Heal the Bay staffers and board members had the honor of meeting Thursday with new EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson at our Santa Monica Pier Aquarium. We gave the administrator a brief tour of the facility and then we sat down to give her an overview of Heal the Bay’s latest work. We covered a lot of ground in a short time. We told her about the need for a national Beach Report Card, the scope of the global marine debris crisis and Heal the Bay actions to abate the problem, our work on Compton Creek and Stream Team, and our efforts to educate anglers about the health risks of eating DDT- and PCB-contaminated locally caught fish. We talked about our strong working relationship with EPA Region IX on such issues as TMDL and the Palos Verdes shelf Superfund site.
We also asked Jackson to take some critical actions.
For example, the recent draft Oceans Policy does not include strong language on the need to dramatically reduce marine debris and nutrient-polluted runoff and wastewater to America’s rivers and coastal waters. We urged her to lead the effort to rewrite the Bush Admininistration’s memo on Total Maximum Daily Loads (water body specific standards) to make sure that TMDL requirements are enforceable and inserted in appropriate permits.
By the end of the hour, Jackson got to know Heal the Bay, our accomplishments and our ongoing efforts a lot better. We were encouraged by her expressed willingness to work with us on critical water issues.
Later in the evening at a speech to the entertainment community, Jackson made it clear that her top priorities are climate change, toxics use reduction, air quality and water. To date, the administration’s actions on climate change have been bold, and just this week Jackson announced that toxics regulation will finally be reformed after over 30 years.
The administrator proved to be warm and personable. She’s a fellow nerd, with a master’s degree in chemical engineering from Princeton. She took the time to learn about Heal the Bay over the course of an extremely busy and eventful week. Most importantly, she opened the door for the environmental community to provide the technical and policy expertise to move forward on improving our nation’s continually degrading water quality. We need to seize that opportunity for the protection of public health and the environment.