Got an Environmental Science Question? Ask an EPA Scientist!

Read the full post from U.S. EPA. Note that if you have a sustainability question, you can ask your regional P2Rx Center.

Have you ever had a question about something you saw and wished you had an expert you could ask? This happens to me all the time, so I decided to take advantage of working at EPA and start a new blog series called ‘Ask an EPA Scientist.’

I’m kicking off the series with a question that’s been on my mind recently.

Walking in a winter wonderland can be magical – but what about driving in one? Not so great. As I was driving (very slowly) through a snowstorm last week, I started wondering: What happens to all that road salt after the snow melts? Is it bad for the environment?

To find out, I asked EPA ecologist Paul Mayer, Ph.D. who conducts research on riparian zones and stream restoration. He and two Agency colleagues recently published a paper (Cooper et al. 2014) looking at the effects of road salt on a local stream.

EPA Designates Mahomet Aquifer as “Sole Source” of Drinking Water in East-Central Illinois

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced a decision to designate a portion of the Mahomet Aquifer system as a sole source aquifer. More than half of the population in east-central Illinois relies on the Mahomet Aquifer system as a source of drinking water.

The Safe Drinking Water Act gives EPA authority to designate all or part of an aquifer as a “sole source” if contamination of the aquifer would create a significant hazard to public health and there are no physically available or economically feasible alternative sources of drinking water to serve the population that relies on the aquifer. The designation authorizes EPA review of projects that receive Federal financial assistance to assess potential for contamination of the aquifer system that would create a significant hazard to public health.

The Mahomet Aquifer system is an underground layer of water-bearing sand and gravel that fills a wide bedrock valley in an area that includes 14 east-central Illinois counties. The aquifer system provides about 58 million gallons of drinking water each day for 120 public water systems and thousands of rural wells that serve about a half million people in Illinois.

EPA’s public comment period on the designation began on March 13, 2014, and closed on June 12, 2014. EPA held public hearings on May 13 in Champaign and on May 14 in Morton. Following a review of public comments, EPA prepared a Responsiveness Summary which addresses comments and answers questions. The decision goes into effect when it is published in the Federal Register.

The Responsiveness Summary and other relevant documents will be available to the public at EPA’s regional office, 77 W. Jackson Blvd., Chicago; Champaign Public Library, 200 W. Green St., Champaign; Bloomington Public Library, 205 E. Olive St., Bloomington; Pekin Public Library, 301 S. Fourth St., Pekin; Havana Public Library, 201 W. Adams St., Havana; and Watseka Public Library, 201 S. 4th St., Watseka.

For further information, go to www.epa.gov/region5/water/gwdw/mahomet

Our Commitment to Scientific Integrity at EPA

Read the full post at EPA Connect.

As someone who has devoted her career to the advancement of strong, independent science, I am thrilled to announce the release of EPA’s Fiscal Year 2014 Scientific Integrity Annual Report. In the report, we highlight accomplishments and identify areas for improvement and action, exemplifying the Agency’s unwavering commitment to setting and upholding the highest standards of scientific integrity in an open, transparent way.

GOP Embraced Environmental Protection Not Long Ago, Says Former EPA Chief

Read the full story in Scientific American.

William Ruckelshaus, the first EPA administrator, criticizes today’s GOP attacks on the agency as well as industry efforts to thwart scientific evaluations of toxic chemicals

Webinar: Corporate Sustainability and TRI: Exploring P2 Information for Facilities and Parent Companies

Date: Wednesday, February 4, 1:00-2:00 p.m. CST
Register: https://www1.gotomeeting.com/ register/312174544

Do you know which companies are taking steps to reduce their environmental footprint in the U.S.?

For the past two years, TRI’s Pollution Prevention (P2) Tool has been an excellent resource for learning what industrial facilities are doing to reduce toxic chemical pollution. Now, all the facility-level P2 and waste management data reported to EPA’s TRI Program is also available at the parent company level.

Join our next webinar to:

  • learn how the TRI P2 Tool can help you identify P2 successes and visually compare environmental performance at both the facility and corporate level
  • find out how to compare toxic chemical management and greenhouse gas emissions data at the corporate level
  • see what companies are doing to prevent the release of pollutants to the environment
  • get a live demonstration of the newly expanded TRI P2 Tool
  • see the latest industry- and chemical-level P2 trends featured in the 2013 TRI National Analysis report

Predictions and Outlook for EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention (OCSPP) 2015

Read the full memorandum from Bergson & Campbell PC.

2015 will be a very interesting year. There are two overarching considerations that will make the year more difficult to predict than merely assuming most of this year’s issues will simply be extensions of past issues, with a few new initiatives sprinkled in. First, the new Republican majority in the Senate will change the dynamic between the Executive and Legislative branches. Second, the Obama Administration will begin its lame duck status as it enters the last two years of office. Corollary to the end of the Obama Administration is the jockeying for the 2016 Presidential election that also begins now. The Iowa Presidential caucus is, after all, only a little more than a year away. We can expect the year to be full of Congressional oversight hearings, candidate jockeying, and a focus on various “legacy issues” as those transitioning put effort into finishing or attaining objectives set out earlier in the Administration.

Most of the high profile fireworks, even in the chemical policy space, will not directly involve the regulation of chemicals and pesticides. High profile activities will center on climate change policies and initiatives, and attempts to hinder or foster them. At the same time, for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention (OCSPP), we can expect serious consideration of legislative amendments to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) and continued attempts to revitalize the toxic chemicals program even without legislation, along with continued emphasis on various pesticide issues, such as pollinator protection, endangered species, worker protection standards, and endocrine testing requirements.

Enhanced EPA Oversight Needed to Address Risks From Declining Clean Air Act Title V Revenues

Download the document.

Weaknesses in the EPA’s oversight of Title V revenues and expenditures jeopardize program implementation and, in turn, compliance with air regulations for many of the nation’s largest sources of air pollution.