Current Projects

EPA And the Future of Environmental Protection

The celebration of EPA’s 50th anniversary (in 2020) is an opportunity to reflect on the remarkable progress achieved under the Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act and other landmark environmental laws. It is also a critical juncture for focusing attention on the challenges that lie ahead. American University and the EPA Alumni Association (EPAAA) began this project by forming 5 focus groups involving over 60 former EPA employees to identify future directions for the agency. These suggestions were incorporated into a survey of EPA alumni. The survey results will be used by CEP to prepare a paper on "future directions for EPA" in advance of a conference titled: Future Directions for EPA and the Environment, hosted by American University on April 23-24, 2019. The conference is designed to stimulate a national conversation among policy makers and stakeholders on a future vision for EPA and environmental protection.

Equity Considerations for Lead Service Line Replacement in Washington, DC

American University’s Center for Environmental Policy (CEP) has received grant funding to examine whether Washington, DC’s voluntary (cost-share) approach to financing lead service line (LSL) replacement results in lower levels of replacement among low-income and minority residents. Until very recently, Washington, DC’s LSL program, like others nationwide, paid to replace the portion of a LSL located on public property, but required property owners to pay for replacements on private property. The affordability of LSL replacement for low-income households may affect the rate at which service lines are fully replaced. If so, then the overall rate of replacement in low-income neighborhoods is likely to be lower than in other parts of the city, resulting in potentially disproportionate exposure to lead in drinking water.

This study will test that hypothesis through a statistical model based on ten years of matched data from DC Water and the U.S. Census. Specifically, the model will attempt to explain LSL replacement (or failure to replace) as a function of property owners’ relevant characteristics—specifically household income, race/ethnicity, education level, and owner/renter status. In addition, the study will look at time as a variable to determine if rates of replacement changed following notable events, in particular, peak media coverage of the tragedy in Flint. Finally, the study will examine the rate of customer response to various types of DC Water outreach and whether customer responsiveness varies by income, race/ethnicity, etc.

The study’s results are designed to inform the many other cities and states that are drafting policies and programs for LSL replacement as well as potential changes to federal policy under the Safe Drinking Water Act.

Partnership on Technology Innovation and the Environment: Workshop on Environmental Protection, Artificial Intelligence, and Machine Learning

In this project, the Center for Environmental Policy provides management and analytical support for the Partnership on Technology Innovation and the Environment in its effort to identify and advance artificial intelligence and machine learning in support of environmental protection goals. This was the fifth such workshop organized by the Partnership.

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Collaborative Governance Mapping Project

This project seeks to map the connections between concepts related to collaborative governance in an effort to promote advancement in the field by connecting literature across academic disciplines. The lack of concise terminology describing collaborative governance phenomena is a barrier for theory building. Research assessing collaboration as a governance strategy frequently fails to include relevant studies due to the lack of a common vocabulary. This project begins to address this issue by distinguishing collaborative governance terminology and drawing linkages between scholars who are using different terms to describe the same thing.
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