Category: Rick Reibstein
Rick Reibstein, lecturer in Environmental Law and Policy, has been named to the federal advisory committee established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to examine policy related to the Chemical Data Reporting rule of the Toxic Substances Control Act. The committee is for a negotiated rulemaking concerning Section 8(a) of TSCA, which requires chemical companies to report on where their chemicals are used. Negotiated rulemaking is a process in which representatives of stakeholder groups try to reach consensus on a proposed rule. Reibstein was proposed for the committee by the National Pollution Prevention Roundtable, where he serves as an at-large board member.
Lecturer on Environmental Law and Policy Rick Reibstein organized a session called “A Public Conversation on Lead” at the April 6 Fair Housing and Civil Rights conference hosted by the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination in Springfield, MA. Reibstein has recently created a website to promote awareness of the issue and what we can do about it. The session was an experiment in democratic engagement to see if people who have never met each other before could come together and craft a joint statement. In a short time the group was able to write a letter to Ben Carson, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. Inspired by this, the Silver Valley Coalition of Idaho, site of one of the worst lead-contaminated areas in the U.S., wrote letters to Carson and to Administrator Scott Pruitt at the Environmental Protection Agency. See the statements at www.leadconversation.net, under Events.
Student Katelyn Tarrio presents to MA Department of Environmental Protection’s Waste Site Cleanup Advisory Committee
On March 23 BU undergraduate student Katelyn Tarrio presented to the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection’s Waste Site Cleanup Advisory Committee. There were approximately 50 officials and professionals in attendance, and the presentation was taped and live-streamed to other agencies and officials involved in waste site cleanup. Tarrio has produced maps of contaminated sites vulnerable to increased flooding due to climate change. DEP’s Thomas Potter asked for the presentation so that waste site cleanup professionals will take this risk into consideration. Tarrio’s work is one of the first efforts to use new FEMA flood maps to target the most at-risk sites. Her presentation was extremely well received. The work was produced as part of Rick Reibstein‘s Directed Study course “Research for Environmental Agencies,” and the original work is at www.bu.edu/rccp. Antonio Chidiac assisted with the project.
In conjunction with his new textbook Developing Sustainable Environmental Responsibility, Lecturer Rick Reibstein will host webinars over the next month. The free series will elaborate on the concept of the book: the goal of developing the sense of responsibilities that would result in sustainability, and which could be sustained. Click here to register for free.
Lecturer Rick Reibstein has published a piece on pollution prevention on RegBlog, the Penn Law source of regulatory news, analysis, and opinion. Click to read “Restoring Pollution Prevention and the Concept of Positive Freedom.”
Earth & Environment lecturer Richard Riebstein sat this summer with the Global Energy & Environmental Law Podcast to talk about the problems and issues surrounding the compliance and enforcement of environmental issues. Listen to the interview here.
Earth & Environment lecturer Richard Riebstein has published Developing Sustainable Environmental Responsibility, now available from Trunity Press.
Developing Sustainable Environmental Responsibility is the first book of its kind, helping readers to embrace the extraordinarily large and often overwhelming field of environmental issues through the integration of individual perspectives and efforts in a shared context. It is an invaluable complement to specialized courses on environmental science, law, policy, journalism, diplomacy, economics, international relations, sociology, psychology and history. The book’s overviews of history, consciousness, and the principles of democracy show how the environmental emergency can be addressed through rights-based governance and a focus on root causes and problem solving. It contains information and exercises that generate pragmatic hope and enhance skills necessary for removing barriers to progress.
By Rick Reibstein
Seven students this semester participated in a new directed study course performing research tasks related to climate change for state agencies. Each week they met and went over progress, reporting to each other on their work. They were supervised by Rick Reibstein, lecturer in environmental law and policy, who used his contacts from his career in state government to arrange the projects. On April 19, three of the students made an extended presentation to officials at the Department of Environmental Protection, and on April 25, all seven students will present their work to Matt Beaton, (a former student of this program), who is now the Commonwealth’s Secretary of the Environment.
Celia Simpson and Tara Moore used the “Tier 2” database, which includes information about chemical storage, to identify facilities in areas of high flood risk. Their work will be of help to the state’s Office of Technical Assistance (OTA), which is now engaged in training fire departments in how to reduce the vulnerability of communities to contamination from chemicals dispersed by more frequent and intense storm events. Qiyuan Fu and Sophia Xiong searched out reports of net-zero building projects and produced an analysis of the range of construction costs for the specialist at the Department of Energy Resources in charge of promoting net-zero buildings. Zach Schmidt, Sam Campbell and Sari Klein sorted through various approaches to determining the cumulative impact of environmental and health threats to communities, and mapped the vulnerability of communities to the increased risk of storm events disrupting ongoing cleanups at already contaminated sites. Their work will help DEP to evaluate approaches to identifying at-risk communities and their presentation was very well received.
In our last meeting the students shared these comments on their experience. Zach noted that it was an opportunity to understand how the government of Massachusetts works, and to get to know what is expected of you when working in the environmental field. The topics they covered were “very real topics facing state governments now”. Sari said that it was the “first professional experience in the environmental field” that she had participated in thus far at BU, and Sam noted how valuable it was to work with the state employees, and that the experience allowed for a lot of freedom in how they could approach the problem, while the advice received helped to maintain focus.
The students learned about waste sites and waste cleanup, chemicals used and stored in the state, flood risk, environmental justice, existing environmental information, relevant laws, and how buildings can become zero-energy and the practical aspects of that effort. They know a good deal now about how state governments do their work and they have had a taste of how good it can feel to contribute to the effort to protect the public, because their work will be used for that purpose. They made a real contribution. Celia and Tara learned how hard it is to download and access the Tier 2 data. This may help explain why fire departments have largely failed to use it, and how OTA can focus its efforts. Qiyuan and Sophia have done pioneering work, as it appears that no one else has pulled together the information that they found, and they have come up with some ideas for standardizing such reports. Zach, Sam and Sari showed DEP how they could use Google Earth in conjunction with the department’s GIS system to produce maps correlating information. Mark Smith, Director of DEP’s Office of Research and Standards, has thanked the Earth and Environment Department for the help given to DEP, noting that the students’ “work and presentations to MassDEP were fabulous and very helpful. I look forward to continuing collaboration with your Department and exploring other ways for students to do similar projects.”
Students interested in participating in this directed study course next year should contact Rick Reibstein at email@example.com. He will be in contact with state agencies through the summer and ready to describe potential projects relating to environmental topics, at the beginning of the Fall semester. Contact him to be on a list to be notified of specific information about these topics. They will likely include continuing some of the work described above, as well as new research tasks.
Richard Reibstein, who has been providing courses on environmental law and policy in the College of Arts and Sciences since 2000, now as part of the Earth and Environment department, was recently declared a “P2 Champion” of 2015 by the National Pollution Prevention Roundtable (NPPR), the premiere group for pollution prevention (P2) professionals. Congress declared in the Pollution Prevention Act of 1990 that it is “the national policy of the United States that pollution should be prevented or reduced at the source whenever feasible”, before recycling or treatment or disposal.
Reibstein worked for twenty-seven years for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in the state’s Toxics Use Reduction program, in an office that provides free technical assistance for pollution prevention. In that capacity he launched programs for environmentally preferable purchasing, training for schools and hospitals, and business environmental networks, and many events and publications to help companies and others reduce the use of toxics, energy and water.
According to the NPPR, the P2 Champion Award “celebrates an individual whose work has had an outstanding impact on implementing pollution prevention in one or more of the following areas: Setting pollution prevention vision and strategies; Leading and directing pollution prevention programs; Implementing pollution prevention projects; and/or Significant impact on pollution prevention achieved.” The most recent report by the NPPR on the achievements of P2 programs throughout the nation found that “From 2007-2009, approximately 90 P2 programs in the U.S. reported almost $6.6 billion in economic benefits; more than 7 billion pounds of pollution minimized or eliminated; approximately 16 billion gallons of water conserved; energy usage reduced by almost 2.5 billion kilowatts; over 33 billion pounds of greenhouse gases (GHG) no longer being released into the earth’s atmosphere associated with P2 activities.”
Reibstein told the Department of Earth & Environment that the fact that there are so many government programs having these great results is not widely known. He said that nearly two thousand companies and organizations used the program’s help, when none of them had to, and many had to overcome a fear of contact with government environmental agencies. It was only because the idea of reducing pollution by reducing the use of toxics that become toxic wastes, emissions, and discharges makes so much sense, and so often saves money, that businesses were happy to use the assistance service.
The article “Commentary: Our legislators are right, industry leaders have toxic reasoning” can be found online here.
To learn more about Reibstein’s work, check out his profile page.