After 4 decades of focusing on cleaning and protecting the environment, the EPA is using its 40th anniversary as a high profile opportunity to announce their commitment to sustainability. Sustainability, as defined by the World Commission on Environment and Development in 1987, is ” paths of progress which meet the needs and aspirations of the present generation without compromising the ability of the future generations to meet their needs.”
A November 30 EPA press release presented information on a “groundbreaking National Research Council Study” to be executed with sustainability in mind. The NRC’s study will build on current knowledge of human health and environmental issues and incorporate sustainability concepts into the EPA’s existing programs.
The Green Book
To facilitate the EPA’s new focus on sustainability, the National Research Council (NRC) will help develop the “Green Book.” This will be similar to the “Red Book,” published by the NRC in 1983. “The Red Book” helped to systematize environmental risk assessment and management for the EPA. The EPA intends to use the “Green Book” as a tool to assist the agency in coordinating air, water and land protection functions. It is part of a plan to provide a foundation for the new focus on sustainability.
10 Ways the EPA has Strengthened America
Across the country, EPA offices participated in anniversary events designed to show the impact of the agency’s four decades of effort to clean the air, land and water in American communities. One highlight was the list of 10 ways the EPA has strengthened America over the past 40 years. Here is the list as presented by EPA Administrator, Lisa P. Jackson.
Removing Lead from Gasoline-and from the Air
Removing the Acid from Rain
Clearing Secondhand Smoke
Vehicle Efficiency and Emissions Control
Controlling Toxic Substances
Banning Widespread Use of DDT
Rethinking Waste as Materials
A Clean Environment for All/Environmental Justice
The “Community Right to Know” Act
The EPA has set up EPA @ 40, a website that celebrates the Environmental Protection Agency’s 40 years of accomplishments. The site has an EPA time line and a slide-show called “40 Years of Images: Past, Present and Future.” The slide show includes pollution images from billowing industrial smokestacks to a smog darkened sky. The site also has a 40 year video montage with scenes of burning rivers, environmental marchers and discussions of how the EPA was originally seen as a controversial alternative to a polluted environment.
40 Years of Protecting the Environment and Still Going Strong
The Environmental Protection Agency was established in 1970 under President Richard M. Nixon. It was designed to combine federal efforts to monitor, set standards and enforce the protection of human health and the environment in one agency. The EPA was part of a new environmental focus initiated by Congress with the passing of the Clean Water Act and Clean Air acts.
Since the agency’s inception, they have been instrumental in passing Superfund laws, setting clean air standards and implementing plans for emergency responses to environmental accidents. In the nineties the EPA was responsible for Clean Air Act amendments. Recently the EPA initiated rules governing mercury, second hand smoke, heavy vehicles and truck emissions that contribute to ongoing air pollution.
A new EPA project will establish new chemical criteria to identify safer chemical alternatives to those that pose current threats to human health and the environment. The Design for the Environment Program (DfE) will evaluate data for targeted chemicals including the BPA used in thermal paper and decaBDE, added to fabric and plastic to retard flames.
After assessing targeted chemicals, the EPA will assign high, moderate or low environmental and health hazard levels. The EPA considers the system a “new tool” to help businesses, states and other organizations “strengthen and reform chemical management.”They also believe such assessments should lead to safer products in the future.
Anniversary press release
10 Ways the EPA has Strengthened America
EPA @ 40
“The Green Book” – http://www.epa.gov/air/oaqps/greenbk/index.html
World Commission on Environment and Development