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45 Years of fulfilling our Mission

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By Gina McCarthy

Just two weeks after the EPA was established in 1970, our first-ever Administrator, Bill Ruckelshaus, issued a statement calling the birth of our agency the start of America’s “reclaiming the purity of its air, its water, and its living environment.”

Just last week, 45 years later – nearly to the day – President Obama honored Ruckelshaus with the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his tireless work to get our agency up and running, protect public health, and combat global challenges like climate change.

In bestowing the award, President Obama said, “Bill set a powerful precedent that protecting our environment is something we must come together and do as a country.”

Each day, when I come to work and walk the halls at EPA, I feel proud that our agency is continuing to build on Bill’s legacy.

Later this week, I will join the US delegation to the UN Conference on Climate Change in Paris, where our agency will play a central role in negotiations that could mark a historic turning point to protect our planet for generations to come. I’m confident that the US can get the job done.

Ruckelshaus’ well-deserved honor is a reminder of the amazing progress we’ve made as an agency in just four and a half decades. We have evolved into a world-class model of environmental protection under the law.

We’ve come so far together. Fifty years ago, we pumped toxic leaded-gas into our cars; people smoked on airplanes; and residents of cities like Los Angeles could barely see each other across the street.

Today, EPA’s work has changed all of that – and more. We’ve cut air pollution by 70 percent; we’ve phased out leaded-gasoline; we’ve removed the acid from rain, we’ve helped clear the air of second-hand smoke; and we’ve cleaned up beaches and waterways, all while our economy has tripled.

Throughout it all, EPA has embodied the concept of participatory government. We’ve engaged states, communities, industry partners, and the public. We’ve listened to the needs of people on the ground, and we’ve worked transparently, hand in hand with citizens and families to protect their health, their communities, and their ability to earn a decent living. That’s something to be proud of.

At every step of the way, we’ve followed the science and the law to tackle immensely difficult challenges. And that work is continuing every day.

I thank and congratulate everyone who has played a part in building EPA’s legacy.

Here’s to working together to fulfill our mission for another 45 years!

Source: EPA Science Water News

Source: Water Industry News

AP test: Rio Olympic water badly polluted, even far offshore

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A new round of testing by The Associated Press shows the city’s [Rio de Janeiro] Olympic waterways are as rife with pathogens far offshore as they are nearer land, where raw sewage flows into them from fetid rivers and storm drains. … The results sent shockwaves through the global athletic community, with sports officials pledging to do their own viral testing to ensure the waters were safe for competition in next year’s games. 

Source: California Water News feed

Source: Water Industry News

The Stream, December 2: Droughts Threaten Energy, Development in Africa

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The  Global Rundown

The Global Rundown

Droughts in Ethiopia and Zimbabwe are putting pressure on hydropower production, while extreme droughts in southern Africa could put development gains at risk. Meanwhile, heavy rains have flooded Chennai, India. An airstrike in Aleppo, Syria, last week cut off water supplies to millions of people. The tailings dam disaster at an iron ore mine in Brazil will cost hundreds of millions of dollars, according to one of the mine’s owners.

“In Syria, the rules of war, including those meant to protect vital civilian infrastructure, continue to be broken on a daily basis. The air-strike which reportedly hit al-Khafseh water treatment plant in the northern city of Aleppo last Thursday is a particularly alarming example.”– Hanaa Singer, the UNICEF representative in Syria, on an airstrike last week that left 3.5 million people in Aleppo temporarily without water. (Reuters)

By the Numbers

By The Numbers

$1.2 billion Amount of a loan from China to Zimbabwe to restore and expand the country’s coal-fired Hwange power plant. Production of hydropower, a major energy source in Zimbabwe, has been inhibited by low water levels. Bloomberg

$443 million Amount Brazilian mining company Vale SA estimates a tailings dam failure at its Samarco iron mine last month will cost the company. Lawsuits and clean-up costs will likely increase that number. Reuters

Science

Science, Studies, And Reports

Rainfall amounted to 1049.3 millimeters in Chennai, India, during November, making it the most severe rainfall in nearly a century. After the latest rainstorm, areas of the city and the airport are flooded, and schools have been closed. NDTV

On the Radar

On The Radar

A lackluster rainy season could lead to water shortages at hydropower stations in Ethiopia over the next several months, according to government officials. The country generates more than 90 percent of its electricity from hydropower. Bloomberg

A severe drought in southern Africa is creating water shortages in Botswana. Droughts and other severe weather could harm the development progress made in the region if water infrastructure and management improvements do not occur, according to experts. Vice News

The post The Stream, December 2: Droughts Threaten Energy, Development in Africa appeared first on Circle of Blue WaterNews.

Source: Water News

Source: Water Industry News

Announcing a Series of Actions to Strengthen EPA’s Civil Rights Program

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By A. Stanley Meiburg, Acting Deputy Administrator

Today, EPA is taking both regulatory and management actions to move its civil rights program forward and prevent discrimination.

EPA takes seriously its responsibilities under the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and other federal nondiscrimination laws. Today we are proposing a rule change to both improve how our Office of Civil Rights (OCR) operates and enhance our ability to help our partners comply with these laws.  In addition to the rule change, we are developing tools to help resolve cases more promptly and consistently across the country.

Over the last year and a half, we have been reevaluating our regulations to identify what data and information we currently obtain from grant recipients and how we can make our processes more effective and transparent. We have benchmarked our rules against those of twenty other federal agencies and are proposing changes to conform more closely to the best practices used by others.

One change is to remove inflexible, non-statutory deadlines from our internal rules that fail to respect the individual circumstances of each complaint. We support clear management milestones, but we also recognize that determining how pollution can impact populations is a scientifically complex process that can take longer than our previous deadlines allowed. We have also found that numerous discrimination allegations and legal theories may be asserted in a single complaint under Title VI or other nondiscrimination statutes, and we need the ability to treat each case individually.

This rule change will enable EPA to use new tools to resolve cases and protect communities, including informal resolution and Alternative Dispute Resolution, better positioning EPA to strategically manage its complaint docket and produce better case resolution outcomes.

On the management side, earlier this fall OCR released an External Compliance and Complaints Program Draft Strategic Plan 2015-2020 that set forth specific accountability measures to manage the docket of external complaints more promptly. Today we are also releasing an internal Case Resolution Manual, which we will post on line.  This manual will align OCR’s procedures with those already in place at many other federal agencies.

OCR is also strengthening its proactive compliance efforts through targeted compliance reviews, strategic policy development, and engagement with internal and external stakeholders—including recipients and communities. Proactive engagement and partnerships with recipients will let OCR address potential discrimination before it becomes a challenge for communities. This winter, we will release a Civil Rights Toolkit to help educate states, other recipients of EPA financial assistance, and communities on their rights and obligations under federal laws prohibiting discrimination in providing and utilizing federal assistance grants.

Finally, OCR will work more closely with communities to make sure they understand their nondiscrimination rights and how to work more effectively with recipients of federal financial assistance to secure those rights. For example, in the past some communities filed complaints with OCR against private companies that were not recipients of federal funds and thus were not subject to Title VI requirements. By working with communities from the beginning, we can help direct their concerns to where they can best be resolved, and strengthen transparency and accountability. Starting in 2016, OCR will publish an annual report to keep the public apprised of the office’s progress.

OCR is committed to systematically changing the way it approaches complaints, and EPA is committed to building a model civil rights program. I am confident that through the dedicated, proactive work of our staff and the efforts of recipients and communities, we will make that vision a reality.

Thank you for your interest and for sharing our commitment to both protect the environment and our civil rights as provided in federal law.  If you would like to learn more information, the website here can help.

Source: EPA Science Water News

Source: Water Industry News