Women and the Environment, Celebrating Women’s History Month with EPA Administrator Jackson

Women & the Environment Briefing at The White House, March 26, 2012 (image credit Microsoft Clipart)
On Monday, March 26, Jaime Matyas, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of National Wildlife Federation and I, Senior Manager of Campus Ecology at National Wildlife Federation, had the pleasure of attending a briefing at the White House on Women and the Environment hosted by Lisa Jackson, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. More than 40 female leaders in the environmental field, or related fields such as public health, attended.  

The morning session was full of brilliant, energizing women from the EPA and other offices within the U.S. government talking about their roles and the continued need for women to take an active role in protecting our natural resources.

Highlights include:
Administrator Jackson states that, “it takes action, bold action to make things happen. We are counting on women to help with this work [protecting the environment] – environmental hazards that impact both women’s health and children’s health.”

Heather Zichal, Deputy Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change, highlighted several victories that the EPA has experienced during the Jackson administration, including the first ever mercury standards for coal fired power plants.

Panel discussions included EPA staff working on a variety of issues including water, air and working in the areas of finance and enforcement. Nancy Stoner, Acting Assistant Administrator in the Office of Water, also known as the “water lady” spotlighted a few water-related efforts of the EPA including the Mexico Border Program which ensures safe drinking water and waste water services for border residents both in the U.S. and Mexico; there is an estimated 8.5 million border residents.

Cynthia Giles, Assistant Administrator in the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance, talked about her role in pursuing individuals or groups that are in violation of U.S. environmental laws; enforcement action ranges from fees to criminal action. Assistant Administrator Giles comments that YouTube as been a help with finding out about violators plus highlighted that tips are always welcome from concerned citizens at www.epa.gov/tips.

Gina McCarthy, Assistant Administrator in the Office of Air & Radiation said that the Clean Air Act (CAA) is the most successful and effective health (and environmental) law in the U.S; the CAA covers pollutants such as lead and ozone, just to name a few.  McCarthy said that the regulations are important, but “it’s not just about regulations, it’s also about changing behaviors.” Education and communication are key for the American public to understand how their daily choices impact the environment.

The briefing on Women & the Environment was a gathering to celebrate and acknowledge Women’s History Month – March.