of food-energy and water, as well as   economic development, health and wellbeing and environmental protection. This means integrated, systems thinking is needed.   For us here at EPA, partnership is key to the next phase of environmental protection– achieving sustainable outcomes. We are embracing research that strategically engages government-business collaboration as critical foundations for achieving sustainable outcomes.

Working with our partners, we have advanced a guiding definition of sustainability as a goal and a process for meeting the challenges of the 21st century. The goal is to protect our future generations; the process involves use of technology, tools and approaches to achieve sustainable outcomes.

One example is our partnership with the U.S. Army to support their Net Zero initiative,  while dramatically lowering—or eliminating—energy consumption, water use, and waste generation on military bases.

To support such efforts and help local communities, Agency researchers have already developed hundreds of decision support tools to assess the potential impacts of decisions and advance actions that can promote healthy and sustainable communities well into the future. For example, our recently released “Green Infrastructure Wizard” (GIWiz) provides an interactive web application connecting communities to a wealth of EPA Green Infrastructure tools and resources.

As is evident from the conference, in the world today we must recognize the nexus of land, water, energy and food and must aim for sustainable outcomes. The goal today at EPA is that “sustainability isn’t part of our work, it is a guiding influence for all of our work.”

About the Author: Alan Hecht is the Director for Sustainable Development in EPA’s Office of Research and Development.



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Oh, Give Me a Home Where the Buffalo Roam Mon, 11 Jan 2016 21:42:17 +0000 A gift from the NY Zoological Society helped restore buffalo herds to the Southern Plains.

A gift from the NY Zoological Society helped restore buffalo herds to the Southern Plains.

By Marcia Anderson

Thanks to a gift of 15 buffalo from the New York Zoological Society, predecessor to the Bronx Zoo, the Southern Plains of the United States has a substantial heard of buffalo roaming southern Oklahoma’s Wichita Mountains Wildlife Reserve, the nation’s oldest refuge.

The great southern prairies were home to numerous Indian tribes, who lived with the land, not just on it. This is where Native American teepees stood and wild buffalo roamed the Great Plains. The Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge got its start when Congress set aside much of southwestern Oklahoma in 1867 as a reservation for Kiowa, Comanche and Kiowa-Apache tribes. The reservation encompassed the Red River north to the Washita River, including all of the Wichita Mountains. At that time, Indian lands meant nothing to commercial hunters. They encroached into Indian Country, and killed thousands of animals at a time for their pelts.


Today, over 600 buffalo freely roam the 59,000 acre Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge.

At the turn of the century, Oklahoma businessmen were petitioning Congress to reserve the Wichita Mountains as a national park. Even then-Vice President Roosevelt was approached by his Rough Riders to create a national park. But when Congress adjourned in 1901, there was still no park. At that point President McKinley agreed to preserve the land, not as a park, but as a National Forest Preserve. The preserve status kept land seekers at bay, but did nothing to deter the hunters who found rich hunting in the Indian lands. All large animals were exterminated down to the last wolves and bears.

In 1905, newly-elected President Roosevelt, began his quest to return the buffalo to the plains. William Hornaday, first director of the New York Zoological Park, solicited funds to purchase bison from the remaining private herds. The animals were cared for at the New York Zoological Park, predecessor of the Bronx Zoo. A member of the NY Zoological Society surveyed the Wichita Mountain site to see if the area was appropriate for bison restoration. In March 1905, the NY Zoological Society told Congress that they would donate several bison if they would cover the cost of fencing and maintenance. Congress approved the site and funding.

Thanks to Roosevelt, Horniday and the NY Zoological Society, the dream of restoring a piece of the nation’s heritage came to pass.

In October 1907, 15 bison from four herds with differing bloodlines traveled by train from New York City to Oklahoma. After the 1,800 mile journey, the bison were unloaded from the rail cars at Cache, and transferred to wagons for the final 13 miles. Everyone for miles around came to observe the historic spectacle. Children, who had never seen the wild animals, were enthralled. Comanche elders wore their finest tribal attire to welcome the Great Spirit Cattle back home. The buffalo were given names of great Indian warriors, including Geronimo.


Buffalo grazing on prairie grass.

As a northeasterner, the closest I ever came to a bull was a moose in Maine. The closest I had ever been to a buffalo was looking at the far side of a nickel. That was until a trip this summer to Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge.

It is early morning and the ground thunders as their hooves pound the prairie. The buffalo run, then slow. They are the color of dark chocolate brownies and extremely photogenic. They are massive creatures, over a ton, and graze in a meadow with all of the prairie grass they can eat. A few hundred yards away is a lake with all the water they can drink. Good thing, for it seems that the bulls drink water by the gallon. They use the surrounding rocks to scratch their bellies or other parts they cannot easily reach, leaving tufts of shed fur perfect for lining the nest of a bird or prairie dog den. After lunch and a long drink, it is time to take a nap. The hot summer sun has many of the herd resting and rolling on the ground, except for the calves, who romp and play while their parents doze to beat the heat.

This is a scene that has not been observed since the 1870s – a herd of buffalo roaming the Southern Prairie. Today, over 600 buffalo freely roam the 59,000 acre Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge.


About the Author: Marcia is with EPA’s Center of Expertise for School IPM in Dallas, Texas. She holds a PhD in Environmental Management from Montclair State University along with degrees in Biology, Environmental Design, Landscape Architecture, and Instruction and Curriculum. Marcia was formerly with the EPA Region 2 Pesticides Program and has been a professor of Earth and Environmental Studies, Geology, and Oceanography at several universities.



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Protecting Communities through Superfund Enforcement Mon, 11 Jan 2016 21:35:30 +0000 By Cyndy Mackey

December 2015 marked the 35th Anniversary of the Superfund program, the federal government’s most successful program designed to clean up the nation’s contaminated land and water and respond to environmental emergencies. I oversee EPA’s Superfund enforcement program, which focuses on cleaning up neighborhoods, ensuring that the polluter pays, and protecting human health and the environment.

The past 35 years have brought significant changes to Superfund through congressional amendments, changes to perspective through reauthorization discussions, and interpretations from the judicial system. Not only has the law changed, but technology has, too.

I am proud to have dedicated my career to cleaning up contaminated sites, and my goal in my current role is to support EPA’s work to find responsible parties and make sure that polluters pay for the cost of cleanups instead the American taxpayers.

For every dollar spent by the Superfund enforcement program, private parties commit to spending eight dollars toward cleanup work leading to restoration of land and water, facilitating reuse and revitalization, and protecting communities. Since the program inception, EPA has secured over $35.1 billion in private party commitments and over $6.9 billion to recover past cleanup costs. EPA has been instrumental in helping to get the responsible parties to pay for cleanup of sites across the country. For example:

  • A 2006 enforcement agreement with General Electric resulted in a $2.7 billion cleanup of contaminated sediment and 300,000 pounds of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) being removed from the Hudson River riverbed. The dredging of the Hudson River PCB Superfund Site was completed in October 2015.
  • A 2014 settlement to resolve fraudulent conveyance charges against Anadarko and Kerr-McGee associated with the Tronox bankruptcy means $1.9 billion will go toward cleanup of contaminated Superfund sites across the country.
  • A 2009 agreement required $975 million for the cleanup of contamination at the TVA Kingston Fossil Plant in Tennessee. This agreement facilitates the cleanup of 5.4 million cubic yards of coal ash waste impacting the Emory River and adjacent land.
  • In 2007, EPA collected more than $124 million from Hercules Incorporated to recover costs for the Agency’s cleanup work at the Vertac Chemical and Jackson Landfill Superfund Sites in Jacksonville, Arkansas.

EPA’s Superfund enforcement program is strong and is committed to finding new solutions as we address new sites, industrial processes, and hazardous substances to ensure human health and the environment are protected in communities across the country.

More information about Superfund’s accomplishments over the past 35 years.

About the author: Cyndy Mackey oversee EPA’s Superfund enforcement program, which focuses on cleaning up neighborhoods, ensuring that the polluter pays, and protecting human health and the environment.

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This Week in EPA Science Fri, 08 Jan 2016 19:25:06 +0000 By Kacey Fitzpatrick

Happy 2016! Here’s your first Research Recap of the New Year.

Research Recap graphic identifierHow Do You Fight The World’s ‘Largest Environmental Health Problem’?
More than 4 million people die prematurely every year from household air pollution—largely a result of indoor cooking with smoky stoves. Huffington Post recently featured a 2009 EPA People, Prosperity and the Planet (P3) Student Design Competition winner’s project, a solar cookstove, as a possible solution.

Read more about the solar cookstove in the article How Do You Fight The World’s ‘Largest Environmental Health Problem’? Harness The Sun.

Small Business Innovation Research
EPA’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program is a source of early-stage capital for innovative small companies in the green tech arena. Are you an entrepreneur with an idea for green technology? EPA’s Small Business Innovation Research Program may be an opportunity to help advance your brilliant idea into the marketplace. And you’re in luck—the deadline has been extended to January 14.

Learn more about the program here.

Neil deGrasse Tyson recently interviewed EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy on his show StarTalk. They discussed EPA’s efforts in keeping the Earth habitable for humans with co-host Maeve Higgins and guest Andrew Revkin, of Dot Earth, the science blog of The New York Times.

Watch the interview here.

Environmental Merit Awards
EPA is now accepting nominations for the 2016 Environmental Merit Awards, which recognize environmental achievements during the previous year. Do you know anyone deserving of the award? Categories are available for individuals, businesses, governmental entities, and other organizations.

Read more about the awards in the press release Nominations Open for EPA’s Annual Environmental Merit Awards in New England.


The Transform Tox Testing Challenge: Innovating for Metabolism
Out of thousands of chemicals in commerce today, very few have been fully evaluated for potential health effects. Today, EPA and partners announced a new challenge that will award up to $1 million to improve the relevance and predictivity of data generated from automated chemical screening technology used for toxicity testing.

Read more about the challenge in the press release Federal Agencies Partner to Launch the Transform Tox Testing Challenge to Improve Chemical Screening.


About the Author: Kacey Fitzpatrick is a student contractor and writer working with the science communication team in EPA’s Office of Research and Development.

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Un 2016 más ecológico Thu, 07 Jan 2016 20:16:46 +0000 Por Lina Younes

¡Feliz año nuevo! Al iniciar el nuevo año, buscamos maneras de tener un nuevo comienzo de una vida más saludable y más feliz. ¿Qué les parece encontrar formas de adoptar un estilo de vida más ecológico para el 2016?

Personalmente, elegí varias resoluciones verdes que me ayudarán a tomar acciones más ecológicas para mi familia, mi comunidad y el planeta. Me parece que serán fáciles de seguir a lo largo del año. Las comparto con ustedes. ¿Qué les parecen?

Resolución #1: ahorrar energía

El ahorrar energía en el hogar, la escuela y en la oficina puede comenzar con una simple bombilla. Admito que a veces sueno como un disco rayado tratando de convencer a mi hija menor que apague las luces cuando sale de su habitación. Este año quiero que ambas hagamos un esfuerzo especial por lograrlo. Esta acción sencilla puede lograr mucho para ahorrar energía.

También, en casa, nos hemos asegurado de tener efectos eléctricos con la etiqueta EnergyStar. ¿Acaso está planeando reemplazar su vieja computadora o comprar nuevos enseres electrodomésticos este año? Puede ahorrar energía y dinero también si escoge un nuevo electrodoméstico con la etiqueta EnergyStar.

Resolución #2: conservar agua

Definitivamente sin agua no podemos vivir. ¿Entonces, por qué no nos esforzamos para utilizar este preciado recurso de la manera más eficiente posible? Conservar agua ahorra energía y dinero. Este año me esforzaré para tomar duchas más cortas y cerrar el grifo cuando me cepille los dientes.  Estos pasos sencillos pueden contribuir positivamente.

¿Tiene algún grifo o inodoro que esté goteando? ¿Sabía que las fugas caseras desperdician más de un millón de millones de galones de agua al año solamente? ¡Yo he tenido problemas con fugas en los inodoros en casa y ya he aprendido de mi lección! No deje que un goteo le arruine. Busque la etiqueta WaterSense

Resolución #3: use sustancias químicas más seguras.

Todos hemos escuchado el dicho que reza “la limpieza va del lado de la piedad”. ¿Entonces, por qué no buscamos productos de limpieza más sanos para protegernos a nosotros mismos, a nuestra familia y al medio ambiente? ¿Sabía que tenemos un programa que se trata exactamente de eso mismo? Es el programa SaferChoice. Los productos con la etiqueta Safer Choice han cumplido con las normas estrictas de la EPA para asegurar que sean más ecológicos para proteger mejor a la gente, las mascotas, la salud de los trabajadores y el medio ambiente. Personalmente, siempre busco productos químicos más verdes para ayudar a proteger a mi familia. Me alegro de que hay más productos con la etiqueta SaferChoice disponibles en el mercado este año.

Resolución #4: reduzca, reutilice y recicle.

Hagamos un esfuerzo por reducir la basura desde el inicio. ¿Por qué no utilizar envases reutilizables en casa, en la escuela y en la oficina? El reducir las envolturas desechables y la basura ahorra dinero y, en esencia, protege al medio ambiente. ¿Está buscando maneras adicionales para reducir los desperdicios? He aquí más sugerencias sobre lo que usted puede hacer todos los días.

Este año, me concentraré en preparar almuerzos libres de desperdicio. Cuando prepare el almuerzo para que mi pequeña se lleve a la escuela o para llevar a mi trabajo, evitaré usar bolsas y envolturas de plástico desechables. Usaré envases reutilizables para la comida y la bebida. No solo evitaré que estas bolsas terminen en los vertederos municipales, sino estaré ahorrando dinero también.

Por cierto, no se olvide de las otras dos erres—reutilizar y reciclar. Para otros consejos sobre reciclaje (en inglés), visite:

Resolución #5: Sea más activo.

Muchas veces incluimos el perder peso entre las resoluciones del nuevo año. Sin embargo, ¿por qué no aspirar a ser más activo para tener un estilo de vida más sano y saludable? No tiene que hacerse miembro de un gimnasio caro para lograr su objetivo. Es mucho más sencillo y menos costoso de lo que usted piensa. ¿Qué le parece si simplemente se dedica a caminar más? Lleve a su perro a caminar en un largo paseo. ¿Qué tal le parece visitar un parque local?

Personalmente me propongo usar las escaleras con más frecuencia en el trabajo.  También tengo un nuevo escritorio para trabajar de pie. Así no tengo una vida tan sedentaria como en el pasado. Al estar más activa en el trabajo, estaré más saludable y protegeré el medio ambiente también. Me parecen opciones ganadoras.

¿Entonces, cuáles resoluciones ecológicas piensa adoptar para el 2016? Nos encantaría escuchar su opinión.

Acerca de la autora: Lina Younes ha estado trabajando en la EPA desde el 2002. En la actualidad se desempeña como la enlace de comunicaciones multilingües de la EPA en la Oficina de Comunicaciones del Web. Con anterioridad, ella fue la directora de la oficina en Washington, DC de dos periódicos puertorriqueños y ha trabajado también como funcionaria en agencias gubernamentales federales y estatales a lo largo de los años.

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A Greener 2016 Thu, 07 Jan 2016 18:53:26 +0000

By Lina Younes

Happy New Year! As we begin the new year, we’re looking for a fresh start to a healthier and happier life. How about finding ways to embrace a greener lifestyle for 2016?

Personally, I’ve selected some green resolutions that will help me make better environmentally sound choices for my family, my community and the planet. I think they’re easy to follow now and throughout the year. I’m sharing them with you. What do you think?water

Resolution #1: Save energy.

Saving energy at home, at school, or in the office can start with one simple light bulb. I know I often sound like a broken record trying to convince my youngest to turn off the lights in her room when she leaves. This year I want both of us to make that special effort. This simple action can go a long way to save energy.
Also, at home, we’ve made sure that all our major appliances have the Energy Star label.  Are you planning to to replace an old computer or household appliance this year? You can save energy and money, too, if you choose a new appliance with the label.

Resolution #2: Save water.

We definitely cannot live without water. So, why not do our best to use this precious resource as efficiently as possible? Saving water saves energy and money. This year, I’m making a special effort to take shorter showers and turn off the faucet while I brush my teeth. These simple steps can go a long way.

Do you have a leaky faucet or toilet? Did you know that household leaks waste more than 1 trillion gallons of water every year in the U.S. alone? I’ve had problems with leaky toilets at home and learned from the experience! Don’t let a leak break the bank.  Look for the WaterSense label when buying new water efficient toilets and other plumbing fixtures to save valuable water and money every day.

Resolution #3: Use safer chemicals.

We’ve all heard the expression: “cleanliness is next to godliness.” So, why not look for safer cleaning products to protect ourselves, our family and the environment? Did you know that we have a program that helps us do just that? It’s called SaferChoice. Products with the SaferChoice label have met high EPA standards to ensure that they’re greener to better protect people, pets, workers’ health and the environment. Personally, I seek greener chemicals to help protect my family. I’m glad there will be more products available with the SaferChoice label this year.

Resolution #4: Reduce, reuse, and recycle.

Make an effort to reduce waste from the outset. Why not use reusable containers at home, at school, and at the office? Reducing disposable packaging and waste saves you money and ultimately protects the environment. Looking for additional tips on how to reduce waste? Here are more suggestions on what you can do every day.

For starters, I’m focusing on waste free lunches. When I prepare lunches for my youngest to take to school or for me to bring to work, I’m avoiding disposable plastic bags. I’m using reusable containers for the food and beverages. Not only am I preventing those bags from ending up in a landfill, but I’m saving money, too.

By the way, don’t forget the other two R’s—reuse and recycle. For additional tips, visit:

Resolution #5: Be more active.

While we often include losing weight as a New Year’s resolution, how about aspiring to become more active as the means to a healthier lifestyle? You don’t have to sign up for an expensive gym membership to achieve that goal. It’s much easier and less costly than you think. How about simply walking more often? Take your dog on longer walks. How about visiting your local park?

Personally, I’m taking the stairs more often at work. I also have a new standing desk. So, I’m not as sedentary as in the past. Being more active at work, becoming healthier, and protecting the environment sound like a win-win to me!

So, what green resolutions will you embrace in 2016? We’d love to hear from you.

About the author:  Lina Younes has been working for EPA since 2002 and currently serves the Multilingual Communications Liaison in EPA’s Office of Web Communications. Prior to joining EPA, she was the Washington bureau chief for two Puerto Rican newspapers and she has worked for several federal and state government agencies over the years.


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Getting a Clue about Lead Plumbing Thu, 07 Jan 2016 16:48:01 +0000 by Lisa Donahue

Photo credit: Eric Vance, US EPA

Photo credit: Eric Vance, US EPA

In the classic murder-mystery board game of Clue, Colonel Mustard or Miss Scarlett might use a lead pipe as a weapon.  Where did that lead pipe come from?  That old mansion probably had lead pipes serving the kitchen, and running from the water main into the basement. Lead was a common plumbing material that was used then to manufacture brass faucets, pipe fittings, solder, and other plumbing components.

Congress banned lead pipes and limited lead in brass and solder in 1986 because lead can affect almost every system in the body. While children are most susceptible, adults can also experience harmful health effects from lead.

Any home, particularly those built before 1986, might still have lead in the plumbing.  Because lead can leach out of the plumbing into our drinking water, Congress recently changed the law to further restrict lead content in plumbing.  Instead of requiring everyone to remove the old pipes and faucets from their homes and businesses, the Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water Act that went into effect in 2014 requires that most fixtures manufactured and sold meet the new, lower-lead standard. When replacing leaky valves, renovating buildings, or building new construction, homeowners and contractors should make sure they’re using products that meet the new, lower-lead standards.

EPA’s consumer guide is a great reference that can help plumbers, contractors, homebuilders, and do-it-yourselfers figure out if the faucet they are buying meets the new standard.   The guide interprets common labeling marks you might find on packaging, in the product specifications, or from independent third-party certifiers to be certain a product meets the tighter standards.  EPA has also put together a Frequently Asked Questions guide to help everyone understand the new law, including the common question of what to do about inventory and replacement parts.

While there is no safe level of lead, the new law ensures that just about any plumbing product that is installed today meets the new standards, because minimizing the amount of lead in plumbing reduces our exposure to lead at the tap.

Most of us don’t think about our plumbing or water quality until there’s a leak or a problem. If you’d like to get “clued-in” to common issues related to water and lead, EPA’s website has more information.


About the author: Lisa Donahue is an Environmental Scientist with Region III’s Water Protection Division.  When it’s too dark to hike, bike, or ski, she enjoys playing board games with her family. She’s particularly good at Clue.



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En el 2016, comenzamos a trabajar firme e inmediatamente Tue, 05 Jan 2016 15:01:53 +0000 Por Gina McCarthy
Administradora de la EPA

De camino al 2016, la EPA estaba aprovechando los logros de un año monumental de acción climática—y no estamos aminorando el paso camino al nuevo año. En agosto pasado, el presidente Obama anunció el Plan de Acción Climática final, una norma histórica de la EPA para reducir la contaminación de carbono de las centrales eléctricas, el principal propulsor del cambio climático en nuestra nación. Entonces, el mes pasado en París, unos 200 países se unieron por primera vez y anunciaron un acuerdo universal para tomar acción sobre el clima.

Por lo tanto estamos comenzando a trabajar de manera firme e inmediata. Bajo el Acuerdo de París, los países se comprometieron a limitar el calentamiento global a dos grados centígrado a lo sumo, y a entablar esfuerzos para mantenerlo por debajo de 1.5 grados centígrado. La ciencia nos dice que estos niveles ayudarán a prevenir algunos de los impactos más devastadores del cambio climático, incluyendo sequías más frecuentes y más extremas, tormentas, fuegos, e inundaciones, así como el alza catastrófica del nivel del mar. Este acuerdo aplica a todos los países. Fija unos requisitos significativos de responsabilidad e informes, y lleva a todos los países a la mesa de negociaciones cada cinco años para desarrollar sus compromisos a medida que los mercados cambien y las tecnologías mejoren. También provee los mecanismos de financiamiento para que las economías en desarrollo puedan seguir hacia adelante mediante el uso de energía limpia.

Este año, nos basaremos en estos logros para asegurar una acción climática duradera que proteja la salud, la oportunidad económica y la seguridad nacional de todos en Estados Unidos. El personal de la EPA proveerá liderazgo técnico para asegurar los requisitos de informar sobre los gases de efecto invernadero y su inventario de manera consistente y transparente conforme al Acuerdo de París. Nuestra pericia doméstica en el monitoreo de la calidad del aire e inventarios de emisiones de gases de efecto invernadero ayudará a los países para asegurar que estén cumpliendo sus metas de reducción de gases de efecto invernadero. Asimismo, usaremos nuestras destrezas y conocimientos para identificar y evaluar sustitutos en Estados Unidos para reducir los hidrofluorocarbonos (los HFC), otro potente contaminante climático. Este trabajo en los Estados Unidos nos ayudará a liderar los esfuerzos globales para finalizar un requisito en el 2016 para que los países puedan reducir la producción y el uso de HFC bajo el Protocolo de Montreal.

En el 2016, la EPA defenderá e implementará el Plan de Energía Limpia para trabajar de cerca con los estados y partes interesadas a fin de crear planes sólidos para reducir su contaminación de carbono. Escribimos este plan con un nivel sin precedentes de insumo de las partes interesadas, incluyendo centenares de reuniones en todo el país y 4.3 millones de comentarios públicos. El resultado es una norma que es ambiciosa, pero alcanzable, y cae dentro de los cuatro pilares de la Ley de Aire Limpio, un estatuto que fue implementado exitosamente hace 45 años. Confiamos en que el Plan de Energía Limpia sobrevivirá la prueba del tiempo—el Tribunal Supremo de Estados Unidos ha fallado tres veces que la EPA no tan solo tiene la autoridad, sino la obligación para limitar la contaminación de carbono dañina bajo la Ley del Aire Limpio.

Y de igual importancia, el Acuerdo de París y la Ley de Agua Limpia están ayudando a movilizar el capital privado en todo el mundo hacia inversiones bajas en carbono. Estados Unidos ha enviado una clara señal de que un futuro bajo en carbono es inevitable y que el mercado recompensará aquellos que desarrollen tecnologías bajas en carbono y desarrollen sus activos de manera resistente a los impactos climáticos. Es por eso que 154 de las compañías estadounidenses más grandes, representando 11 millones de empleos y más de siete millones de millones en capitalización del mercado, firmaron el Compromiso de la Casa Blanca para Empresas Estadounidenses Tomar Acción Climática. Compañías como Walmart, AT&T, Facebook, y la Coca-Cola reconocieron que los impactos climáticos amenazan sus operaciones, mientras que la inversión en un futuro bajo en carbono es una oportunidad comercial sin precedentes.

Los estadounidenses saben que la acción climática es crítica—ya están viendo sus impactos ante sus propios ojos. Huracanes, sequías, tormentas y fuegos forestales se hacen cada vez más frecuentes y extremos. Ciudades como Miami ahora se inundan en los días soleados debido al alza en el nivel del mar. El cambio climático es un asunto moral, un asunto de salud, y un asunto de trabajo—es por eso que la gran mayoría de estadounidenses quieren que el gobierno federal haga algo al respecto y apoyan los resultados firmes de París.

Tenemos que hacer mucho más. Nos queda trabajo por delante y no vamos a cesar en nuestro empeño. Durante el pasado año, vimos logros climáticos sobresalientes que una vez creíamos imposibles y esto es gracias al liderazgo del presidente Obama. Su legado climático ya es impresionante, pero nos basaremos en estos logros en el 2016 para continuar protegiendo la salud y la oportunidad para todos en Estados Unidos. En la EPA, ya nos enrollamos las mangas. A trabajar.

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In 2016, We’re Hitting the Ground Running Mon, 04 Jan 2016 16:20:25 +0000 By Gina McCarthy

Heading into 2016, EPA is building on a monumental year for climate action—and we’re not slowing down in the year ahead. Last August, President Obama announced the final Clean Power Plan, EPA’s historic rule to cut carbon pollution from power plants, our nation’s largest driver of climate change. Then in Paris last month, nearly 200 countries came together for the first time ever to announce a universal agreement to act on climate.

So we’re hitting the ground running. Under the Paris Agreement, countries pledge to limit global warming to two degrees Celsius at most, and pursue efforts to keep it below 1.5 degrees Celsius. Science tells us these levels will help prevent some of the most devastating impacts of climate change, including more frequent and extreme droughts, storms, fires, and floods, as well as catastrophic sea level rise. This agreement applies to all countries, sets meaningful accountability and reporting requirements, and brings countries back to the table every five years to grow their commitments as markets change and technologies improve. It also provides financing mechanisms so developing economies can move forward using clean energy.

This year, we’ll build on these successes to ensure lasting climate action that protects Americans’ health, economic opportunity, and national security. EPA staff will provide their technical leadership to ensure consistent, transparent greenhouse gas reporting and inventory requirements under the Paris Agreement. Our domestic expertise in air quality monitoring and greenhouse gas inventories will help countries make sure they’re meeting their greenhouse gas reduction goals. Similarly, we’ll use our expertise to identify and evaluate substitutes in the U.S. to reduce hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), another potent climate pollutant. This work domestically will help us lead global efforts to finalize a requirement in 2016 for countries to reduce production and use of HFCs under the Montreal Protocol.

We will finalize a proposal to improve fuel economy and cut carbon pollution from heavy-duty vehicles, which could avoid a billion metric tons of carbon pollution and save 75 billion gallons of fuel by 2027. We’ll also finalize rules to limit methane leaks from oil and gas operations—which could avoid up to 400,000 metric tons of a climate pollutant 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide by 2025. Meanwhile, we’re doubling the distance our cars go on a gallon of gas by 2025.

In 2016, EPA will defend and implement the Clean Power Plan by working closely with states and stakeholders to help them create strong plans to reduce their carbon pollution. We wrote this plan with unprecedented stakeholder input, including hundreds of meetings across the country and 4.3 million public comments. The result is a rule that’s ambitious but achievable, and falls squarely within the four corners of the Clean Air Act, a statute we have been successfully implementing for 45 years. We’re confident the Clean Power Plan will stand the test of time—the Supreme Court has ruled three times that EPA has not only the authority but the obligation to limit harmful carbon pollution under the Clean Air Act.

Just as importantly, the Paris Agreement and the Clean Power Plan are helping mobilize private capital all over the world toward low-carbon investments. The U.S. has sent a clear signal that a low-carbon future is inevitable, and that the market will reward those who develop low-carbon technologies and make their assets resistant to climate impacts. That’s why 154 of the largest U.S. companies, representing 11 million jobs and more than seven trillion dollars in market capitalization, have signed the White House American Business Act on Climate Pledge. Companies like Walmart, AT&T, Facebook, and Coca-Cola recognize that climate impacts threaten their operations, while investing in a low-carbon future is an unprecedented business opportunity.

Americans know climate action is critical—they’re seeing its impacts with their own eyes. Hurricanes, droughts, wildfires, and storms are growing more frequent and extreme. Streets in cities like Miami now flood on sunny days due to sea level rise. Climate change is a moral issue, a health issue, and a jobs issue—and that’s why the strong majority of Americans want the federal government to do something about it, and support the strong outcome in Paris.

We’ve got a lot more work to do, and we’re not slowing down. Over the past year, we’ve seen remarkable climate achievements that once seemed impossible—and that’s thanks to President Obama’s leadership. His climate legacy is already impressive, but we will build on it in 2016 by continuing to protect health and opportunity for all Americans. At EPA, we’ve got our sleeves rolled up.

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