EPA Hosts Federal-State-Local Conversation

On December 3rd, EPA’s Office of Congressional and Intergovernmental Relations hosted a conversation among state and local stakeholder group representatives (including ASDWA) with EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, Deputy Assistant Administrator for ORD Thomas Burke, ECOS Executive Director Alex Dunn, and ASTHO Environmental Director Bob Vanderslice.  Administrator McCarthy emphasized the criticality of the Federal-state-local partnership in all that we do — and the importance of working in collaboration so that we can best leverage our respective human and financial resources.  She observed that we’re collectively challenged in communicating the value of what we do and the importance of environmental and public health protection to the public.  Dr. Burke suggested that one of the most important challenges, in effectively carrying out ORD’s mission, is to ask (and seek to answer) the most important research questions as well as work to ensure the ORD’s “deliverables” have real, practical application.

Mr. Vanderslice noted that one of ASTHO’s unifying themes and driving principles is “health in all policies” – i.e., ensuring that the ultimate public health impacts of policies and approaches are constantly borne in mind.  He also took note of the criticality of local, actionable data to help drive and inform appropriate decisions.  Ms. Dunn echoed the theme mentioned by Administrator McCarthy regarding the importance of effective communications with all stakeholders.  She also noted the value of a number of recently developed EPA tools, such as the Environmental Justice Screening tool (EJ Screen) and the importance of ensuring that states are aware of the various tools.  In connection with Dr. Burke’s remarks, she said that ECOS had recently assessed state research needs and supports an ongoing relationship with ORD to ensure collective research questions are identified and coordinated.  To wrap-up the discussion, Abby Hall and Matt Dolby of EPA’s Office of Sustainable Communities gave a brief overview of that office’s various place-based initiatives and the importance of taking a holistic approach to communities – one that sets priorities appropriately based on a comprehensive understanding of environmental and public health challenges.