After months of reading near-daily newsletters from DOE and EPA, I’ve reached a conclusion about that question: The government is doing more than we think, and the media is reporting on almost none of it.

But in fact, our government is doing a lot about environmental issues of every sort. Taken in the aggregate, the sweep is quite amazing. Throughout this past week, I provided an overview that may well surprise you: our government is continually making concerted efforts to improve a great many aspects of the environment.

Please keep in mind, however, this is not nearly an exhaustive list. In fact, the EPA issued over a dozen press releases in the past week alone. Once again, these stories are just the very tip of the iceberg.

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EPA Annual Enforcement Results Highlights Commitment to Address Largest Pollution Problems with Greatest Community Impact / Focused effort on high-impact cases leads to increases in pollution reduced and investments in pollution controls

WASHINGTON – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its annual enforcement and compliance results. EPA’s enforcement and compliance program enforces environmental laws that protect our nation’s air, land and water by taking action to cut illegal pollution and protect people’s health and communities. In fiscal year Fiscal Year 2011, EPA enforcement actions led to more than 1.8 billion pounds in pollution reduced, an estimated $19 billion in required pollution controls and approximately $168 million in civil penalties. [bolding added]

U.S. EPA, Napa County Announce Millions for Water Quality, Flood Damage, Northern California Salmon
Napa vineyards have suffered flood damage, river bank collapse due to erosion, landowners along the Napa River will convert 135 acres of farmland to wildlife habitat to support restoration efforts

SAN FRANCISCO — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Napa County, Calif., will today announce the details of nearly $3.3 Million in federal, state and local funding aimed at restoring water quality and riparian and aquatic habitats in the Napa River watershed. As part of two major restoration efforts covering 15 miles of the Napa River, more than 40 landowners have committed to converting nearly 135 acres of farmland to wildlife habitat.

Regional steelhead and Chinook salmon populations have suffered steep declines as a result of high concentrations of fine sediment in the Napa River, which clouds spawning gravel. In-stream erosion has degraded the once complex channel, severely reducing rearing habitat for these species. The river, which runs 55 miles from Mt. St. Helena to the San Pablo Bay, is also prone to seasonal flooding from November to April.

SEPTA Receives $1.2 Million EPA Grant to Improve Air Quality

PHILADELPHIA (Dec. 8, 2011) – A $1.2 million grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will help SEPTA improve air quality in and around its rail yards, through the conversion of a locomotive to a clean diesel engine.

EPA Regional Administrator Shawn M. Garvin announced the funding, made possible through EPA’s Diesel Emissions Reduction Act Program, during a press conference today with SEPTA General Manager Joseph M. Casey.

The EPA-funded project will help SEPTA repower the engine of a conventional diesel maintenance locomotive with two generator sets (“GenSet”), and a diesel particulate filter. The repower will drastically cut harmful diesel emissions.

U.S. EPA orders City and County of Honolulu and Waste Management to address stormwater violations at Waimanalo Gulch Landfill

HONOLULU – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency this week issued an order to the City and County of Honolulu and Waste Management, Inc., to take immediate steps to address stormwater violations at the Waimanalo Gulch Sanitary Landfill on Oahu.

EPA’s ongoing review of operations at the landfill revealed violations of the Clean Water Act and the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit regulating stormwater discharges from the landfill.

“The City and County of Honolulu and Waste Management must quickly complete work on stormwater protections at the landfill,” said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “We will be closely monitoring the work so runoff from future storms is properly controlled and residents’ health and Oahu’s coastal waters are protected.”

Department of Energy Awards More Than $175 Million for Advanced Vehicle Research and Development

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu today announced more than $175 million over the next three to five years to accelerate the development and deployment of advanced vehicle technologies. The funding will support 40 projects across 15 states and will help improve the fuel efficiency of next generation vehicles. The projects will target new innovations throughout the vehicle, including better fuels and lubricants, lighter weight materials, longer-lasting and cheaper electric vehicle batteries and components, more efficient engine technologies, and more. This comprehensive approach to vehicle efficiency research and development will help ensure the technologies are available to help automakers achieve recently announced fuel efficiency standards.

DOE Awards More Than $30 Million to Help Universities Train the Next Generation of Industrial Energy Efficiency Experts

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu today announced more than $30 million for 24 universities in 23 states across the country to train undergraduate- and graduate-level engineering students in manufacturing efficiency to help them become the nation’s next generation of industrial energy efficiency experts. Each school will receive $200,000 to $300,000 per year for up to 5 years to help university teams to gain practical training on core energy management concepts through DOE’s successful Industrial Assessment Center program.

Making Buildings Better: Indie Energy & the Geothermal Breakthrough

Indie Energy is one of many innovative new companies participating in the mentorship program. Founded in 2006, Indie Energy has created a breakthrough to reduce energy waste in buildings by developing state-of-the-art technology to make widespread geothermal heating and cooling possible for the first time. The company’s energy saving “Smart Geothermal” technology has already proven effective with customers including Walgreens, Astellas Pharmaceuticals, Medline Industries and numerous public and not-for-profit institutions, including an energy upgrade of International Union of Operating Engineers Local 150’s commercial building campus — made possible by a $2.45 million grant for advancement of the company’s technology through the Department of Energy.

Indie Energy Vice President and co-founder Erik Larson told us that the upgrade of Local 150’s building campus is almost finished, and that all the buildings have been connected to geothermal heat sources and plugged into their novel metering system, which is called the “Smart Geothermal Network.” This network is the backbone of Indie Energy’s innovation and helps optimize building performance and save energy by using real-time data from the building every minute and sending it to the Smart Geothermal Network and Energy Loop servers, which continually provide feedback that adjusts with weather, grid prices and other outside factors that affect energy use.

In addition to these novel metering technologies, Indie Energy’s innovative implementation process has made it possible to install systems in commercial buildings and urban areas where geothermal energy has been less of an option for alternative energy sources than in rural areas that offer greater amounts of space.

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Needless to say, there’s much, much more. I hope this week has been illuminating.

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Reader Comments welcome.