EPA Priorities in the Waning Hours of the Obama Administration

Toward the end of any administration, there’s always a mad dash by EPA to push through as much of its regulatory agenda as it can.  This past Friday, I was asked to pinch hit for Nancy Stoner, head of EPA’s Water Office, at the ABA’s annual environmental law conference in Baltimore.  Due to the partial government shutdown all EPA officials were threatened prohibited from making any public appearance to prognosticate on the agency’s priorities over the last three years of the Obama Administration.  Sorry, Nancy – we missed you.  But not to be overshadowed by the Air Office and the looming showdown on climate change regulations, I promised big things from you and your office (you’re welcome!), namely the “Big Three” rules, stormwater, waters of the U.S., and nutrients.  Continue reading

Rain Rain Go Away . . .

One of the ideas behind creating this blog was to highlight some of the great  conservation efforts underway across the Country and recognize the entrepreneurs and stewards behind those efforts, the unsung heroes of conservation.  I was recently inimagesCA517VLTtroduced to the work of Chris Bayley, Founder and Chair of Stewardship Partners, by a mutual friend, Michael Brown, Principal of Mead Brown.  Check out Chris’s website – his work is dedicated to helping restore the Puget Sound, working with landowners and businesses to live more thoughtfully here on the earth, by reducing water pollution entering the Sound through storm water runoff, a growing problem in many areas as I’ve highlighted here and here due to impervious surfaces such as roads, driveways, parking lots, and roof drains.

I’m inspired by Chris’s 12,000 rain garden campaign and will soon break out the shovel and landscaping tools to construct my very own rain garden.  Found a couple of great sites here and here with good background and design tips.  As the best of intentions go, I’ve been meaning to give this a go for quite some time to help restore the stream ravaged by storm water pollution here in our Rockville, Maryland community, but the hustle and bustle of life have diverted my attention.  Chris’s work has now given me that extra motivation.  I will endeavor to chronicle my efforts on this blog, along with a status report and pictures, as my progress (or failure) materializes.  If any readers have installed rain gardens of their own, and have tips or pictures they wish to share, please send them along and I will post them for all to enjoy and from which we can all learn. 

(Btw, Michael and I served together at EPA, and he has one of the best gigs in the world, hanging out and entertaining guests in Costa Rica at his rental villa – if you want an awesome vacation, check out Michael on Facebook).

The Bureaucratization of Environmentalism – can we survive good intentions?

[Update: This post has spawned a fair bit of discussion and represents many things that are wrong with the current way in which we as a society approach environmental problems.  This quaint little bridge is an apt metaphor for the fork in the road, which will always present choices, some of which are better and more correct than others.  Which path we pick is often influenced by competing factors.  A path that is selected solely for monetary reasons, disregarding all other sensibilities, will invariably be the wrong path chosen.  An aspirational goal for government ought to focus on eliminating those barriers – or helping build the bridge – to our picking the more correct path.]

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Sarah Palin has her bridge to nowhere story. This is my story of the bridge to somewhere – a 24 foot 11 inch bridge that spans a beautiful little perennial creek that bisects my neighborhood into Rockville and North Potomac.  And a bridge whose history made me madder than hell – and still to this day makes me shake my head in amazement. Continue reading

Nature’s Resilience – Chesapeake Bay and Signs of Hope

Promising news flowing from the Chesapeake Bay.  U.S. EPA is reporting that pollutants, such as phosphorous, nitrogen, and sediment, entering the Bay have fallen significantly since 2009.  And the Bay is showing resilience as its inhabitants, such as bluecrabblue crabs, oysters, and rockfish are beginning to show signs of thriving once again.  While much credit goes to the U.S. EPA, USDA, and the Bay States for continuing to work tirelessly to fix a very complicated environmental and sociological problem, we can thank many organizations, landowners, farmers, businesses, and local communities for their individual actions which collectively have resulted in a positive good. Continue reading