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In The News: The EPA’s Future in America

Many of you currently reading this post were able to read ecoSPEARS’s first official blog post last week. Along with those bi-weekly blog posts, we will also be posting weekly “blurbs” of news highlights and conversations happening in the environmental world to help you all keep up-to-date on relevant issues.

This week, we’ll be looking at key highlights and takeaways from early February. A majority of the articles we’ve seen and posted on our social media platforms are predominantly focused on talks within and regarding the Environmental Protection Agency.

Continuing off last month’s talks of cleanup status on the Hudson River, the EPA has retained its stance to work with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC). Basil Seggos, NYSDEC Commissioner, has welcomed collaboration with the EPA and other New York State officials on not only collecting but evaluating and analyzing existing and future samples of sediment and water from the Lower Hudson. This will allow all stakeholders involved in the cleanup of the Hudson to form and negotiate a plan of action for attacking the remainder of contamination along floodplains and contaminated hot-spots of the Hudson River.

Just a few states over from the Hudson River, lawmakers remain in talks with EPA in order to urge the Agency to demand General Electric (GE) dispose of PCB-contaminated waste off-site from remediated areas of the Housatonic River in Berkshire County, Massachusetts. GE argues that disposing of PCBs out-of-state will tack on an extra $250M to the $613M present cost of its remediation project of the Housatonic. Local communities in Berkshire County and their representatives state that local disposal is not only unnecessary, but would continue to harm the citizens and ecosystem of the Berkshires and that GE – as the party liable for PCB removal and disposal – is responsible to pay the cost for out-of-state disposal to ensure the health of those already affected by toxins within and along the Housatonic floodplain in Massachusetts.

More news regarding the Environmental Protection Agency hit the press when Andrew R. Wheeler’s nomination as the new Acting Deputy Director of the EPA was pushed to the Senate floor last week. Wheeler’s nomination came days after bipartisan outcry of Kathleen Hartnett White’s nomination to lead the White House’s Council of Environmental Quality due to her stances on contemporary environmental issues. While both political parties remained silent on the matter of Wheeler’s nomination, his appointment has drawn criticism from many due to Wheeler’s career as a lobbyist for coal and other fossil-fuel manufacturers as well as his own stance on environmental matters including pollution and climate change.

Days after Wheeler’s nomination hit the Senate floor in Washington D.C., ex-EPA director Gina McCarthy visited Central Washington University (CWU) as a guest speaker. McCarthy spoke at CWU in rooms packed full of science students, urging the students to “take action” in order to ensure access to cleaner water, land, and air for the future. “It is not a democratic issue. It is not a Republican issue. It is not owned by one party,” McCarthy said in her talks at CWU, “This is the core value that we have celebrated and successfully delivered for 47 years using federal laws, and that is not going to change in the course of a year or four years or eight years.”

McCarthy ended her talk at CWU on a note of hope for the future: one echoed by our own team and organization here at ecoSPEARS. Regardless of the damage that has already been done to the environment, there is no better time to act on finding a permanent solution to the issue than now.

Rarely before has our nation seen or been through times as trying as those of late. Our country’s current state of unrest is not new, albeit uncommon. Despite political perforations in our federal fabric, McCarthy’s sentiment of bipartisanism is one to be echoed in the hearts and minds of all Americans.

The future of our country is uncertain. It has always been uncertain. That is not because of a waning or waxing of political strength or opposition: that is a simple causality of life. The only things we as human beings can be certain of are where our heads and hearts can meet in order to execute action for the sake of bettering the future and lives of others.

ecoSPEARS does not seek to point fingers or blame at any specific person, party or organization. We exist solely to give polluted waterways and communities affected by contamination a second chance. The only way this can be done is by working with all stakeholders and citizens involved in order to achieve a permanent solution to the underlying problem. It all starts with a conversation. After all, a problem addressed is half-solved.

The other half starts with all of us.

For more information about how you can help your community reclaim its polluted waterways, email

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