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green@work : Magazine : Back Issues : Sept/Oct 2001 : Cover Story : Six Months

Cover Story Insert
SIX MONTHS OF ENVIRONMENTAL PROGRESS


JANUARY 20 TO JULY 20, 2001
Over the past six months, the EPA reports that it is moving
forward on a number of important policy matters.

Energy Production and Environmental Protection
The president’s National Energy Policy reflects the administration’s commitment to environmental protection, energy production and economic prosperity. With nearly half the plan’s specific recommendations promoting environmentally sound energy practices, the EPA is a major partner in the administration’s effort to enact the first comprehensive energy policy for America in a generation. Among EPA action items already underway are a review of New Source Review, an expansion of the Energy Star program and the crafting of a multi-pollutant bill.

Promoting Hemispheric Environmental Partnerships
At the meeting of the Council of the Commission for Environmental Cooperation in Guadalajara, Mexico, on June 29, 2001, Whitman secured a pledge from the environmental ministers of Mexico and Canada “to explore further opportunities for market-based approaches for carbon sequestration, energy efficiency and renewable energy in North America.”

Cleaner Air through Cleaner Diesel Fuel
Whitman affirmed a rule to reduce emissions from large trucks and buses and to reduce sulfur levels in diesel fuel. This action will result in significant health benefits to the American people, including the saving of as many as 8,300 lives a year and enhancing the health of children suffering from asthma by preventing more than 360,000 asthma attacks and 386,000 cases of respiratory symptoms annually.

Improving Views in America’s National Parks
To improve the experience of visitors to America’s national parks, the EPA proposed a rule to control the emissions from older power plants and other industrial facilities that contribute to haze, which, too often, spoil the scenic views that once captivated visitors. Parks whose vistas will be improved include Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon and Sequoia.

Cleaner Burning Gasoline in the Midwest
To help control gasoline prices in Chicago, IL, and Milwaukee, WI, without compromising air quality, the EPA made it easier for refiners to add ethanol to gasoline to help it burn cleaner.
Cleaning Up America’s Brownfields
Whitman has been working closely with congress to secure passage of brownfields legislation to meet the president’s promise to give state and local governments greater flexibility and needed resources to turn community environmental eyesores into productive community assets. She also joined with members of the U.S. Conference of Mayors to accept its endorsement of the administration’s brownfield proposal. In addition, Whitman announced the awarding of more than $38 million in grants for a total of 36 new brownfield pilot projects in communities across the country.

Eliminating Persistent Organic Pollutants
To protect the American people from the dangers of 12 chemicals that persist in the environment long after their use, Whitman represented the United States in Stockholm, Sweden, for the signing of the Convention on Persistent Organic Chemicals. This treaty bans or restricts the production, use and/or release of 12 chemicals that have been linked to numerous adverse effects in humans and animals, including cancer, central nervous system damage, reproductive disorders and immune system disruption.

Cleaner Drinking Water
To improve the purity of drinking water for America’s families and protect the public health, EPA issued a rule to protect consumers from microbial pathogens, including cryptosporidium.

 

Improving Rules for Cleaner Water
In response to criticisms from Congress and the National Academy of Sciences, Whitman has agreed to seek changes to the controversial Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) rule over the next 18 months. This action will protect the long-term health of America’s waterways by addressing numerous legal challenges that have effectively halted any further progress in cleaning up America’s lakes, rivers and streams.

Protecting Ground Water at Yucca Mountain
To ensure the protection of ground water sources for generations to come in and around the area of the proposed repository for radioactive waste at Yucca Mountain, NV, the EPA proposed a rule that will ensure the protection of groundwater for millennia to come.

Protecting America’s Wetlands

Whitman affirmed a rule to protect America’s wetlands by more closely regulating construction activities in wetlands. This rule (the Tulloch Wetland Rule) will help prevent loss of wetlands to construction practices that were being conducted under a “loophole” in regulations previously promulgated.

Arsenic Rule
In response to numerous concerns that the arsenic level set in the proposed rule was not sufficiently based on sound science and did not adequately address compliance cost issues, Whitman asked the National Academy of Sciences to perform an expedited review of a range of three to 20 parts-per-billion (ppb) of arsenic for a new drinking water standard to protect public health and asked the National Drinking Water Advisory Council to review the economic issues associated with a new standard. These studies are actively ongoing. Whitman expects to have the new standard in place in sufficient time to meet the 2006 implementation date set in the original proposal.

Increased Reporting on Lead
Whitman affirmed a rule to lower the threshold for reporting of lead used by industry. The new standard will require any company that manufactures, processes or uses 100 pounds of lead or more annually to report such use to the EPA as part of the Toxics Release Inventory. This will significantly increase the information available to the public about the uses of lead in America’s communities. Past practice has shown that such information generally leads to decreased emissions of reportable toxins by companies, leading to public health and environmental benefits.

Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs)
In response to numerous requests from the agricultural community, Whitman extended by 75 days the public comment period for this rule.

Promoting Food Safety
EPA achieved agreement among a broad group of stakeholders to an amended consent decree in a case concerning the use of pesticides in farming practices. The changes will guarantee new opportunities for public participation and additional external review of critical pesticide decisions aimed at protecting health and safety.

Ensuring Confidence in America’s Food Supply
To ensure public confidence in America’s food supply, the EPA has affirmed the importance of rigorous scientific evaluation of plants that have been engineered to protect themselves from pests such as insects, viruses and fungi (plant incorporated protectants).

 


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