EPA School Siting Guidelines: Supporting Smart Decisions About Where We Build Schools

February 17, 2011

For the first time, the federal government has taken steps toward preventing schools from being built on contaminated land. In November, the EPA released a draft of school siting guidelines that are intended to assist communities in making the best possible decisions when it comes to determining where a school should be built. You can read the guidelines here.

We commend the EPA for releasing these guidelines and hope the guidelines can provide the information needed to make smart decisions on where we build our schools.  Currently, only five states have laws that prevent schools from being located next to toxic contamination sites. These guidelines are an important step in making sure we site our schools in locations that do not put students and staff at risk.

Over the last few months, the EPA has collected comments from people around the country who want to share their thoughts on the draft guidelines.  We took the opportunity to send our thoughts to the EPA and encourage you to do the same at www.epa.gov/schools/sitingl. (Comments are due by tomorrow, Feb. 18.)

While we applauded the EPA’s effort, we did suggest that the EPA include more specific guidance on the types of sites that are likely to pose major health risks and present significant challenges when it comes to clean-up.  If you’d like to see our specific comments, click here [pdf].

We welcomed the opportunity have input on this important issue and are excited to see the final guidelines, which will be released by the EPA later this year. These guidelines provide a great foundation for helping communities make school siting decisions that protect the health of students and staff.