Why did Trump order a media blackout for the EPA? Can he do that?

Read the full story in the Christian Science Monitor.

The measure is expected to be temporary as the new administration gets acclimated and its messaging in order. Civil rights and environmental groups say the ‘gag order’ on tweets and blogs is a step too far.

Zero Waste is Within Our Reach, But….

Read the full post from U.S. EPA.

I would have guessed that my fellow EPA employees would be leaders when it comes to recycling and reducing wastes. Turns out we are leaders, but not quite as far out front as I had hoped. In 2015, a presidential Executive Order on Sustainability directed federal agencies to do their best to divert at least half our non-hazardous wastes into recycling and composting, and to work our darnedest to reach zero waste. While we at EPA’s New England office have indeed succeeded in diverting more than half our waste to recycling and compost,  our regional office has yet to achieve net-zero waste (defined as sending at least 90 percent of our waste to recycling or composting) despite our best efforts.  We, like many other organizations, face many of the same challenges when it comes to modifying our own behavior.


Trump Administration Imposes Freeze On EPA Grants and Contracts

Read the full story from ProPublica.

The Trump administration has imposed a freeze on grants and contracts by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, a move that could affect a significant part of the agency’s budget allocations and even threaten to disrupt core operations ranging from toxic cleanups to water quality testing, according to records and interviews.

Hearing on Nomination of Attorney General Scott Pruitt to be Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works is holding Scott Pruitt’s confirmation hearing today. Pruitt has been nominated by President-Elect Trump to lead the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Video of the hearing is available on the committee’s web site.

Safer Choice Now in Spanish

Read the full post from EPA.

I was born in Venezuela and moved to Miami, FL when I was two years old.  Growing up in the U.S. with a Spanish speaking family, being bilingual was a natural outgrowth of my environment.  As owners of a small international business that sells primarily to South American countries, my parents work and communicate in Spanish all day.  I joined EPA’s Safer Choice program last November and have had the privilege to design our new Spanish website.  This website, Safer Choice en español, can help millions of Spanish speaking people, like my father, easily find information on products with safer ingredients.

Safer Choice in español helps spread awareness of safer cleaning and other products to the largest ethnic minority in the United States and to other Spanish-speaking countries.  It is essential that all people, including Spanish-speaking communities, understand the importance of easily finding products with ingredients that are safer for human health and the environment.

North Carolina Congressman Wants To Ban EPA Employees From Flying For Work

Read the full story at Climate Progress.

Congress is getting ready to dole out funds for the Environmental Protection Agency, with the House Rules Committee meeting Monday night to go over the more than 140 proposed amendments for this year’s $32 billion dollar EPA-Interior funding bill.

And if a North Carolina congressman gets his way, EPA officials may find themselves taking more buses and trains than planes for official business: Rep. Richard Hudson (R-NC) has proposed an amendment that would ban EPA officials from using funds to pay for official travel by plane.

Environmental Protection: Status of GAO Recommendations to EPA

Download the document.

What GAO Found

As of May 23, 2016, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had implemented 174 of the 325 recommendations GAO made in fiscal years 2006 through 2015. EPA had not yet implemented the remaining 151 recommendations. The figure below shows the status of the 325 recommendations, which fall into six broad categories that relate to EPA programs and operations. These are: (1) management and operations; (2) water issues; (3) environmental contamination and cleanup; (4) toxics, chemical safety, and pesticides; (5) air quality, climate change, and energy efficiency; and (6) public health and environmental justice. Almost three-fourths of the recommendations fall into the first three categories and include actions to better manage grants, improve regulation of drinking water contaminants, and better manage hazardous waste cleanup. Most of the recommendations not yet implemented concern EPA management and operations and water issues. For example, regarding management and operations, EPA has not yet implemented GAO’s recommendation to improve procedures for processing congressional committee requests for scientific advice. Similarly, for water issues, EPA has not fully implemented GAO’s recommendations related to providing oversight guidance and working with states on water quality protection measures.

Status of GAO Recommendations to EPA, Fiscal Years 2006-2015, as of May 23, 2016

Status of GAO Recommendations to EPA, Fiscal Years 2006-2015, as of May 23, 2016

GAO has identified many benefits— programmatic and process improvements and financial benefits—based on EPA taking actions on these recommendations and related work. For example, in 2010, GAO found that EPA had not maintained attention to children’s health issues through agency strategies and priorities since 2000. GAO recommended that EPA’s strategic plan expressly articulate children-specific goals, objectives, and targets. EPA agreed, and on September 30, 2010, EPA submitted its fiscal year 2011-2015 strategic plan to Congress, which included children’s health and environmental justice as a cross-cutting strategy, and children-specific goals. In addition, GAO has identified financial benefits from implementation of its recommendations and related work. For example, in 2008, GAO identified an error in EPA’s calculation of reimbursable indirect costs for hazardous waste cleanup. EPA acknowledged the error and published revised indirect costs rates. As a result, GAO estimated in 2010 that EPA had recovered or would recover $42.2 million.

Why GAO Did This Study

EPA’s mission is to protect human health and the environment. To accomplish this mission, EPA develops and enforces environmental regulations; awards grants; and studies environmental issues, among other things. GAO has conducted reviews focused on various aspects of EPA’s programs and operations. Through this work, GAO has made numerous recommendations to improve EPA’s performance and the efficiency and effectiveness of its programs and operations.

GAO continuously engages with executive branch agencies to ensure its recommendations are implemented. For example, GAO regularly follows up with agencies on its recommendations and posts their status online. Also, in 2015, GAO sent letters to the heads of key executive branch agencies, including EPA, identifying unimplemented recommendations that warrant priority attention.

This statement discusses (1) the status of EPA’s implementation of GAO recommendations for fiscal years 2006 through 2015 and how these recommendations relate to EPA programs and operations and (2) benefits realized by EPA based on GAO’s work, including through implementing GAO’s recommendations. It is based on GAO’s prior work from October 2005 through September 2015 and an analysis of recommendations GAO made to EPA during this period from data maintained in an internal database used to track the status of GAO recommendations.