Tasked with selecting indicators of environmental progress, the ECOS Measures Workgroup decided on the common measures based on the following set of criteria:
- Measure is understandable and meaningful to the public
- Measure is associated with:
- protection of the environment
- protection of public health
- economic impacts
- is readily accessible at the state level
- is validated by the state
- Allows for trend analysis
- Routinely submitted/reported to federal agency
- Comparable across states (data is collected similarly across all states)
The Common Measures are available here, and described in detail below.
Air Healthy to Breathe
Ambient Air Pollution
Ambient Concentrations of Pollutants Relative to the National Ambient Air Quality Standard Over Time
- Source: U.S. EPA’s Report on the Environment
- NAAQS – National Ambient Air Quality Standards
- NAAQS include six principal pollutants, including carbon monoxide, lead, nitrogen dioxide, ozone, particle pollution, and sulfur dioxide.
- More information about the NAAQS and Pollutants can be found at the U.S. EPA’s page on NAAQS Table.
Point Source Emissions
Point Source Emissions of PM10 and 2.5, CO, NOx, SO2, and VOCs Over Time
- Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (U.S. EPA) Emissions Inventory System using available data from the National Emissions Inventory (NEI)
- Point Source: NEI point sources include emissions estimates for larger sources that are located at a fixed, stationary location. Point sources in the NEI include large industrial facilities and electric power plants, airports, and smaller industrial, non-industrial and commercial facilities. A small number of portable sources such as some asphalt or rock crushing operations are also included. Some states voluntarily also provide facilities such as dry cleaners, gas stations, and livestock facilities, which are otherwise included in the NEI as nonpoint sources.
- Definitions of each pollutant can be found at the U.S. EPA’s Air Topics page.
Healthy and Thriving Communities
Comparison of Economic Indicators Versus Emissions of Common Pollutants
- GDP: BEA’s featured measure of U.S. production. GDP is the market value of the goods, services, and structures produced by the nation’s economy in a particular period less the value of the goods and services used up in production. GDP is calculated as the sum of personal consumption expenditures, gross private domestic investment, net exports of goods and services, and government consumption expenditures and gross investment. GDP is also equal to the sum of value added by industry across all industries.
- VMT: Vehicle Miles Traveled in a given year from all vehicles.
- Common Pollutants: U.S. EPA has set national air quality standards for six common air pollutants (also called the criteria pollutants). More information can be found at the U.S. EPA’s page on Air Emissions Sources.
Returning Contaminated Land to Productive Use
- Source: U.S. EPA’s ACRES and State Cleanup Programs
- Brownfield: A brownfield is a property, the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant.
Less and Properly Managed Waste
Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA)
RCRA is the public law that creates the framework for the proper management of hazardous and non-hazardous solid waste. The law describes the waste management program mandated by Congress that gave U.S. EPA authority to develop the RCRA program. The term RCRA is often used interchangeably to refer to the law, regulations and U.S. EPA policy and guidance.
RCRA Subtitle I Compliance – Percent Underground Storage Tank (UST) Facilities in Significant Operational Compliance Over Time
- Source: U.S. EPA’s UST Performance Measures
RCRA Subtitle C Compliance – Percent of RCRA Facility Inspections Where No Significant Non-Compliance is Found
- Source: U.S. EPA’s Enforcement and History Online State Hazardous Waste Dashboard
- Significant Non-Compliance: SNC (this term is used in the Clean Water Act and Resource Conservation and Recovery Act programs), HPV (this term is used in the Clean Air Act program), or Serious Violator (in the Safe Drinking Water Act program) is the most serious level of violation noted in U.S. EPA databases. This designation provides an indication of whether violations or noncompliance events at a given facility may pose a more severe level of concern for the environment or program integrity.
Percent of RCRA Facilities in Corrective Action with Human Exposure under Control
- Source: U.S. EPA’s RCRAInfo
- Corrective Action: A requirement under RCRA that facilities that treat, store or dispose of hazardous wastes, investigate and clean up hazardous releases into soil, ground water, surface water and air.
- Human Exposure: One of the priorities for both the NPL and RCRA Cleanup Baseline sites is safeguarding against human exposures to site contamination. U.S. EPA and state officials determine whether there is a reasonable expectation that humans could be exposed to site contamination and if interim actions are needed to reduce or eliminate all current human exposure in excess of health-based standards.
Leaking Underground Storage Tank (LUST) Cleanups
Number of LUST Cleanups Completed that Meet Cleanup Standards
- Source: U.S. EPA’s UST Performance Measures
- LUST: A typical LUST scenario involves the release of a fuel product from an UST that can contaminate surrounding soil, groundwater, or surface waters, or affect indoor air spaces. Early detection of an UST release is important, as is determining the source of the release, the type of fuel released, the occurrence of imminently threatened receptors, and the appropriate initial response. The primary objective of the initial response is to determine the nature and extent of a release as soon as possible.
Water Clean and Available for All Uses
Percent of State Population Served by Compliant Community Water Systems (CWS) and Percent of Community Water Systems Meeting All Applicable Health-Based Standards
- Source: U.S. EPA’s Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF)
- Community Water System: CWSs are public water systems that supply water to the same population year-round
- Health Based Standards include Maximum Contaminant Levels (MCLs), Maximum Residual Disinfection Levels (MRDLs), and Treatment Techniques (TTs). An MCL is the highest level of a contaminant that is allowed in drinking water. An MRDL is the level of a disinfectant added for water treatment that may not be exceeded at the consumer’s tap without an unacceptable possibility of adverse health effects. A TT is a required treatment process (such as filtration) intended to reduce the level of a contaminant in drinking water (U.S. EPA, 2017b).
Percent Waterbodies Monitored and Waters Meeting Designated Uses
- Source: U.S. EPA ATTAINS
- The Assessment, TMDL Tracking, and ImplementatioN System (ATTAINS) contains information on water quality assessments, impaired waters, and total maximum daily loads (TMDLs), through data submitted by states under Clean Water Act sections 303(d) and 305(b).
- The Clean Water Act requires states, territories and authorized tribes (states for brevity) to monitor water pollution and report to U.S. EPA every two years on the waters they have evaluated. This process is called assessment. Part of this process is deciding which waters do not meet water quality standards because they are too polluted. These degraded waters are called impaired (polluted enough to require action) and are placed on a State list for future actions to reduce pollution.
Point Source Pollution
Total Pounds of Nitrogen and Phosphorus Discharged from Major National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Facilities
- Source: DMR Loading Tool
- Major NPDES Facilities: NPDES is a provision of the Clean Water Act that prohibits discharge of pollutants into waters of the U.S. unless a special permit is issued by the U.S. EPA or a delegated state or tribal government. States may choose to enact restrictions that go beyond U.S. EPA requirements and offer additional protections.
Percent of Major Wastewater Dischargers without Significant Non-Compliance
- Source: U.S. EPA’s Enforcement and Compliance History Online
- Major: “Major” municipal dischargers include all facilities with design flows of greater than one million gallons per day and facilities with U.S. EPA/state or local government approved industrial pretreatment programs. Major industrial facilities are determined based on specific ratings criteria developed by U.S. EPA or are classified as such by U.S. EPA in conjunction with the state.
- Significant Noncompliance: SNC (this term is used in the Clean Water Act and Resource Conservation and Recovery Act programs), HPV (this term is used in the Clean Air Act program), or Serious Violator (in the Safe Drinking Water Act program) is the most serious level of violation noted in U.S. EPA databases. This designation provides an indication of whether violations or noncompliance events at a given facility may pose a more severe level of concern for the environment or program integrity.
Reduction in Nonpoint Source Pollutants
Estimated Annual Reduction in Million Pounds of Nitrogen and Phosphorus, and Tons of Sediment from Nonpoint Sources to Waterbodies (Section 319 Funded Projects Only)
- Source: U.S. EPA’s Grants Reporting and Tracking System (GRTS)
- Section 319: Under Section 319 of the Clean Water Act, states, territories and tribes receive grant money that supports a wide variety of activities including technical assistance, financial assistance, education, training, technology transfer, demonstration projects and monitoring to assess the success of specific nonpoint source implementation projects.
- Nonpoint Sources: Nonpoint sources are diffuse pollution sources (i.e. without a single point of origin or not introduced into a receiving stream from a specific outlet). The pollutants are generally carried off the land by storm water. Common nonpoint sources are agriculture, forestry, urban, mining, construction, dams, channels, land disposal, saltwater intrusion, and city streets.
- Nonpoint Source Pollution can come in the form of Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Sediment. Sources may include:
- Excess fertilizers, herbicides and insecticides from agricultural lands and residential areas
- Oil, grease and toxic chemicals from urban runoff and energy production
- Sediment from improperly managed construction sites, crop and forest lands, and eroding streambanks
- Salt from irrigation practices and acid drainage from abandoned mines
- Bacteria and nutrients from livestock, pet wastes and faulty septic systems
- Atmospheric deposition and hydromodification
Investments in Water Infrastructure
Investments in Water Infrastructure
- Source: U.S. EPA’s CWSRF