Let the EPA know that their strategic plan for 2011-2015 should include population and sustainability issues

July 27, 2010 • Climate Change & Mitigation, Farming Practices, Protection of Species, Water, Daily Email Recap

To very little fanfare, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released its Draft FY 2011-2015 Strategic Plan (PDF) (57pp, 282K) for public review and comment. Thanks to Joyce Tarnow for alerting me to the public comment period, which ends this Friday, July 30th. As of now, there are very few public remarks, so it will be advantageous even at this late date for as many people as possible to comment.

You can download and review the draft here:
http://www.epa.gov/ocfo/plan/2011/draft_strategic_plan_june_16_2010.pdf

Comments on the Draft Strategic Plan may be submitted, prior to midnight on Friday, July 30th at:
http://www.regulations.gov/search/Regs/home.html#submitComment?R=0900006480b054e6

NOTE: The EPA is (or should be) responsible for the long-term integrity of ecosystems and all natural resources within the total environment of the U.S. sovereign territories. ‘Long-term integrity’ here means sustainability, and the only way that they can ensure sustainability is to make sure that our nation is living within our natural resource ‘means’.

To make that determination, an agency like the EPA should conduct a broad and comprehensive sustainability evaluation of our nation. Certainly, once the EPA is charged with this responsibility, the analysis will readily show that we are very unsustainable and in order to correct the situation, U.S. policy decisions will have to be made that deal with any and all pertinent issues, including population! Putting the population issue in context with a sustainable future is important — it is politically correct to want to preserve life for future generations.

Somewhat surprisingly, the EPA does twice recognize population growth as an environmental issue within the document (see below). It could be useful to submit comments either encouraging the EPA to conduct a thorough sustainability evaluation of our sovereign territories; to think more deeply about the challenges population growth creates for a sustainable US future; or, criticizing them for not dealing more thoroughly with the issue in their current assessment and planning activities.

1. On page 24: “EPA is confronted with challenges, emerging issues, and opportunities every day. An oil spill, a flood, a hurricane, or other tragedy or disaster can divert the Agency’s anticipated focus in the short term. Other issues, such as climate change and population growth, can create long-term challenges that run deep and across many EPA programs…”

2. One page 24: “Water Quality:Water quality programs face challenges such as new drinking water contaminants, increases in nutrient loadings and stormwater runoff, aging infrastructure, and population growth (which can increase water consumption and place additional stress on aging water infrastructures). The Agency needs to examine carefully the potential impacts of solutions to these issues, including effects on water quality and quantity that could result in the long term from climate change.”

Once you have made comments on the strategic plan, you can also leave comments on the EPA blog topic “Expanding the Conversation on Environmentalism” by clicking through here:

http://blog.epa.gov/strategicplan/?p=134&preview=true

To give you inspiration, here is an summary of what Todd Greenburg wrote:

To Whom It May Concern:
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently released for widespread public review and comment a draft of its new 5-year Strategic Plan. The new Plan will drive much of what the Agency does between 2011-2015. Recognizing that population and environmental protection are inextricably linked, it is appalling that there is only passing mention of population in the draft Plan (page 24). The issue of population should take center stage in this kind of plan, for it undermines many efforts to improve the nation’s air, water, and land quality. Getting the average car to achieve 35 miles per gallon is not progress if we have 500,000 more people each year driving. Improving the energy efficiency of the average home is not progress if we have 400,000 new homes being built each year. Getting farmers to use less conventional pesticides in favor of organics is not progress if 50,000 new acres of crops need to be grown each year to keep up w/ growing demand for food. It’s all about carrying capacity and some experts fear we exceeded it years ago.

Given the focus of your organization, ignoring population links is a huge misstep by the EPA. The Agency needs to know that the counteractive impact of overpopulation on efforts to protect human health and the environment deserves more than just passing mention in the new strategy. The time for acting on overpopulation was yesterday. This Administration needs to do something, and quick. EPA is just as good a place as any to jump-start this critical dialogue.

So please consider sending comments along these lines by the 7/30/10 deadline — even if all you do is say that the section entitled External Factors and Emerging Issues deserves a more detailed discussion of the impact of population and an explanation of what the Agency intends to do about it. The more often EPA hears about this concern from multiple parties, the more likely it is to give the issue greater attention in the Plan.


Current World Population

7,711,330,106

Net Growth During Your Visit

0

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