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A New Year, A Fresh Set of Actions for a Healthy America

President Obama rang in the New Year by signing a number of bills into law that will protect environmental and public health, and help rebuild our economy on a stronger foundation.

President Obama rang in the New Year with important action to protect environmental and public health, and rebuild our economy on a stronger foundation.  On Tuesday, the President returned to his desk and signed a number of bills passed into law by Congress, five of which help ensure Americans can enjoy clean air, safe drinking water, and healthy wildlife. 

These bills will curb lead levels in water pipes, a major source of harmful lead exposure for children, and help address diesel engine pollution that is linked to serious health conditions like asthma and heart and lung disease.  They also hold the Federal Government accountable for the water pollution it contributes to American communities; encourage volunteer opportunities in National Wildlife Refuges; and help conserve vulnerable shark populations. These measures are just the beginning of what we can accomplish in 2011.  We look forward to a year of continued progress toward a healthy and prosperous future for our country. 

The President signed the following environmental bills into law on Tuesday:

  • H.R. 81, the "Shark Conservation Act of 2010 and International Fisheries Agreement Clarification Act," which generally prohibits the removal of shark fins at sea and amends certain laws related to international fisheries;
  • H.R. 4973, the "National Wildlife Refuge Volunteer Improvement Act of 2010," which reauthorizes and amends authorities relating to volunteer programs and community partnerships for national wildlife refuges;
  • H.R. 5809, the "Diesel Emissions Reduction Act of 2010," which modifies and reauthorizes through FY 2016 the Environmental Protection Agency's Diesel Emissions Reduction Program;
  • S. 3481, which clarifies the Federal Government's responsibility to pay reasonable service charges to a State or local government to address stormwater pollution from Federal properties; and
  • S. 3874, the "Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water Act," which modifies the Safe Drinking Water Act definition of "lead free" with regard to pipes, pipe fittings, plumbing fittings, and fixtures

Nancy Sutley is Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality