Florida’s sewage systems are already strained by the Florida coast’s rapidly growing population. City growth policies encourage housing and economic development without updating necessary infrastructure. In many of the state’s biggest coastal cities, sewer systems were ill-prepared to handle Irma’s heavy rains and high tides.

The floodwaters of Hurricane Harvey have receded, but the work to clean up in the storm’s aftermath has just begun. One thing left in Harvey’s wake is a tremendous amount of debris -- people’s belongings and furniture, parts of buildings, trees, and boats destroyed during the hurricane.

Puget Sound is critical to the health and welfare of our families, our communities, and wildlife. For 40 years, EPA has been working to protect Puget Sound and its watershed from threats like stormwater, sewer overflows and industrial activity. Only a well-funded EPA can continue the legacy of progress in cleaning up Puget Sound and ensure that it is healthy and safe for us and future generations to enjoy.

While reforming commuter benefits at the federal level should be the end goal, the best place to start addressing commuter parking may be in the cities that bear the burden of our current policies in clogged streets and greater maintenance needs.

Texas’ oil and gas regulator, the Railroad Commission of Texas, has received reports of spilled oil, gas, and other fluids from at least 20 locations, involving thousands of barrels of oil and produced water. We may never know the full impacts of these spills, but here’s what we know now.

Officials are still trying to confirm whether Texas floodwaters have spread contamination from the toxic waste sites known as “Superfund sites” to residential areas. The Environmental Protection Agency says 13 Superfund sites were flooded and potentially damaged by Hurricane Harvey. Frontier Group has compiled a list of those locations, along with the contaminants at the sites and associated health concerns. 

Frontier Group has created a map of toxic sites and nuclear plants in the path of Hurricane Irma. Under severe weather conditions, some of these sites may pose a risk to human health and the environment.

In the 1980s, the EPA recommended that fishermen avoid eating any fish caught in Waukegan Harbor, just north of Chicago, to avoid exposure to toxic PCBs. The PCB contamination of Waukegan Harbor created what the EPA identified in 1981 as the “highest known concentrations of uncontrolled PCBs in the country.” Since then, EPA-funded cleanup efforts in Waukegan Harbor have removed PCB-contaminated sediment and fish are safe to consume, in limited quantities.

Hurricane Harvey and its aftermath touch on numerous issues that have been the focus of Frontier Group research over the years. The following is a list of Frontier Group resources that may be useful to the public, the media and policy-makers seeking to make sense of the disaster. 

Drainage from abandoned mines is the primary cause of pollution in the headwaters of the Schuylkill River, as old mines in eastern Pennsylvania leak acid and heavy metals into the river. One waterbody that suffered from abandoned mine drainage was Silver Creek, a tributary of the Schuylkill River south of Hazleton, which received pollution from the former Silver Creek Mine.

What impact would the Trump EPA budget, or lesser cuts proposed by Congress, have on the health of America’s waterways? This week, we launch a new report series, Rough Waters Ahead, written with Environment American Research & Policy Center, that tells how the EPA has helped to protect and restore the health of our nation’s great waterways – including the Delaware River Basin, the Great Lakes and Puget Sound – and how the Trump administration’s proposed budget would affect them. 

As Harvey moves toward the coast, we can hope for a best-case scenario in which the storm weakens or misses its mark. But even if we avoid disaster, the fossil fuel infrastructure of the Gulf Coast will remain an accident waiting to happen.

Amid the federal government rollback of key environmental protections, states recently won a big victory with the EPA’s decision to move forward with implementing stricter air quality standards nationwide.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture may soon approve commercial production of genetically modified eucalyptus trees in the U.S. The conversation around why we should embrace widespread planting of this tree is revealing of the economic paradigm in which we operate.

The latest climate study serves as a grave reminder that we can’t afford to just wait and see how technological transitions play out. To increase our chances of avoiding climatic tipping points and the emergence of negative feedback loops, we need to act boldly, decisively and intelligently to rebuild our energy system around zero-carbon technologies.

Not every American city – and perhaps not any American city – can follow Madrid’s model exactly. But all have the power to encourage compact land use, expand public transportation, tame the negative effects of private cars in urban places, and facilitate the growth of shared mobility and vehicle electrification – unlocking powerful opportunities for cutting carbon from transportation. 

Clean, renewable energy, once novel, is now a core part of America’s energy infrastructure. America produces 43 times more solar power than it did in 2007, now producing enough to power more than 5 million average American homes. And America produces seven times as much wind power as it did in 2007, now producing enough to power 21 million homes. The 10 states that have led the nation in adding wind and solar energy since 2007 are listed here. 

Repurposing balconies and bridges is part of a wider movement of “biophilic design,” which integrates nature and natural materials and forms into architecture and design to renature human spaces and restore our connection to nature, severed by urban living. Natural features for urban spaces can exist in many forms, from the streets to the roofs, including green roofs and facades, bioswales, or building shapes that mimic biological designs.

Getting off fossil fuels will take some hard work. The good news is that as cities across the country begin implementing climate plans, knowing what to do – and how to do it – is getting easier. Last week, our colleagues here in Boston at Environment Massachusetts released a new report offering some more help, called 100% Renewable Boston: How Boston Can Accelerate the Transition from Fossil Fuels to Clean, Renewable Energy. 

Last week, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt unveiled an idea for a Top 10 list that is sure to create controversy: a new ranking intended to prioritize Superfund hazardous waste cleanups. Yet Superfund sites are already ranked based on the relative threat they pose to the public, on what is called the National Priorities List. The sites on the National Priorities List are ranked using a data-driven methodology. How Pruitt will set his own priorities list is anyone’s guess.


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