This Strategic Plan deepens EPA’s commitment to protecting human health and the environment for all people, with an emphasis on historically overburdened and underserved communities. For the first time, EPA’s final Strategic Plan includes a new strategic goal focused solely on addressing climate change and an unprecedented goal to advance environmental justice and civil rights. These priorities are integrated throughout the Plan’s programmatic goals and cross-agency strategies, which are supported by long-term performance goals EPA will use to monitor and communicate progress.
EPA has announced the of ECHO Notify, a new web tool that empowers members of the public to stay informed about important environmental enforcement and compliance activities in their communities. Through ECHO Notify, users can sign up to receive weekly emails when new information is available within the selected geographic area, such as when a violation or enforcement action has taken place at a nearby facility.
“EPA is committed to empowering communities with the information they need to understand and make informed decisions about their health and the environment,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “We’ve also seen that increased transparency leads to stronger deterrence of environmental violations. As more people play an active role in protecting their neighborhoods from pollution, EPA has developed ECHO Notify so that finding updates on environmental enforcement and compliance activities is as easy as checking your email.”
ECHO Notify provides information on all EPA enforcement and compliance activities as well as activities of state and local governments under the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, and the Safe Drinking Water Act.
You can find ECHO Notify on EPA’s website at ECHO Notify, as shown below.
Visitors to the ECHO Notify homepage who wish to receive email updates only need to take a few simple steps:
- Create an account, if you don’t have one already;
- Select a geographic area and/or facility ID(s);
- Choose the type of compliance and enforcement information of interest;
- Enter an email address; and
- Click “subscribe.”
Once subscribed, the user will receive an automated email (typically on Sunday) containing new information from the prior weeklong period. If no new information is available, no email will be sent. Email notifications include links for users to view additional information on ECHO, including a link to each facility’s Detailed Facility Report. Users can easily update their notification selections or unsubscribe at any time.
EPA has prepared a video that provides an overview of ECHO Notify and explains how to use it. The video can be seen here, ECHO Tutorial: Intro to ECHO Notify
Read the full story at The Intercept.
An internal workplace survey commissioned by the EPA reveals a work environment that agency scientists and other staff describe as “hostile,” “oppressive,” “toxic,” “extremely toxic,” and “incredibly toxic.” After whistleblowers from the Environmental Protection Agency’s New Chemicals Division publicly accused several colleagues and supervisors of altering chemical assessments to make chemicals seem safer, the agency hired consultants to ask employees about their experiences of working in the division, which assesses the safety of chemicals being introduced to the market. A resulting report, completed in January and released in response to a public records request in March, reveals a workforce consumed by internal disputes and torn between the agency’s environmental mission and intense pressure from chemical companies to quickly approve their products on tight deadlines.
Read the full story at The Verge.
Come July, the EPA plans to retire the archive containing old news releases, policy changes, regulatory actions, and more. Those are important public resources, advocates say, but federal guidelines for maintaining public records still fall short when it comes to protecting digital assets.
Read the full story from Common Dreams.
The Environmental Protection Agency has announced that it will be discontinuing its online archive in July 2022. This means the public will lose access to tens of thousands of web resources. These resources convey information about critical environmental issues, and past and present agency activities, policies, and priorities. All of these resources are publicly funded and intended for public consumption, but the public will no longer be able to access them.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced the implementation of a new process by which the Science Advisory Board (SAB) will assess the science that informs decisions regarding Agency proposed rules. The new process will restore opportunities for peer review and strengthen the independence of the board. The improved process builds on the principle that early engagement with the Science Advisory Board is a priority and will best enable EPA to benefit from the expert advice received from the board.
This new process strengthens peer review at EPA by:
- restoring the SAB’s role by having structured opportunities to conduct peer review of critical scientific and technical actions developed by EPA.
- strengthening the independence of the SAB’s role by scoping and identifying the peer review need for EPA decisions.
- ensuring EPA considers and develops peer reviewed science early in their rule-making development process.
- restoring public faith in the EPA by ensuring the use of peer reviewed science to inform decision making.
“The Science Supporting EPA Decisions process is a victory for peer reviewed science and will lead to better EPA rule-making decisions” said Thomas Brennan, Director of the SAB Staff Office. “This process is effective immediately.”
The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to restoring the central role of science and evidence in addressing numerous challenges to public health and the environment, including climate change, environmental justice, PFAS, children’s health, air quality, water quality, contaminated lands, and many others. Durable EPA decision-making is dependent on the credibility of the science that informs these decisions. The credibility of the science depends on adherence to well established, time-tested processes and procedures for peer review that assure scientific integrity, and strong peer review depends on engaging independent external experts in a timely and rigorous manner. Today’s action addresses these goals.
A memo from Associate Administrator for Policy Victoria Arroyo, Deputy Assistant Administrator for the Office of Research and Development Christopher Frey and Director of the SAB Staff Office Thomas Brennan outlines the improved process for engaging the EPA Science Advisory Board (SAB) in the review of the scientific and technical basis of proposed EPA decisions. This memorandum was issued at the direction of the Administrator and supersedes prior procedures.
The memo was issued on February 28, 2022 and is available on the SAB Staff Office website.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Michael S. Regan has announced the appointment of Robin Morris Collin to be EPA’s Senior Advisor to the Administrator for Environmental Justice. Collin will advise Administrator Regan as the Agency works to advance environmental justice and civil rights in communities that continue to suffer from disproportionately high pollution levels, including low-income communities and communities of color.
Collin is nationally recognized for her leadership and scholarship in the areas of sustainability, energy, and environmental justice, and joins the Agency after serving as the Norma Paulus Professor of Law at Willamette University in Oregon. Collin was one of the first U.S. law professors to teach sustainability courses in a U.S. law school and served as founding chair of the State of Oregon’s Environmental Justice Task Force, among other positions on local, state, and federal environmental justice organizations.
“From my first day at EPA, I have committed to embedding equity, environmental justice, and civil rights into the DNA of the Agency’s programs, policies, and processes, and to delivering tangible results to underserved communities. That’s why I am so pleased to welcome Robin, one of the nation’s foremost experts and a lifelong advocate for overburdened communities, as my senior advisor for environmental justice,” said Administrator Michael S. Regan. “Robin brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to the agency and is the ideal person to ensure our most vulnerable populations have a seat at the table as we work to deliver environmental justice.”
“Climate change is the single greatest environmental challenge of our time. Environmental justice is the way a multiracial, multi-ethnic society engages that challenge. I am honored to serve in this role to protect our land, air, and water and, as part of that work, lift up underserved communities so that we may all thrive together,” said Robin Morris Collin. “I look forward to the privilege of working with Administrator Regan and the experienced, thoughtful, and collaborative leadership team at EPA.”
Prior to her time at Willamette University, Collin held professorships at Tulane Law School, McGeorge School of Law, and the University of Oregon, and visitorships at Washington & Lee Law School, and Pepperdine Law School. Her work on environmental justice has been published in numerous academic journals. Throughout her career, Collin has been recognized for creative and entrepreneurial leadership and her ability to develop equitable solutions, receiving the EPA Environmental Justice Achievement Award, the Leadership Award by Oregon State Bar as founder of the Sustainable Futures section of the Bar, the Judith Ramaley Award for Civic Engagement, and the David Brower Lifetime Achievement Award.
Collin comes from a family of academic and entrepreneurial achievers. Her great grandfather, an enslaved person, became a professor of math and Greek at Bennet College in North Carolina, and her father, John Payton Morris, founded an ocean-going vessel line in Maryland. Collin holds a B.A. from Colorado College and a J.D. from Arizona State University.
“Professor Collin is an excellent choice to lead the EJ efforts at the EPA,” said Dr. Beverly Wright, founding executive director of the Deep South Center for Environmental Justice (DSCEJ). “We look forward to working with her and Administrator Regan to continue this important work on behalf of the Biden-Harris Administration to address the urgent needs of underserved communities that have been left behind for way too long.”
“I am thrilled that Professor Collin has been appointed by the Biden-Harris Administration to serve in this critical role at the EPA,” said Dr. Robert Bullard, Distinguished Professor of Urban Planning and Environmental Policy at Texas Southern University. “Professor Collin has dedicated her entire life’s work to uplifting communities in need and I know that together we will work towards delivering meaningful results to those that need it most.”
In last year’s Fiscal Year 2022 budget request, President Biden proposed creating a new National Program Manager (NPM) for Environmental Justice and Civil Rights at EPA. The head of the new NPM would be an Assistant Administrator to be nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate. Further information and details on the proposed reorganization are under development. EPA is working closely with the Office of Management and Budget and Congress on the proposal.
The EPA has all but stopped posting online data about new types of problems commercial chemicals may cause, frustrating public interest groups and businesses that use the information to make health and safety decisions.
The Environmental Protection Agency says it went from posting substantial risk notices for hundreds of chemicals every year in its ChemView database—to posting just two notices since 2019—because the employee who updated the website retired, and because it’s not legally required to keep the website up to date.
The only way to view the data immediately is to visit the EPA headquarters in Washington, D.C. That leaves the public “completely blind to critical health and safety information for hundreds of chemicals,” said Jennifer McPartland, a health scientist at the Environmental Defense Fund.
Read the full story at Products Finishing.
In the first week of January 2022, the Science Advisory Board (SAB) PFAS Panel reviewed draft documents for deriving a maximum contaminant level goal (MCLG) for perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) or perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) as well as an analysis of cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk reduction as a result of reduced PFOA and PFOS exposure in drinking water. EPA uses health-based MCLGs to set enforceable drinking water standards after taking into consideration cost and technology concerns. EPA will use the CVD document in its cost-benefit analysis for the enforceable drinking water standard…
EPA science advisors criticized several aspects of the draft documents the agency plans to use to set enforceable drinking water limits, saying that even when the agency’s approach appears to be reasonable, EPA has failed to adequately explain its rationale. The criticisms follow, and in some cases echo, concerns a variety of public commenters have raised about the documents, where state health officials, industry groups and drinking water officials have said the documents contain numerous errors and inconsistencies. Specifically, the panel reviewed a draft framework for estimating noncancer risks associated with PFAS mixtures, raising concerns it could hamper ongoing state efforts to control the chemicals.
Read the full story in the Washington Post.
Nearly a year after President Biden vowed to make environmental justice a centerpiece of his climate policy, [Michael] Regan traveled to an area where African Americans experience some of the worst pollution in the nation and suffer from cancer rates well above the U.S. average. He touted a just-enacted infrastructure package that provides $300 billion for projects targeting pollution, including up to $15 billion to replace lead pipes that poison drinking water, as evidence of the new administration’s focus on disadvantaged communities.
But many who have spent years fighting pollution and an epidemic of cancer remain skeptical that projects promised in Washington will actually reach the places where they live.