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Environmental Policy 2001-2005

Updated: Oct 18, 2022

Hello all-

We hope you are enjoying the start of spooky season! This week we are firmly in the 21st century as we cover the environmental policies from 2001-2005! These few years were less focused on large-scale environmental policies, and more focused on responding to emergencies- particularly the attacks on September 11th in 2001 and the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. However we do see a continuation of the efforts that picked up in the late 1990s to pass preventative measures focused on emissions that harm vulnerable populations, particularly children.

2001- EPA responds to September 11

Following the attacks on the World Trade Center, the EPA worked with city and state officials to assist in environmental monitoring and clean up in the immediate aftermath. The attacks were an environmental disaster, posing a long term threat to the health of local residents and first responders on the scene. According to a 2003 EPA evaluation report, “Airborne dust from the collapse of the towers blanketed Lower Manhattan and was blown or dispersed into many of the surrounding office buildings, schools, and residences. This complex mixture of building debris and combustion by-products contained such ingredients as asbestos, lead, glass fibers, and concrete dust” (EPA’s Response to the World Trade Center Collapse: Challenges, Successes, and Areas for Improvement). In response, the EPAs work at Ground Zero included monitoring air, water and dust for potential environmental hazards, vacuuming debris and dust from streets of Lower Manhattan, disposing hazardous waste from the WTC site, and the creation of an online database to report monitoring results to the public and press (EPA Response to September 11 | Region 2 | US EPA). Their work continued long after the immediate response ended, with the EPA launching multiple projects and programs to address cleanup in the area. These programs included the Residential Dust Cleanup Program, which “allowed residents living south of Canal Street in lower Manhattan to have their homes professionally cleaned and tested or just tested free of charge” (EPA Response to September 11 | Region 2 | US EPA).

2003- Clean School Bus USA Program

With over 25 million children taking school busses every day, the Clean School Bus USA

program was designed to reduce the amount of diesel that children were exposed to on the bus,

thus improving the overall air quality. Not only was this program designed to "help

communities reduce emissions from older diesel school buses”(OAR US EPA) but it was also

focused on providing information on strategies to reduce emissions, which include reducing

or eliminating idling or updating bus fleets to have more fuel efficient models (OA US EPA). As of 2010, the EPA reported that 45,000 buses were using emission reduction technologies and that more than 3 million students were riding on cleaner school buses (Document Display | NEPIS | US EPA).

2005- EPA responds to Hurricane Katrina

In the wake of the destruction of Hurricane Katrina, which made landfall on the Gulf coast on August 29th, 2005, the EPA took on its role as the lead agency to clean up hazardous materials and conducted tests to monitor, restore and then maintain public health in the affected areas. From the immediate aftermath through the first year of clean up, the EPA “Conducted environmental monitoring and sampling of water, air, floodwater and residual sediment; responded to approximately 70 emergency situations to address chemical spills, fires, and other emergencies; provided technical advice and assistance, promoted recycling, and handled the disposal of over 4 million containers of household hazardous waste” (Katrina: One Year Anniversary | Response to 2005 Hurricanes | US EPA). In a 2006 report, the EPA noted that much of their Hurricane Katrina response was “generally improved upon by the lessons learned by the EPAs response to the World Trade Center collapse” but that there was still room for improvement in future disaster response, particularly related to coordination with other agencies and water tanker trucks (Katrina: One Year Anniversary | Response to 2005 Hurricanes | US EPA).


Works Cited

US EPA, OA. Milestones in EPA and Environmental History. 20 May 2020,

US EPA, OAR. Reducing Diesel Emissions from School Buses. 20 Aug. 2015

Document Display | NEPIS | US EPA. Accessed 5 Oct. 2022.

EPA’s Response to the World Trade Center Collapse: Challenges, Successes, and Areas for Improvement. p. 165.

EPA Response to September 11 | Region 2 | US EPA. Accessed 5 Oct. 2022.

Katrina: One Year Anniversary | Response to 2005 Hurricanes | US EPA. Accessed 5 Oct. 2022.

Lessons Learned: EPA’s Response to Hurricane Katrina. p. 29.

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