Women and the Environment Briefing: Panel 1

Women and the Environment Briefing: Panel 1

Diane Thompson:
Thank you, Howie, and thank you
for all the work you’ve done to make this morning possible. Good morning. Audience:
Good morning. Speaker:
We are so delighted to have you
all here at this early morning, and I can’t tell you how
impressed I am that everybody is in their seats,
on time, ready to go. It is just not how
Washington typically works. (laughter) But we’re absolutely
delighted to be here. And thank you all so much
for joining us this morning. This is the culminating event
for EPA’s Women’s History Month which focused, as so much
of what we do at EPA does, on expanding the conversation
on environmentalism. Today you will hear from women
leaders who work at the White House and at EPA about the
agency’s work and the Obama administration’s
accomplishments. But of course, if this
is to be a conversation, there has to be
more than one side. And we are here
to listen to you, to understand your concerns, and
we hope by the end of the day to encourage you and, through you,
other women leaders as well to enhance your efforts to
protect the environment, public health and
our communities. As I said, we are very
excited about this event, it’s been in the
planning for a long time, we are thrilled to be able
to bring together so many extraordinary women leaders
during Women’s History Month to discuss how we
can work together. The women in this room come
from across the country. You are the executives of
multi-national companies and major nonprofit organizations,
you are small business owners, lawyers at prominent firms,
sole practitioners, consultants, soccer moms, community
leaders, and the list goes on. And many of you are more than
one thing in those categories. (Laughter) I understand there’s
someone here who was even a race car driver. So hey! There we go. We work in different fields,
but we all share the desire to improve the world around us
and to protect the future for our children and the
generations that follow. So the conversations
we’ll be having are sure to be productive. And we all hope they will lead
to a renewed commitment to make a difference on the many
significant environmental challenges we face. To that end, I think all of
you were given an assignment to think about the most important
environmental issue that you believe we will face over
the next three to five years. Please write that issue on the
Post-It that’s in your folders, and you will all be asked to be
prepared to discuss that issue during today’s
breakout sessions. As I speak of women
leaders, I would, of course, be remiss if I did
not note that at EPA, we have the great privilege of
working under the leadership of one of what we know to be this
country’s most impressive and inspiring women,
Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. (applause) And I’m not saying that
just because she’s my boss. (laughter) We are lucky to have strong and
accomplished women in leadership positions throughout the
EPA and throughout the entire Obama administration. And many of them will be
here today to speak with us. On that note, I would like
to introduce our first two distinguished speakers. We are fortunate to be joined by
two powerful and extraordinary leaders of the Obama
administration. Ms. Valerie Jarrett serves as
White House Senior Advisor and Assistant to the President for
inter-governmental relations and public liaison. Prior to joining the
Obama administration, Ms. Jarrett was the chief
executive officer of the Habitat Company, a real
estate development and management company. After graduating from the
University of Michigan law school, she practiced
at two law firms, joined the Daley administration
where she became the Deputy Chief of Staff and Commissioner
of Planning and Development for the City of Chicago. She was the chair of the Chicago
Transit Board and of the Board of Trustees of the University
of Chicago Medical Center. She was vice chair woman of
the Board of Trustees of the University of Chicago and a
trustee of Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry, and a mom. Ms. Tina Tchen, my
good friend Tina. Our daughters go to
the same high school, we have 9th graders, so you
know what we’re going through. (laughter) Yes. We’re on our second shift
today, having getting these kids out to school. Ms. Tina Tchen serves as the
assistant to the President and Chief of Staff
to the First Lady. Prior to joining the Obama
campaign and the administration, Ms. Tchen was a partner at the
Chicago office of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom. Whoever knew the
last three names. Where she worked for 23
years in corporate litigation representing public agencies,
including the Illinois Department of Child and
Family Services and the Chicago Housing Authority. Valerie and Tina worked together
to lead the White House Council on Women and Girls. Valerie is the council’s
chair, and Tina as the executive director. Please join me in welcoming
Ms. Valerie Jarrett and Ms. Tina Tchen. (applause) Valerie Jarrett:
Well, good morning, everyone. Audience:
Good morning. Valerie Jarrett:
We are so delighted
to have you here. What a perfect way to
start a Monday morning. And, Diane, thank you
for that introduction. It was a pleasure
to be over at EPA. Administrator Jackson invited
me to come over as we were celebrating Women’s History
Month and address her team. And the room was full
of amazing women, and we actually there had a few
good men who showed up as well. And I see my one good
man, my Chief of Staff, my counselor is in the
back, Mike Strautmanis, so we do the same over here. But thank you. And thank you for
mentioning my daughter. My daughter is 26, and for those
of you who have young daughters, I promise you, eventually they
do grow up and they even reflect back and go, you know, you
were right about a few of those things that you said, but it
takes — it takes a while to get them there, as I say
to Tina on a regular basis. But we are thrilled
to have you here. And we’re so fortunate to have
an administrator of the EPA who is not only smart and
compassionate and passionate and dedicated, but she also really
appreciates the unique role that the EPA can play in the
lives of women and girls. And so for Tina and for me, that
is so important in our role as chairing the — running the
council on women and girls. And just briefly, the council
was created by the President really very shortly
after he took office. And I think people say,
well, why did he do it. And I say, you
have to understand, this is a man who
really has lived his life surrounded by women. He had a mother, single mom who
worked so hard to provide for both the President
and for his sister, and she had to travel away from
home and leave him for years literally with his grandparents
as she pursued her career. She struggled during
a part of her life, she was dependent
on food stamps. And so he saw firsthand
how she struggled. And then he watched his
grandmother who worked for a bank and was an
officer at a bank, but she trained men
year after year who then leapfrogged above her. And so I think growing up with
those role models gave him a sense of appreciation
for the plight of women. And then being married to this
very dynamic and strong and smart wife who also struggled
with work/life balance and trying to make sure that they
were raising their daughters to be healthy and to grow up in a
world where they could compete on an even playing field, I
think that life experience really prepared him for an
appreciation of what he could do as President to improve
the quality of lives of women and girls. And so the council was
created for the first time representative of —
representing every aspect of our administration,
every department, every agency has someone
who sits on our council. And our goal is simply that,
to figure out how through our policies and our programs and
legislation that we can move forward the quality of
lives for women and girls. And not only that, we
have a really good time. And it’s so nice to see people
from across the administration coming together and really
looking at issues from the perspective of the people we
serve as opposed to just from the federal government. And we are looking at how we
can collaboratively across the administration tackle issues
that are so important to women and girls. And so it’s been a
terrific three years, and we’re always looking
at new ways of expanding the work of the council. And one of the ways that we
do that is through engagement. And so we’re delighted to
have you here with us today, we look forward to hearing your
ideas and sharing best practices among ourselves and to figure
out what else we can do within the space of the environment
that just makes our environment better, and so when all of
your girls and boys grow up, it’s in a better world. And it’s about as
simple as that. So with that, I’m going to
introduce to you my partner in this effort, Tina, who I
have known, I don’t know, 20 — Tina Tchen:
Long enough. (laughter) Valerie Jarrett:
Yeah, when it starts
to get upwards of 20, you know what it’s like,
I don’t want to admit. Everybody always jokes about
the President’s gray hair, my gray hair is not that funny. And I feel like when I met Tina,
I had no gray hair whatsoever, so certainly we are aging
gracefully in place. But it has really been
such a thrill to have Tina, we both left Chicago, we both
took this leap of faith to join the administration. It has been such a privilege
to serve this President and the First Lady, and to have people
like the Administrator Jackson and Tina joining in this
effort just makes every day a pinch me day. So with that, I would like
to turn it over to Tina for a few remarks. (applause) Tina Tchen:
Thank you, Valerie. And welcome to the White House. And we want to really
especially welcome, you know, Administrator Jackson and Diane
Thompson who have been just so terrific at the EPA. They are both, you know, great
role models I think for women and, you know, all people
across the country. But they especially, you know,
live every day at the EPA. What we’ve been trying to do
through the council on women and girls, and that’s to carry out
the President’s directive to all of the federal agencies, which
is to say everything that every part of the federal government
does touches the lives of women and girls in some way, whether
it’s people who work at the agencies and/or
whether, you know, especially in the
topic of the day today, in how the policies and
the programs of the EPA affect women and girls
throughout the country, and really around
the world as well. So the EPA has really just been
champions at doing that from day one in the administration, and
we are so grateful for their leadership and partnership
in this effort. (applause) Yep, absolutely. (applause) But we really cannot do it, one
of the things we’ve learned in the last three years,
is how, you know, really small the White House is. As big a footprint as
it casts, you know, as we get our message out and as
big as the megaphone might be, the physical space is
really pretty small, and the amount of people that
we have here to do this work is really small. One of the people, I wanted to
make sure she was up here at the front, but I want
to acknowledge, who really put today together
from the White House end is Hallie Schneir, and
Hallie directs our — (applause) Hallie is the director of Women
and Girls Outreach here in our Office of Public Engagement. So she’s really the glue that
connects us to all of you, because we cannot do the
work that we have here, both the policy work,
the program work, and importantly the work of
making sure that people across the country know and understand
these issues and know and understand how the
administration is working to improve the environment for
all people across the country without all of you, without all
of you actively participating and carrying that
message across, because we really don’t
have arms and legs across the country. You are our arms and legs. I also want to give you
greetings from my boss, the First Lady. You are here on a terrific day
for us, one of our very, very, very special days in the White
House, it’s garden planting day. (laughter) So this afternoon, this
afternoon the First Lady will be out on the South Lawn
with about 35 children from across the country this time,
for the first time this year, in addition to two kids from
the Bancroft and Tubman Middle Schools here in D.C. We actually went through
and combed our letters, and we get these
amazing letters, cards and letters from moms and
kids all the time and to the First Lady talking about how
the Let’s Move! initiative to end childhood obesity in a
generation has really changed their lives in big ways
and small, from, you know, moms who write us about kids
who have all of a sudden changed their lives and dropped the
weight and gone — you know, are active in sports and
activities and their self-esteem has gone up, to the kids
who will be with us today. And we have kids from a Girl
Scout troop from Upstate New York that’s been growing plants
to sort of give to disadvantaged seniors, you know, so they can
have a tomato plant themselves, to kids who are building school
gardens in schools in Iowa, North Carolina and Pennsylvania,
all of whom wrote in about the amazing changes that they’re
making within the school rooms. And that’s just one way in which
we are trying to, you know, get across to kids how they
can affect their environment, be involved in
their environment, get their hands dirty. I know the administrator
does this with teaching gardens as well. And there’s a whole garden
movement that really has taken force to learn the many things
that kids can to connect not just to the food that they
eat and better living, but also to their
environment as a whole. So we will be out
there doing that. And it is great to start
the day here with you, and then I’ll be out there in
my jeans and T-shirts in the afternoon getting my hands dirty
with the kids and carrying that message across. So thank you again for coming. I know it is a sacrifice for all
of you to take the time to come here to — many of you traveled,
we are very grateful for what you do every day, the work
that you’ll do here today, and, again, for the work at the EPA. Thank you so much. Thanks. Have a great day! (applause) Speaker:
Well, thanks, everybody, so much. A couple of other quick
housekeeping announcements. We have you kind of squished
in here like sardines, please don’t feel like you need
to stay like this the whole day, you have a lot of work to do,
so if you need to spread out and make yourself comfortable,
please feel free to do that. But without further ado, I
feel extremely lucky to get to introduce the absolute stars of
the day and so excited to make the time to be here with
us, Administrator Jackson, if you wouldn’t
mind coming on up. (applause) Administrator Lisa Jackson:
Oh, my goodness, sit down. Thanks. Thank you, thank you. Thank you, thank you,
that’s very nice. We got work to do,
let’s have fun. You look beautiful. You look very special. This is a special day. I cannot you tell you how happy
I am to see us here today on this very important day. I didn’t even know it
was garden planting day, but just goes to show you,
sometimes the stars align and fate is on our side. I need to start, of course, by
thanking our first two speakers to take the time with all
that’s going on, and believe me, there’s always more
going on than their composure would indicate. But for Valerie and Tina to
be here to welcome you means a lot as well. They’re also welcoming you on a
day where the headline is that 57% of Americans think that
this administration is doing the right things on
the environment, so. (applause) And before I get started with
my short, I promise, remarks, I just want to acknowledge what
we call within our building four blocks away the SHE-PA. SHE-PA stand up. Turn around and say hello. (applause) Yeah, and they’re
around the room as well, the ones who were too nervous
to stand up because they’re worrying about how the day goes. So it’s my job to welcome
you here this morning. I just want to say a few words
about where I think we’ve been, about how important
environmental protection is, but how critically important
women are in terms of where we’ve been and
where we’re going. And, of course, preach to the
choir a little bit about why these issues are so important. Of course, the reason you preach
to the choir is that the choir needs to go out and sing,
so there is a method to our madness, especially now. Now, we know that the impact
that women have had on environmental issues is — did
not start with me or actually any of the women of EPA
going back to our first female leadership. In fact, it started
back, you know, maybe as early as
the 1930’s or before. You know, the recorded history
of women and environmental issues maybe started in the last
century with someone like maybe Rosalie Edge who talked about
conservationism and conservation at a time when that
term wasn’t accepted, and she challenged the
established notions of what environmental
conservation should be. There’s all kinds of
names that came after. And if you name anyone,
you risk offending all, but I can’t help but think of
Marjorie Stoneman Douglas or Rachel Carson when I think about
women who have taken slings and arrows and stood up to
protect our environment, to be the voice for
our environment. EPA has had six women who held
its highest office over the course of our now
41-year history. And today, more and
more of our employees, more and more of our managers,
certainly our scientists, certainly our
leadership are women, including the wonderful
Stephanie Owens who hates it when I do this, but deserves so
much credit for insisting that we be here today. Thank you. (applause) We also have broad support from
women who advocate on behalf, not of EPA, whenever people say
how can I help EPA, I say don’t, help health and the environment,
help clean air, clean water, clean land, women
groups like moms rising, groups like mocha moms
who have stood up, especially in this year because
they’re concerned about their health and the health
of our children. And they’ve been instrumental
in our progress over these last few years. It’s been my honor to be a
part of the history of women’s leadership in environmental
health and protection and to do my small part in trying
to move these issues forward. Now, one of the reasons that
it’s so important for us to be here is that women’s
environmental issues are really women’s health issues. You know, chronic health
conditions have been linked to air pollution. That link is strong, it’s
not speculative, it is real. So when you think about things
like high blood pressure, COPD, of course asthma, they are more
common in women over age 50 than in men over age 50. Women are frequent sufferers of
heart attack and cardiovascular disease, which is another
deadly medical issue linked to pollution in our environment. It’s something that affects
one of every two women, and cardiovascular disease
is the most frequent cause of death of women. And of course, as we all
know, women’s health is really indistinguishable from
children’s health when it comes to chemicals in our environment,
which can be passed down in the womb and can expose our
children at a very early age. In the last three years, we have
counted on American women and mothers to help us
defend ourselves, yes, but really more importantly
to tackle proactively the environmental issues and
to be a voice that speaks up for the environmental
issues most important to you and to Americans. At the end of last year, EPA
finalized the Mercury and Air Toxic Standards that limits
mercury and arsenic, cadmium, acid gases, soot and
small forming chemicals from power plants. Mercury is a neurotoxin,
it threatens the health of our children. And before the MAT standards
were put in place last year, somewhat unbelievably there was
no national standard in this country for how much mercury
a power plant could emit. In the year 2011,
unlimited amounts of mercury could be emitted. Some states had taken
leadership on the issue, but far too many had not. What’s even more incredible
is that that wasn’t for lack of trying. You see, the Clean Air Act
called for these mercury and air toxic standards in 1990. With the backing of community
groups and moms’ groups and religious groups and doctors and
environmental groups and others, we were able to get the MAT
standards done last year. It’s a major victory
for our health. Once the MAT standards
are fully implemented, they will prevent 11,000
premature deaths a year, and 130,000 asthma cases
and attacks per year. I always think
about those numbers, but when I’m in
a room like this, I feel confident knowing that
I don’t have to explain that behind numbers are people. Behind those statistics are a
mom who might be able to rest just a little bit easier knowing
that her government is doing what it can and should to
protect her child from exposure to a dangerous
neurotoxin like mercury, or young people who want
to go outside and move, but need to know that their
government and their parents know that their government is
out protecting the air that their children
will be breathing. MATS is just one item on a list
that includes cleaner power plants, because we’re setting
standards to require them to clean up their emissions. Cleaner cars, because we’ve set
standards to make cars more fuel efficient, and when
you burn less fuel, you create less
carbon pollution. Healthier waters, water is still
the number one environmental issue for so many Americans. And better safeguard, so much
work left to be done in terms of chemicals in our products,
in our environment. MATS is also one of the things
that EPA has done that some people and special interests are
actively trying to do away with. I wish I could tell you it was
the only thing we’ve done that’s under attack. But once again, we’re counting
on women to help us carry the message forward that this
is not going to fall, that this must not fall. We know that if they take
away these health protections, that they’re taking away vital
protections for women’s health. If they make it easier for
big polluters to pollute, then they make it harder for
women and mothers and their children to lead
healthier lives. Ladies, the truth is,
environmental protection does not happen by accident. Health safeguards, especially
these days, are not a given. It takes vigilance, it takes
hard work to ensure that those things are protected and passed
down to future generations. The same is true of every
advance that women have made in our history, it took action,
it took bold action to achieve fundamental things
like the right to vote, assurances of equal
pay for equal work, and it will take more than
a few taps to break all the glass ceilings that remain. The quality we’ve sought
and continue to seek is not something that
happens by accident. We have to ensure it. Now, another important part
of our success has been the leadership of President Obama. I’m proud to serve a President
who said that we can’t wait on environmental and
public health issues. I’m proud to serve a President
who knows that EPA and what — the work that we do is vital
to the American people, and who said that the choice
between our economy and our environment is a false choice. And I know I can feel extra
confident in our President, because he’s done a little
bit of insurance making, you see he surrounded
himself by smart women, brilliant women in
the White House, and many of them you’ve heard
from and you will be hearing from from EPA. So with that, I’m going to
stop speaking and let us all get started. Once again, thank you
very much for being here, thank you for
lending your voice, thank you for all the follow-up
that’s going to happen. I’ll see you again
in a little bit. And welcome. (applause) Diane Thompson:
See why we think it’s so
neat to have her as a boss. Thank you,
Administrator Jackson. I’m now pleased to welcome
another of the women leaders in the White House,
Heather Zychal. She is the deputy assistant
to the President for energy and climate change. Prior to joining the Obama
for President campaign and the administration, Ms. Zychal was
legislative director for Senator John Kerry. She also served as legislative
director for Congressman Frank Pallone and
Congressman Rush Holt. She grew up in Iowa and is a
graduate of Rutgers University, and we are so very glad to have
her strong and powerful and effective voice in the White
House fighting for the issues that we work so hard on. Heather. (applause) Heather Zychal:
Thank you. It’s not very often on a Monday
morning I get to start the day off with such an
exciting group of people, so thank you all for
being here today. I see many friendly
faces in the audience, and obviously you’ve heard from
some of the most amazing women in the Obama administration,
and for me personally, it’s such an honor to be
able to be part of this team, whether it’s what we’re doing
to bring health care to more American families or what we’re
doing to clean up the air and water, we have a tremendous
legacy as an Obama administration, and we’re so
excited about the potential — the potential opportunities
in the future. I thought I’d tell you a
little bit about who I am and how I got here. I actually had a start
on a farm in rural Iowa. Yes, I’m probably one of the few
Obama administration officials that knows how to milk a cow. But — but it’s served me well. Starting in my very — (laughter) Okay, maybe that wasn’t the
right pivot point, but — (laughter) But I started — I grew
up in rural America, and my grandfather
was a dairy farmer, and from a very young age,
I learned the importance of, you know, a land ethic and
protection of public health and the environment. My mother was a nurse who spent
every day trying to find new connections between
environmental health and — between the environment
and health protection. And so from a very young age, I
was instilled with the virtues that bring me here today. I found myself deciding at a
very young age that I wanted to work on environmental policy
and environmental science. And at the time, I’m
embarrassed to say, there were not a lot of
universities that even offered such a program, and
one of them happened to be at Rutgers University. So — yes, so I — we’ve all got
a funny New Jersey connection. So I ended up finding my way to
Rutgers University and working on environmental —
environmental policy, which was tremendous. And as I was there at school, I
sort of quickly learned that the connection between fighting for
public health and where that crosses with the important
people that are in office at the state level but also
at the federal level, and had the great opportunity to
work on a campaign for a little known Congressman that nobody
ever thought was going to get elected, he was Rush Holt. So — everybody loves Rush Holt. I mean, with the bumper
sticker like, yes, my Congressman really
is a rocket scientist, you can’t really go wrong. So I was lucky enough to come to
Washington with him and work as his environmental assistant,
was serving the New Jersey delegation for a while, and
then moved north to serve the Massachusetts delegation, and
then had the great opportunity with John Kerry to work
on his presidential race, which didn’t quite end
the way we wanted it to, but I got — I got — I had some
good practice for round two. And then served for President
Obama on his campaign working on energy and
environmental policies. And I’m really pleased to say
standing here today that all of the things that the President
fought for as a candidate, whether it was, you know,
tackling climate change, reducing air pollution,
transitioning to a clean energy economy, we’ve been
able to accomplish, you know, where we didn’t get
— we didn’t get 100%, but we got 99.9%
of the way there. And we have so many firsts
as an administration. If you would have told me coming
into office that after three decades of inaction
on car standards, increasing the efficiency
of our cars and trucks, that we would have been
able to do it with the UAW, the environmental community,
Democrats, Republicans, and all the major auto
manufacturers standing behind us to support historic
increases in cafe standards, I wouldn’t have believed
you, but we did it. And that was — that was only
one of many, many firsts. And because of Administrators
Jackson — Administrator Jackson’s leadership, we now
have the first ever mercury standard on coal-fired power
plants that’s protecting public health and, you know, allowing
all of us to take our kids and little brothers and sisters
fishing and not have to worry about fish consumption
advisories. And, you know, it
doesn’t end there. We’ve had historic
investments in clean energy. In just the first three
years of our administration, we’ve been able to double the
generation of renewable power. That’s wind, solar
and geothermal. We’ve doubled down on
research and development, and now we have some of the
most efficient batteries in the world. And we’re exporting our
technologies to countries like China and India, and we’re
creating the jobs here at home. So across the board, we’re
really excited about what we’ve been able to achieve and know
that we have many more victories ahead of us. One thing — I want to spend
just a few minutes talking about the President’s energy
policies, we’re at large, something that you can’t really
pick up a newspaper today and not see, so you’ve heard from
the President directly and he’s certainly a far better
messenger than I am, but has been — he just wrapped
up a two-day tour all across the country, I’m sure many of
you saw that press coverage, but talking about his all of
the above energy approach. And, you know, we realize
that in the near term, ongoing responsible domestic oil
and gas production is important, and despite what many on
the other side are saying, oil and gas production has
increased every year that this President has been in office,
but we’re doing it now with the most aggressive
environmental and safety standards in the world. The second thing the President
always talks about is alternatives, we know
we need alternatives, whether that’s clean, you know,
wind turbines and solar panels or some of the alternatives to
oil that we can run our cars and trucks on, including
advanced biofuels. We now in this country have
four advanced bio refineries. When we came into
office, we had none. And, you know, hopefully some
day these are going to be the fuels that run our trucks,
our cars and our airplanes. And then the last key issue that
the President always talks about is energy efficiency, the
fastest cheapest way to address our energy challenges
through efficiency. And we have made
historic progress, both in the built
environment and, again, based on Administrator
Jackson’s leadership in our cars and trucks. And we’re very excited, this
spring we hit a landmark moment in that we weatherized
a million homes, these are low-income
homes, bringing solutions, whether it’s a more efficient
refrigerator or better insulation, they’re saving
families on the average of $400 a year. And behind all that, whether
it’s the installation or the manufacturing of those
more efficient windows and appliances, those
are a lot of jobs. And, you know, jobs that are
here that can’t be exported and something that, again,
we are very excited about. But it’s not just what we’re
doing in the built environment, as I said earlier, the historic
standards for cars and trucks are saving consumers money,
and those cars and trucks are rolling off the
assembly line today. And we didn’t stop there,
we thought, well, hey, heavy-duty trucks have never
been — have never had a standard for fuel efficiency, so
based on our conversations with industry, we were able to,
for the first time ever, have an efficiency
standard there. So all these things are helping
reduce our dependence on oil, and ultimately, you know,
the price at the pump, everybody is frustrated when
you pull up to the pump and fill your car and you see the
number — the price tag going up and up. Unfortunately, if there
was some silver bullet, we would have used it. But there is not. So what the President is very
much focused on is a long-term strategy that allows us to
reduce our dependence on oil. The less we are reliant on oil,
the more we are protecting our economy from the whims
of the global oil market. So those are the things we are
focused on and those are the things we know are important. And like so many of our policies
we see them as a win/win. A win for the economy, a
win for the environment, and a win for the
administration frankly. So we are, we are
doing great work. And we really appreciate all of
the support that everybody in this room has provided. And without the women in this
administration we wouldn’t have been able to accomplish
all of those things. So thank you for your
time and your dedication. And I hope you enjoy the
rest of your morning. (applause) Diane Thompson:
Thank you, Heather. That was great. Now, everybody needs to take a
moment and squirm a little bit and move your chairs apart. And if you need to
stand up and stretch, this is the time as
we go into transition. We have wonderful leaders at EPA
and we are particularly pleased to have so many of our women
leadership here to talk with you about the work that
they have been doing. And I have the honor
of introducing them. I have been told that if I
go through their credentials, we’ll be here all morning. So I am not going to be able to
do that even though I usually like to break the rules. I will find some
other rule to break. So these folks will share their
stories about their work and impact on everyday
people and places. And we’ll get on with
the business of the day. Moderating both panels will be
Bicky Corman who is our Deputy Associate Administrator
For Policy. And we will go to the
first panel which will include Nancy Stoner. Nancy, come on up. Nancy is the Acting
Assistant Administrator for the Office Of Water. Cynthia Giles is the Assistant
Administrator for the Office of Enforcement and
Compliance Assurance. Michelle DePass, the Associate
Administrator for the Office of The International
and Tribal Affairs. And Judith Enck,
Regional Administrator for EPA Region Two. This will be our first panel. Bicky? Bicky Corman:
I have to lower it some. Thank you very much. It is, it is
tremendous to be here. It is wonderful to see all of
these females in the audience. Thank you. I will just say quickly this
morning on my way into the building, I have come
here quite a bit of time. I have had to show
my credentials. I have often gotten stuck,
trudged up the long stairs. Couldn’t find the elevator. But this morning on the way up,
I was walking behind a woman whose heels were
higher than mine. And so she was a little slower. But I caught up with her just
as we got to the front door. And this has never
happened to me before. The front doors just opened. And I thought, we
have come a long way. (laughter) It was really amazing. It is a good day for
this to be happening. I also want to note, I
was born in New Jersey, so I do have a little bit
of New Jersey connection. I am very honored to be able
to bring these panelists to you all, who we are hoping will
tell you something about their experiences with the environment
and we hope with an emphasis on focusing on issue about how
this might bare on women, equal protection, and the like. First is Nancy Stoner who I see
has 25 years of environmental experience which I guess
means she is younger than me. I just learned that. A few weeks ago it was reported
in one of our senior staff meetings that Nancy was out
in the hinterlands and she was described by a local
paper as EPA’s water lady. And I think that gives you the
range of experience and how Nancy is actually reaching out
and talking to people about the importance of water
quality and quantity. Please go ahead, Nancy. Nancy Stoner:
Okay. All right. So I first I just want to say
what an honor it is to be here today with all of you. And, and to thank you for
everything that you are doing every day. In general, but specifically, on
protecting water resources which is, which is my thing,
and they asked us to talk for five minutes. I don’t know how many
of you ever tried to talk for five minutes. It is really hard. It is much easier to talk for
thirty minutes than it is to talk for five minutes. But what I wanted to do was
just touch on a couple of the things that we are doing
that are a part of the administrator’s priorities. So the three priorities that
I am going to talk about are cleaning up our communities,
protecting America’s waters, and working for
environmental justice. And the things that I am going
to talk about effect all of those, implement all of those. And, and I think I am going
to be in a break out with a bunch of you later. So I will get to hear more
from you at that time. So, so one of them is the Urban
Waters Federal Partnership. And this is actually
something that the Administrator created herself. And so I got to join it after
it was already underway. And it involves twelve
federal agencies, and the thing that I like about
it the most is that it is really focused on what communities want
to do to protect their waters as part of their vision, for what
their communities should be. And so it really isn’t an EPA
program directed at telling people to do something. It is an EPA program
to meet people, to help figure out how to bring
all of the federal agencies together to help them do what
their community wants to do. And so that is one of the
ones that I wanted to mention. We are right now working
with seven communities. Obviously, we would like
to work with a lot more. But that is where we are at this
point on that and that is one of the things that I
put on my short list. A second one that I
put on my short list was mountaintop mining. So that is an area that, that we
have been working very hard with again a number of
federal agencies. Including the Army Core of
Engineers to protect the health of Appalachian families and
protect the environment and particularly protect
streams in Appalachia. And we feel like we are making
a lot of progress in terms of protecting particular streams,
but most important protecting the way mining is done. So that people don’t need
to choose between jobs and the environment. Mining can be done in a
way that protects streams. And that is really our
focus on how to do that. We are working with
the mining companies, with the Army Core of Engineers,
with the communities there to help figure out how
it can be done and, and we are making I think big
changes that we’ll be seeing over time in the
mining industry. The third I wanted to
mention was advancing green infrastructure. And I know that a lot
of you in this room, because I know a number of
you in this room are experts in green infrastructure. But for those of you who
don’t know what it is, it has to do with protecting
natural landscapes and also engineering landscapes to
mimic natural functions. And, and one of the
things I like about it, even though of course water is
the most important as everyone knows, is that it is
not just about water. It is actually about everything. It is about cleaning the
air, it is about addressing climate change. It is about enhancing
communities and property values. It is about all of those things. And similar to the urban
waters that I started with, what we are doing is partnering
with communities who want to bring green infrastructure
into their communities. Cynthia and I are working
together on an effort to help communities prioritize their
investments and using green infrastructure is a big piece
of what they will do to address sewer overflow, storm
water pollution, and other things that
impair their waterways. But also can be addressed
through these techniques that bring so many other
values to their community. And then the last thing
I wanted to mention, I probably have already
gone over my five minutes, is the Mexico Border Program. And I wanted to mention it in
particular because I think that some people don’t understand
what the program is. And what we are doing. And, and so I want to make
sure that you can explain to people what it is. It is not a foreign aid program. This is actually addressing
issues on the border that effect Americans. Every dollar that we expand in
the Mexico Border Program has to benefit Americans. But what it does is it brings
water and waste water services to people on both sides of
the border and Mexico also puts in funding. Often they have never had
those services before. And, and so over the years,
and it has been since 1997, the program has provided 571
million to 97 projects that benefit nearly 8.5
million border residents. And as I said, it
leverages other funding. And it is improved public
health by providing nearly 55,000 homes with safe
drinking water and more than 500,000 homes with waste
water services reducing the risk of water born illnesses. So I am going to stop right
there and I look forward to talking to many of
you in the break. Bicky Corman:
Thanks, Nancy. And as a long time resident now
of the District of Columbia, we are very pleased that the
Anacostia River is one of those that is being profiled in this
Urban Waters Initiative and we are very glad of
the partnership. Now, introducing Cynthia
Giles who is our Assistant Administrator for
Foreign Enforcement. Cynthia has 30 years of
experience in the environmental arena as the Assistant
Administrator for Office of Enforcement, she is
EPA’s top cop on the job. And even though
shorter than even me — (laughter) — she is mean. And we are very proud to say
that through Cynthia, tough, tough, tough, tough and fair,
that through Cynthia’s efforts last year, we got $19 billion
investment in pollution control as a result of
Cynthia’s efforts. That is a really great effort. (applause) Cynthia Giles:
Thank you. I am not usually introduced
as a person who is mean. (laughter) But I, I am privileged to
head up the Office of EPA that enforces the existing standards
that protect health and protect the environment on which
healthy communities depend. We work with states to take
action to get clean air and clean water. And also to make sure
that everybody plays by the same rules. So one of the ways we do
this is by bringing cases. We bring cases to ensure
compliance with the laws from the largest, like the large
power plants that have pollution that effects millions of people
to smaller cases that protect local communities, like making
sure that the drinking water systems are complying
with the health standards. When necessary, we also bring
criminal cases as we did with the waste water treatment plant
operator who didn’t see fit to operate his treatment plant as
a result of which raw sewage was backing up into people’s homes. And when they complained,
he cut off their water. And as we did in the case of a
pesticide operator who failed to follow the requirements for use
of these pesticides as a result of which two young girls
died unfortunately. We also do our work by taking
advantage of the advances in monitoring and information
technologies like requiring companies to install fence line
monitoring so that they can — so the neighborhoods and
communities that host these facilities can know what the
pollution problems are that effect them and take action
to protect their families and their communities. And by doing this, we are
ceasing on the power of public accountability to have these
facilities compliance approved. People in environmental
organizations and responsible companies and in community
groups like the people in this room, have been key partners
for us in doing this work. Partners by letting us know
about violations so that we can take action on them. By working side by side
with us in litigation. And letting us know what it
is their communities need. And also by speaking up about
the importance of clean air and clean water and
protecting their families. We also increasingly have seen
people post things on Youtube so we encourage that. We found out some very cool
things on Youtube that have resulted in cases. I met last week with a
representative from the Steel Workers Union. We got together to talk about
how EPA has worked to protect clean air and clean water
is creating green jobs. And she told me about the
Women’s Caucus that they have created in her union which
they have named Women of Steel. Which I love that name. (laughter) Bicky Corman:
Tough but fair. Cynthia Giles:
What it, what it reminds me of
is the importance of being tough and persistent in the
important and challenging work that we have to make
our communities healthier places to live. So I, I thank you all for the
inspiring work that you do. And for being tough
and persistent. And to remind you if you know
about a violation, EPA.gov/tips. Let us know. (laughter and applause) Bicky Corman:
Thank you, Cynthia. It is now my pleasure to
introduce Michelle DePass who is our Assistant Administrator
for the Office of International and Tribal Affairs. Michelle is a — well, she is
younger I think than most of us. She is a mere child, but she
is a long standing community activist and she in fact started
her career promoting seat belts. And I dare say that in
her position in the, in the International Office,
she is fastening a seat belt around the world. And we say thank you, Michelle. Michelle DePass:
Thank you, Bicky. That is good. I am going to use that. (laughter) Bicky Corman:
Better than mean. Michelle DePass:
So my New Jersey connection
was that I used to work at New Jersey Department of
Environmental Protections. But you know, thank you for
giving me the opportunity to be able to spend the
morning with you, because I get tremendous
energy from women. It is the, it is the
work that I started in. I am working on asthma and
issues in South Bronx and Harlem, and it was the women
whose children were suffering that really gave me my energy to
get up every morning and to you know continue my
education in this work. And so I find myself very
fortunate to be working with this incredible
group of colleagues, working for you women in the
audience and also working for Lisa P. Jackson. So as I was introduced, I am
the Assistant Administrator for International
and Tribal Affairs. It means a lot more
than I travel a lot. What it means is that I am
responsible for the work of the agency in working with
564 sovereign nations that are within our borders are
Native American tribes. But also the work that I am
going to talk to you about today very briefly in about four
more minutes working with, working in six out of the seven
continents and in 84 countries. So you probably don’t have a lot
of opportunity to actually hear about EPA’s international work. We are a domestic
regulatory agency. However, we have had a long
history of international collaboration on a wide range
of global environmental issues. But in recent years,
in this administration, under the leadership of
Administrator Jackson, we have given our bilateral
and multi-lateral partnerships increased significance
particularly on environmental protection in children and
global government, governance. It is our vision that our
work that we do is lead by our domestic policy. But in the international
arena, we can work on enhancing national security, increasing
opportunities for trade promotion, engaging of course in
the global climate change arena, and enhancing our
diplomatic work. So I wanted to talk about,
just three very quick areas that we work in. But there are many more and I
hope to engage with you in our breakout areas. And, you know, we recognize
that air and water travels. So we focus a lot of our
work on key trans boundary pollution issues. First, you heard Administrator
Jackson talk about Mercury and the MATS Rule. We had the opportunity to
be able to take our work on Mercury internationally. It was under this administration
that we joined the global community in working
towards a Mercury, International Mercury Treaty,
which we believe will be wrapped up in 2013 after
some very intense and wonderful negotiations. And mercury is a prominent
example about how we work in the multi-lateral arena, but
we also work in the bilateral arena in partnerships towards
emerging global challenges. Over the past three years we
have been working with Brazil, and Peru, working on the ground
to actually work on artisanal small scale gold mining. Small gold shops can emit up to
16 percent of an emissions of one coal fire, coal fire
power plant in the US. A very small gold shop. We know that there are
approximately ten million miners and shop keepers that
work in the small scale gold mining industry. Many of them, most
of them are women. And many of them that are
exposed whether they are mining, or they are living near these
gold shops are children. So we have partnered to actually
come up with a solution to this. They are called Mercury Hoods
and we have worked with labs to be able to deploy them in some
communities around the world and we are looking to really scale
up this initiative with the global community so that we can
protect women and children and have a direct impact on
these communities world wide. Nancy spoke about the Mexico,
the US Mexico Border Program and it deserves a second mention. It is actually an incredible
program that we have been working on since we signed
the La Paz Agreement in 1983. So this also is not a
new initiative that we have been working on. But again has taken
increased significance under this administration. We will be launching
the Border 2020 Program, because Border 2012, it is 2012. And we have wrapped up 24 out
of 25 goals have already been completed, and we’ll be
completing the last one before our launch of the
Border 2020 in August. Nancy spoke about the
incredible water and waste water infrastructure commitments
under the Border Program. We also work to reduce air
pollution from vehicles and increase energy efficiency. We are bettering waste
management by increasing capacity for sustainable
materials management. I don’t know if any of you have
ever visited border communities, but one of the distinct
characterizations of a border community, you often see
many, many tires, stacked up. This is a problem that brings
disease to communities and usually ends up
impacting children first. So we have removed millions
of tires from the border. And we have been working on
joint emergency preparedness and expanding chemical
safety practices. Since many of us are moms or we
have younger brothers or younger sisters get on school buses,
idling is one of the most important issues that we
work on in communities. So through the Border Program,
we have been working on something called the Texas
Clean School Bus Program. And this program has resulted
in retro fitting school buses in 14 district that is
we share with Mexico. So we have retro fitted over
400 school buses and this has increased in — this has
increased the opportunity for young children to not get
exposed to these toxic emissions and it has been a real success. That is just one of the 25
successes I can tell you of this past year’s border, this
past few years border program. Stay tuned for the Border
2020 Program that will be launched in August. The final thing I want to talk
about in my remaining minute is trade and the economy. You know, we work on local
prosperity and environmental health issues at EPA. But we know right now growing
our economy is our major, major concern in
this administration. So at EPA, we work actively
to be able to work on that. To promote that. We write the environmental
clauses and requirement that go into trade agreements. So we are not only maintaining
our social responsibility here, but we can also know that we are
resting assured that our goods and services that transport
across borders are safe for our families’ daily use. Aside from that responsibility,
we also work on environmental capacity building underneath
our trade agreements such as NAFTA and CAFTA-DR. For example, due to an EPA
collaboration with all of the CAFTA-DR countries, that
is Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa
Rica and the Dominican Republic, they have received environmental
assessment training and have been provided with our
NEPA assist technology. And this has resulted in,
increased in the improvement and efficiency of assessment
processes which again helps protect the trade between our
borders and the goods that we use everyday. So I could talk a lot more about
the international side of the work that incredible, dedicated
staff that I have that I work with everyday. But I look forward to
interacting with you in the course of the breakout and of
course if you want to talk about tribal issues, I would be
happy to do that as well. Thank you. (applause) Bicky Corman:
Thank you, Michelle. And the last person on the, the
last but not least person on the panel is Judith Enck who is a
Regional Administrator for EPA’s Region Two Office which heads
up New York, Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, and New Jersey. And most recently or at least
you know one of the things that Judith has accomplished recently
that I think was tremendously important was the settlement to
resolution of an issue of PCB’s in schools in lighting
fixtures in Manhattan. And the resolution of that was
to remove the PCB’s and replace the lighting fixtures with
energy efficient lighting which will save the schools
money over time. So there is more money available
for children’s education, but also importantly such a
large amount of the population children as well as faculty as
well as maintenance, et cetera, spend such a large part
of their day in schools. So if you want to have an
impact on human health that is, that is a pretty
good way to get it. So go ahead, Judith please. Judith Enck:
Great. Thanks, Bicky. Good morning everyone. So I have got the best region. (laughter) Not just because of New Jersey. (laughter) And also eight Indian
nations in New York. And it is really a
privilege to be with you. And there are countless,
countless examples of women providing leadership
across the country. Bicky mentioned
PCB’s in schools. We are working with women
in Puerto Rico to establish recycling programs. Women in New Jersey to
clean up the Passaic River. And create jobs as
part of that clean up. But I want to spend my few
minutes telling you a story. It is an air toxic story. You are probably not used to
telling your kids when they go to sleep, listen, honey, I have
got a story about air toxics. So I am going to tell you an
air toxics story involving Tonawanda, New York, which is a
small town just north of Buffalo where there has been a really
serious host of environmental issues involving a
company called Tonawanda Coke Corporation. It is a petroleum Coke plant. There are only four of
them left in the country. And it is a very old
polluting industrial process. I won’t go into
a lot of details, but imagine a big piece
of black cauliflour, that is petroleum Coke. It is heated. The volatiles are burned off. And then the end product which
is almost pure carbon is sent to steel companies. So this facility has been a
major source of pollution in Tonawanda, New York for decades. Not getting a lot of attention. That changed about
three or four years ago, when a group was organized
called the Western New York Clean Air Coalition. They hired a very savvy
young woman, Erin Heaney. You all know the drill. She was hired. A week later she was told there
was $400 in the bank account of the organization. And go change the world. And Erin is doing just that. She and her volunteers have
knocked on over 500 doors. You know how hard it is to
do door knocking and talk to people directly about
environmental health issues. Because it is not always
good news when you show up on someone’s door step and say,
I want to talk to you about a major source of pollution. Get to keep the door open. Have the conversation and
hear from families about their struggles with asthma,
leukemia, blood disorders. What this group has been able
to do is put a face on this local pollution problem. I have gone to Tonawanda
a number of times. I have walked through
the neighborhoods. I have the striking image of
my mind of standing there with community leaders next to a
rusty old playground seeing the stacks from this facility and
having a conversation with this amazing volunteer
with the group. Her name is Jenn. She has lived in
Tonawanda for decades. She has two kids, an 8th grader
and a son in high school. She was recently
diagnosed with leukemia. The first question her
doctor asked her was, have you worked with benzene? And she said no. But she started researching the
amount of benzene coming out of the stacks of Tonawanda Coke. We did some further
investigation and found that it was about
90-tons a year annually, every year of benzene emissions. This inspired Jenn as a
volunteer to become active in this coalition which is now
grown to a staff of four people. All women in their 20’s. These women decided to
go and collect data. They did their own air sampling. They work with a group you
might know, The Bucket Brigade. And they did their own sampling. They shared the data
with elected officials, with the media, with
regulators, and finally government took action. EPA, I am very proud to
say has filed a number of enforcement actions. We are working closely
with the State of New York in this effort. The plant manager was arrested
and is facing federal charges for violating Federal
Environmental Laws. The company to their credit has
agreed to a number of pollution reductions at their plant. And here is the take away. The result is an 86 percent
reduction in benzene, benzene emissions. Benzene a carcinogen. And remember the question
that Jenn’s doctor asked her, when he shared the horrible
news that she had leukemia. I saw Jenn about
three weeks ago. And I asked her,
how she is doing. Because I am always amazed
by these local environmental leaders who find the ability
to deal with their own health challenges, the pressures
on their family, and still speak out in
their communities on a range of issues. The good news is she says
she is feeling better. Her treatment is going okay. And I asked her, how does she
find the strength to keep going? And she points to her daughter,
and she says she does this for her, her daughter. She is very involved. In addition to working on
this one polluting facility, EPA has launched a program
called the E3 Program which is Economy, Energy
and Environment. You should look it up and
bring it to your community. We are focusing on that, because
there are 52 air pollution sources within a two mile
radius in this community. And while we have put a lot of
time and energy into this one polluting facility, it is not
realistic that we are going to tackle all 52 air
permits in this same way. So we have invited industry
to come to the table. We have a sustainability
coalition that includes the Chamber Of Commerce,
local businesses, the local government, state
government, community leaders. We all have come together with
the singular goal of improving air quality and reducing
water pollution in Tonawanda. So when I, when I hear of these
stories, I am just so inspired. And for Jenn, for her daughter,
for our daughters and our sons, we absolutely have
to get this right. And that is why having
this strong EPA presence, where federal EPA does really
strong environmental standards thanks to Gina McCarthy
and Gina, and Nancy, and Michelle and others, and the
— at the regional level we get to enforce those standards
and we listen to communities. We can’t do everything
that we are asked to do. And I am reminded of the old
saying, you can’t do everything, but everyone can do something. And that is what we were
able to do in Tonawanda. Thank you. (applause) Bicky Corman:
Thanks very much all of you. Thank you. I think I am just going to
throw a couple of questions at each of you. Nancy, can you tell folks about
what you are doing with beaches? Because I think that is a really
important factor that we don’t necessarily think about
in traditional EPA enforcement work. I know it is important
to you in your office. Nancy Stoner:
Sure. So what we have been
working on is updating the Science, for the
beach standards. So those are standards that
protect people who are swimming from getting usually
gastroenteritis, which is of course a fun
thing to talk about in public. So nobody wants to get that. Bicky Corman:
You can talk about
factory farms. Nancy Stoner:
Yes. Yes, all of
my issues are sexy. And so what we have been doing
is we have been doing a series of epidemiological studies
to figure out what level of pollution makes people
sick, and we are working on updating those standards. And we have a proposal out now. And A number of you
have commented on it. And we are looking closely at
that and we’ll be finalizing those standards by the end of
the year to provide a better public health
protection at beaches. Bicky Corman:
And what is the impact
going to be if you are deciding if you can go
to the beach that day? Nancy Stoner:
Well, one of the things that we
have been doing is validating a rapid test method. And so what that will do is
provide quick feedback for people, so that you won’t
find out whether the beach was contaminated the day before. But whether it is
contaminated that day. Probably won’t be
used at every beach, but at beaches that are — that
have a lot of people out there, very busy beaches, we now have a
validated standard or will have a validated standard that
people can use to provide that information right away. Bicky Corman:
Thanks, Nancy. Cynthia, I think it would be
great if you could talk some about these settlements
involving green infrastructure. Because I think they are making
such an on the ground difference in communities. Cynthia Giles:
I would be happy to do that. Nancy and I are working closely
together as she mentioned in the enforcement in water, trying to
find ways that we can reduce the discharges of raw sewage into
our water ways and backups in the basement and the
contaminated storm water that runs off of our
streets and other surfaces. And what we are doing is working
with communities to find ways to use low tech, green spaces
in their own communities, that is not only improved water
quality but create green spaces that don’t exist in many of
these communities and also reduce energy consumption. So it is a, it is a triple win. And one of the things that we
are doing with these settlements is also encouraging facilities
to look at starting first in the communities that
are most effected. So in the low income communities
and places where there is substantial amounts of
abandoned properties, and to turn those blights in
the community into assets for the community and make these
places better places to live. So we are finding actually
a lot of communities very interested in this. And we are working many
cities, St. Louis, Cleveland, Kansas City, just to name a few
that we have been engaged with recently and lots
more on the way. Bicky Corman:
Thank, Cynthia. Michelle, can you talk some
about what you have been doing with the tribal community? There are certainly some
instances of them being on the front lines of increased
precipitation, et cetera. Michelle DePass:
Absolutely. Thanks
for that opportunity. As I mentioned, we at EPA work
with the 564 sovereign nations that are around the country. Obviously, between Region Nine
and Region Ten which is the west going to Alaska, there
is a concentration of about 300 of them. So we have been engaged
obviously with the tribal EPA’s, very, very intimately. We run a program called the
Indian General Assistance Program which is actually a
program that dispenses resources so that we can actually partner
with tribal communities. These are resources that
build tribal capacity. Under this Administration the
President’s budget has actually called for a $39 million
increase to the IGap funds, as we call it. You know, we’re very
familiar with acronyms in the environmental world. So the IGap funds actually are
critical to tribal communities and it enables them to set up
solid waste programs and enables them to do air monitoring, to
be able to do water monitoring. And we really partner with them
because they have jurisdiction over land and air travels, water
travels and they also have fee land and other sorts of
jurisdictional arrangements where they have lessees and
some of them are industry. So we have been really thinking
through with them environmental health and protection and also
with the increased growth in natural gas production,
oil and gas production, tribes tend to live on some of
the sunniest and the windiest and the land that has some of
the most mineral resources. So they really are a partner
with us and we’re working through those issues every day. Bicky Corman:
Thank you. And I will also see if anybody
else would like to pose a question and maybe it will
hit Judith’s “PCBs in schools” issues or maybe something
else of interest. Go ahead, please,
in the black shirt. Claire Barnett:
Thank you. Claire Barnett of the
Healthy Schools Network — Bicky Corman:
Ah! Thank you. Claire Barnett:
This is really terrific. PCBs, as everyone knows, are
legacy toxics in building materials which means they
are in many old buildings and old schools. What was interesting to me was
it started out with a pitch from a concerned parent from West
Chester County who thought it was in caulk and that was the
whole purpose right there was to start with the caulk. I wonder if you you
could take us through, walk us through a couple of
steps and why we wound up with caulk and lighting. Judith Enck:
Sure, and this is not a plant. Claire and I have worked
together for years. A concerned parent was
worried about PCBs in caulk. We are still looking
at that issue. We’re not sure that
it’s volatizing. EPA signed a legal agreement
with the City of New York to look at the presence of
PCBs in five schools. And in three schools we did
before-and-after air sampling and found that when we removed
old lighting fixtures the PCB levels in the air came way down. And it was sort of like,
remember that old cartoon — (cluck sound) — the ’80s are over and
in forgot to have children? (laughter) This was: Of course
it’s in the lighting! So I thought I could
say that in this crowd. (laughter) I say it all the time and
eventually people are getting my humor here in the
federal government. (laughter) But we all know old
lighting ballasts have PCBs. PCBs were banned
over 35 years ago. You can’t put new PCBs in new
products but you’re not legally required to remove them from old
products unless they’re leaking. So unfortunately we went into a
number of New York City schools — this is not just an
issue in New York City, it’s an issue in any old school
building that has not upgraded their lighting– and
we did wipe samples, found high levels of PCBs in one
classroom in Bushwick, Brooklyn. Two samples, over a million
parts per million of PCBs. So pure product. Basically what happens is
the lighting fixture leaks, it’s hot, the PCB
is volatilized. The good news, if there is good
news when you say the sentence “PCBs in schools,” and there
is, the good news is the fix is replacing the lighting. So it’s more energy
efficient lighting. Your lighting will become
50% more efficient if you replace it. So you save tax dollars, you
reduce exposure to PCBs and you create jobs. So there is national
guidance on the EPA website. Happy to talk to
anyone about it. And this was very much
a parent-led initiative. Bicky Corman:
That’s great. I think, do we have
time for one more or no? Should we — one more? Go ahead, please. Marsha:
My name is Marsha (inaudible). My question is to Ms. Depaz. In 1996 EPA had arranged to
assist a community in South Africa that were suffering
under the plight of the U.S. multinational native intoxide
and the community was never given relief in terms of an
investigation or an explanation as to why an investigation
did not take place. I was wondering if you could
make a comment on that as a background at issue and if EPA
intends in the future to address the issue of the native intoxide
in the small mining community in South Africa. Michelle Depaz:
Okay. Can you — of the native
— I couldn’t really hear, what is the actual chemical
you are talking about? Marsha Depaz:
The chemical is
the native intoxide. It is the alloy that goes
through steel that allows steel to expand and contract. It’s in everything that they use
in steels and 80% of the native intoxide that we use in this
country is in our steel products are used in refrigerators and
laptops come from this small community in South Africa. Michelle Depaz:
Okay. Marsha:
And of course the miners are
dying because of exposure this native intoxide. Michelle Depaz:
Okay. Well, Marsha,
thank you for bringing that to my attention. As it was in 1996 I have not —
it has not actually been raised to my level and I’m not sure
whether our office is actually working on this any more. So what I would say is that
I could follow up with you specifically on that. But generally obviously
decreasing our, decreasing exposure to toxic
chemicals is actually one of our international priorities. And we have a number of programs
that we work with through memorandums of understanding,
and memorandums of agreements with a variety of our country
partners on those issues. So I’d, you know, I’d be happy
to learn more about that and to be able to follow up, but I have
to say that’s not one of the sort of top 100 issues
that we’re working on right now that’s at the
forefront of my memory. Thank you. Bicky Corman:
Okay. Thank you, very much. We’re going to — we don’t have
any more time for questions of these folks but you will be
able to talk with them during the breakout sessions. Thanks very much to this panel. The first installment of GPA! (applause)

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