The work of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Office of Environmental Information, to protect human health and the environment, is unveiled by Open Access Government
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was formed on December 2nd, 1970 as an agency of the federal government of the U.S. During these 47 years, their concrete mission has remained the same – to protect human health and the environment. Headed as 14th administrator of the EPA, Scott Pruitt believes that promoting and protecting a strong and healthy environment is among the lifeblood priorities of the government and that the EPA is vital to that mission.
The mission itself is supported by the Office of Environmental Information (https://www.epa.gov/aboutepa/about-office-environmental-information-oei) (OEI), which manages the life cycle of information surrounding the EPA’s mission. Stated clearly on its website, the OEI is proud to support the EPA, by identifying and implementing innovative information technology and information management solutions that strengthen EPA’s ability to achieve its goals. They ensure the quality of EPA’s information and the efficiency and reliability of EPA’s technology, data collection, exchange efforts and access services. The OEI also strives to provide technology services and manage EPA’s IT investments.
Together, the EPA and the OEI act, by developing and enforcing regulations, giving grants, both teaching and studying environmental issues, sponsoring partnerships and publishing information to accomplish this important goal.
A recent illustration of some of these actions came about in January 2018, with the release of a report outlining recommendations to promote agriculture, economic development, job growth, infrastructure improvements, technological innovation, energy security and the quality of life in rural America. As a member of the USDA Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity Release Recommendations to Revitalize Rural America, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) plays an important role in revitalising rural America. Pruitt confirmed his commitment to empowering rural America by stated that it will contribute to improving the “environmental outcomes across the country” (https://www.epa.gov/newsreleases/usda-task-force-agriculture-and-rural-prosperity-release-recommendations-revitalize).
In addition, EPA awards numerous grants to support state pesticide regulatory programmes ensuring these products are used properly, agricultural works are protected, and farmers can provide safe, healthy food for all Americans. More specifically, in May 2017 the EPA awarded $574k to the Washington State Department of Agriculture to support state-wide pesticide programmes. Administrator Pruitt states (https://www.epa.gov/newsreleases/epa-awards-574k-washington-state-department-agriculture-supporting-statewide-pesticide) : “We are pleased to support the pesticide programs in ensuring that pesticides are used properly, agricultural workers are protected, and Washington’s diverse agricultural landscape can thrive and remain a provider of safe, healthy food.”
The U.S. agriculture sector itself is somewhat robust, producing nearly $330 billion per year in agricultural commodities. The U.S. is also unsurprisingly currently the world’s leading exporter of agricultural products; the sector plays a critical role in the global economy. However, aspects of this are constantly under threat and with climate change becoming an ever-growing factor in the well-being of the agriculture sector, and as such, laws and regulations must be enforced to prevent lost capital.
On March 21, 2011, the EPA issued its final emission standards to reduce emissions of toxic air pollutants from industrial, commercial and institutional boilers located at area source facilities. An area source facility (https://www.epa.gov/stationary-sources-air-pollution/industrial-commercial-and-institutional-area-source-boilers) emits or has the potential to emit less than 10 tonnes per year of any single air toxic or less than 25 tonnes per year of any combination of air toxics. This final rule covers boilers located at area source facilities that burn coal, oil, or biomass, but not boilers that burn only gaseous fuels or any solid waste.
An area under threat in today’s climate and toxic air pollution is forestry. While perhaps not the most obvious means of exportation, forests, in fact, provide several important goods and services, including timber, recreational opportunities, cultural resources and habitat for wildlife. They also create numerous opportunities to reduce future climate change by capturing and storing carbon by providing resources for bioenergy production.
Both agricultural and forestry production are sensitive to changes in climate, including changes in temperature and precipitation, more frequent and severe extreme weather events as well as increased stress from pests and diseases. However, certain adaptation measures, such as changes in crop selection, field and forest management operations and use of technological innovations, have the potential to delay and reduce some of the negative impacts of climate change and could create new opportunities that benefit the sector.
Clearly, both the EPA and the OEI take their roles very seriously as responsible for human health and the environment. A drastic change in the climate could not only be dangerous to both the environment and its inhabitants, but also drastically change the potential yields of agricultural and forestry products, shifting land allocation, crop mix and production practices throughout the U.S. It is, therefore, important to protect the environment through means such as grants and education to enable it to thrive, benefitting all.
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