CARE About Your Community
EPA’s CARE (Community Action for a Renewed Environment) program encourages community leaders to be in the forefront of learning about and reducing environmental risks and impacts. While CARE used to provide grants to communities, at this point it does not because of a lack of congressional funding. However, the Agency is incorporating lessons from CARE as part of a strategy of community-based environmental protection.
Through CARE, the EPA provides a roadmap for communities to take hold and address environmental stressors. Here are some ways that you can become involved and help set the table for your company to be seen as a partner and not just an “environmental risk.”
Building partnerships. CARE encourages the building of effective partnerships in order to mobilize the whole community for action. Make sure that you have your ears tuned to what is going on in your community and be part of, if not a leader of, any efforts to tackle environmental issues in your community.
Identify environmental concerns. If your facility is viewed as a “polluter” in your community, be out front and upfront about the true environmental risks at your facility.
Collect and evaluate information. The EPA encourages citizens to collect information about pollution in their communities and to report it to the Agency. If your community has a “cleanup” or “water sampling” day or initiative, make sure you are there and help provide some of the “science” for these citizen scientists. It is important to ensure that any data that are collected, especially involving your facility’s emissions or discharges, are not only correct but also interpreted correctly. Probably no news to you, but there have been instances where total maximum daily loads (TMDLs) have been set for pollutants based on incorrect sampling and analysis. Also, some people view any releases that have to be reported on the toxic release inventory (TRI) as unlawful. Make sure members of your community understand what the TRI program is about and what you have done and are doing to reduce emissions and other releases at your facility.
Join us for the Practical Impact of New UST Rules on Industry webinar on July 30 to learn the practical impact these new EPA UST rules. Register now!
New EJ Tool
The EPA recently released a new environmental justice (EJ) application. EJSCREEN is a screening and mapping tool that allows users to choose a geographic area, and then it provides demographic and environmental information about that area. We are a little wary of any application that is accompanied by all the guidance and caveats this particular one has. Your regular citizen is not going to read all this. Most people will likely go to the application, plug in a geographic area and be confused and, in many cases, incensed, at the color-coded information they get.
Even the EPA says: “Anyone using EJSCREEN should note there is substantial uncertainty in demographic and environmental data, particularly when looking at small geographic areas. EJSCREEN is not intended to provide a risk assessment. Also EJSCREEN does not provide data on every environmental impact and demographic indicator that may be relevant to a particular location, and data may be several years old. Screening results should be supplemented with additional information and local knowledge to get a better understanding of the issues in a selected location.”
Tip: The tip here is to get to know the EJSCREEN tool yourself so that you can help interpret any information or misinformation someone in your community may be waving around.
Practical Impact of New UST Rules on Industry: How to Prepare for Tougher EPA Compliance Requirements
Sweeping changes to the underground storage tank (UST) regulations are finally here. On July 15, 2015, the EPA published its revised UST regulations in the Federal Register. Learn more.
Next month the Advisor will take a more in-depth look at EJSCREEN and how EPA’s use of the application may affect your operations.