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Statement by the President

Barack Obama's White House Presidential Office (D) posted a Press Release on September 16, 2014 | 10:03 am - Original Item - Comments (View)

One year ago, our dedicated military and civilian personnel at the Washington Navy Yard were targeted in an unspeakable act of violence that took the lives of 12 American patriots. As we remember men and women taken from us so senselessly, we keep close their family and friends, stand with the survivors who continue to heal and pay tribute to the first responders who acted with skill and bravery. At the same time, we continue to improve security at our country’s bases and installations to protect our military and civilian personnel who help keep us safe. One year ago, 12 Americans went to work to protect and strengthen the country they loved. Today, we must do the same – rejecting atrocities like these as the new normal and renewing our call for common-sense reforms that respect our traditions while reducing the gun violence that shatters too many American families every day.

FACT SHEET: Obama Administration Partners with Private Sector on New Commitments to Slash Emissions of Potent Greenhouse Gases

Barack Obama's White House Presidential Office (D) posted a Press Release on September 16, 2014 | 9:45 am - Original Item - Comments (View)

EXECUTIVE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT
COUNCIL ON ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY
WASHINGTON, D.C. 20503


press@ceq.eop.gov

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
September 16, 2014

FACT SHEET: Obama Administration Partners with Private Sector on New Commitments to Slash Emissions of Potent Greenhouse Gases and Catalyze Global HFC Phase Down

The Obama Administration is committed to taking responsible steps to slow the effects of climate change so we leave behind a cleaner, more stable environment for future generations. That’s why, today, the Administration is announcing new private sector commitments and executive actions to reduce emissions of hydroflourocarbons (HFCs), powerful greenhouse gases that contribute to climate changeThe commitments made today would reduce cumulative global consumption of these greenhouse gases by the equivalent of 700 million metric tons of carbon dioxide through 2025, equivalent to 1.5% of the world’s 2010 greenhouse gas emissions and the same as taking nearly 15 million cars off the road for 10 years. In addition, the Administration is announcing a set of executive actions to continue progress in reducing HFC emissions. 

HFCs, factory-made gases used in air conditioning and refrigeration, are one of the strongest greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and are up to 10,000 times more potent than carbon dioxide.  Unless we act now, U.S. HFC emissions are expected to nearly double by 2020 and triple by 2030.  When the President launched his Climate Action Plan last year, he pledged to leverage new opportunities to reduce HFCs. U.S. industry is leading the way in helping fulfill that pledge by investing millions of dollars to develop and deploy the next generation of safer HFC alternatives, and by incorporating climate-friendly technologies into the cars, air conditioners, refrigerators, foams and other products they manufacture and use.

Today’s commitments and actions demonstrate significant U.S. leadership in advance of the United Nations Climate Summit next week and build on progress made earlier in the Administration. This summer, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed two new rules under the Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) program that would smooth transition to climate-friendly alternatives to HFCs, including by expanding the list of acceptable alternatives and limiting use of some of the most harmful HFCs where lower risk alternatives are available. And on the international stage, the U.S. and China agreed last year to work together to phase down the consumption and production of HFCs, and G-20 leaders followed by expressing their own support for an HFC phase down. Today’s actions will build momentum for an amendment to the Montreal Protocol to phase down the global production and consumption of HFCs, which could result in avoided emissions of as much as 240 million metric tons carbon dioxide equivalent in 2025 in the United States alone, roughly 4% of current U.S. greenhouse emissions. The Montreal Protocol is a landmark global agreement that came into effect 27 years ago today that allows for such a phase down. The President will continue to leverage opportunities for U.S. leadership in cutting the drivers of climate change and helping leave behind a safer and healthier world.

Private Sector Commitments

The commitments announced today span the entire HFC supply chain – from where the chemicals are produced, to where they are used in manufacturing, to where consumers see them in stores – demonstrating that every component of American industry is responding to the President’s call to action on HFC emissions reduction. These industry associations and companies are making significant commitments to phase out or phase down their use of HFCs and transition to climate-friendly alternatives that are good for the environment and good for business. The Administration will continue to engage with the private sector on their progress on this initiative.  

The Alliance for Responsible Atmospheric Policy, an industry coalition representing more than 95 percent of U.S. HFC production and a significant majority of the user industries, is announcing actions today that support a Montreal Protocol amendment to phase down the production and consumption of HFCs. The Alliance also announced today that it commits to take actions and support policies with a goal to reduce global HFC greenhouse gas contribution by 80% by 2050 relative to current emissions.  This will be accomplished by advancing technologies; improving servicing practices; increasing recovery, reclamation, and reuse; and conducting technology assessments and workshops.

Air Conditioning Heating & Refrigeration Institute, an industry association representing 90% of US air conditioning manufacturing and 70% of the global industry, announced today that its member companies will commit to spending $5 billion in new R&D and capital expenditures to develop and commercialize low global warming potential (GWP) technologies over the next ten years. During the past decade, the Institute has worked diligently to reduce the potential impact of refrigerants on the Earth’s climate, including spending close to $2 billion since 2009 researching low-GWP refrigerants and technologies. 

Arkema, a diversified worldwide manufacturer of specialty industrial chemicals and high performance materials for use in renewable energies and other sectors, announced today that it is committed to the development of climate-friendly products to provide a timely and adequate global supply base. Arkema commits to reduce GHG emissions from its operations by an additional 30% by 2020, as well as its net energy purchases by 1.5% on average each year through the year 2020.  Finally, Arkema agrees to control, and to the extent feasible, eliminate byproduct emissions of HFC-23, the most potent HFC, at all its fluorochemical production facilities worldwide.

Coca-Cola, the world’s largest beverage company, has set a goal for 100 percent of its newly purchased cold drink equipment to be HFC-free. To date, Coca-Cola has more than 1 million units of HFC-free refrigerated equipment in use throughout its global system, achieving 30% use of HFC-free refrigeration equipment this year. In the U.S., Coca-Cola has already purchased 20,000 HFC-free units in 2014. The company is also increasing the energy efficiency of its refrigeration equipment, which has improved by more than 50 percent since 2000.

Carrier, a global manufacturer and distributor of high-technology heating, air conditioning and refrigeration solutions and part of United Technologies Corp., announced today its commitment to pursue the commercialization of HFC-free refrigerants in road transportation refrigeration by 2020, building on its expertise with HFC-free carbon dioxide refrigerant in marine container and food retail refrigeration. Carrier’s Syracuse, New York facility developed the world’s first carbon dioxide technology for marine container refrigeration and is pursuing similar technology for road transport refrigeration. Carrier’s CO2OLtec commercial refrigeration systems using carbon dioxide refrigerant are installed in nearly 1,000 supermarkets across Europe.

Danfoss, an international manufacturer of high efficiency products used in air-conditioning and refrigeration systems, announced today that it is championing a stakeholder task force to accelerate adoption of standards and building codes for next generation, low-GWP refrigerants. Danfoss will partner with the Alliance for Responsible Atmospheric Policy to establish this task force.

DuPont, the science company that invented fluorinated refrigerants and has helped lead the global transition to continually more sustainable refrigerants, announced today that its new products are anticipated to reduce greenhouse gas content of refrigerants by some 90 million tons carbon dioxide equivalent in the U.S., and 245 million tons worldwide by 2025, reducing greenhouse gases by a similar amount.  This includes five products already in the market or soon to be introduced that provide alternatives in applications as varied as insulating foam production, commercial and retail refrigeration, automobile and building air conditioning, refrigerated transport, and industrial energy efficiency.

Emerson Climate Technologies, a global manufacturing and technology company in the heating, air conditioning and refrigeration industry, today announces its 2015 environmental stewardship initiatives, reinforcing its commitment to the development of low-GWP refrigerants and higher efficiency technologies. Emerson will launch a full line of compressors, flow and electronic controls approved with three non-flammable low-GWP HFCs. These refrigerants are 50 percent lower in GWP compared to today’s choices. Emerson will also expand its full line of Scroll compressors for commercial refrigeration use in supermarkets and convenience stores that will be 15 percent more efficient than today’s products. In July 2015, Emerson will expand its solutions offering for use with carbon dioxide, a non-HFC and energy-efficient refrigerant, with its complete line of compressors, flow controls, discrete and system electronic controls.  Emerson invests nearly two-thirds of its global R&D resources on developing low-GWP and energy efficient products, solutions and services, and will continue increasing its investment in 2015 with the opening of its new global innovation center in Dayton, Ohio. The center will focus on ways to solve energy and environmental challenges affecting everything from homes to data centers.

Goodman Manufacturing Company, an air conditioning and heating equipment manufacturer, announced today its commitment to have a full product line of low-GWP air conditioners and/or heat pumps after completion of working with EPA and other stakeholders to permit low-GWP refrigerants in both building codes and EPA’s SNAP program.

Hillphoenix, a Dover Company and manufacturer of commercial refrigerated display cases and specialty products, refrigeration systems, integrated power distribution systems and walk-in coolers and freezers, announced today that it is commercializing a 100% HFC-free, carbon dioxide booster system now commercially viable for all climate regions. Hillphoenix is also introducing an HFC-free hydrocarbon self-contained door case and a recently re-engineered service called “Close the Case” that utilizes the company’s door technology to retrofit existing open display cases.

Honeywell, a global technology and manufacturing company, serving customers worldwide with aerospace products and services; control technologies for buildings, homes, and industry; turbochargers; and performance materials, plans to transition the majority of its high-GWP HFC production to new low-GWP production. These changes will reduce Honeywell’s annual production of high-GWP HFCs by nearly 50 percent on a carbon dioxide equivalent basis prior to 2020, with a cumulative elimination of more than 350 million metric tons carbon dioxide equivalent by 2025. To achieve this goal, Honeywell anticipates spending a total of more than $880 million for research and development and new capacity, mainly in the United States. Honeywell has commercialized a wide range of Solstice®-brand HFC replacements for use as refrigerants, insulating agents, aerosols, and solvents, which are being rapidly adopted. Honeywell also announced today the start-up of two new Solstice production plants in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to manufacture these materials. Honeywell also agrees to strictly control and, to the extent feasible, eliminate byproduct emissions of HFC-23, the most potent HFC, at Honeywell fluorochemical production facilities.

Johnson Controls, a global multi-industrial company, announced today that it commits to using the lowest GWP option for each application that best fits the needs of its customers from the standpoint of safety, efficiency, reliability, availability, and economy. Johnson Controls also commits to spend $50 million over the next three years to develop new products and improve and expand its existing low-GWP portfolio, of which a significant portion of that investment will address products that traditionally use HFC refrigerants.  The company has spent more than $26 million over the past three years in the development of low-GWP technologies.

Kroger, one of the world’s largest retailers, announced today that it will join U.S. EPA’s GreenChill program. Kroger, in joining GreenChill, commits to establishing a refrigerant inventory and set emissions reduction targets; using advanced refrigeration technologies in new and remodeled stores where feasible; collaborating across the industry to identify and share service and operational practices that reduce emissions. Kroger is committed to reducing climate-damaging refrigerant emissions and exploring new designs that reduce the potential for these emissions.

Lapolla, a manufacturer and global distributor of spray foam insulation and reflective roof coating technology, announced today that it commits to transitioning its entire product line of foam and coating systems to no longer use high-GWP HFCs by 2016. Lapolla will also provide more than 18 seminars on the importance of eliminating high-GWP HFCs from the environment. 

Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP), the largest municipal utility in the U.S.,  plans to include a criterion for low-GWP HFCs in its energy efficiency incentives for residential refrigerators, which would begin the market transformation to phase down high-GWP HFC use by sending the right signal to both manufacturers and consumers. Combating climate change is a top priority for LADWP, which has recently adopted an aggressive new energy efficiency goal to supply 15% of expected power needs in 2020 through energy efficiency, and has also committed to eliminate coal fired generation from its electricity supply by 2025, two years ahead of California mandates.

Mission Pharmacal, a third-generation, family-owned and operated healthcare company whose focus is to bring safe, innovative and high-quality products to physicians, patients and consumers, announced today the introduction of a Dr. Smith’s® zinc oxide diaper rash spray that uses a new low-GWP aerosol technology. Mission Pharmacal is also announcing the introduction of a rash and skin spray and an adult barrier spray that utilize the same technology. Mission Pharmacal commits to continued development of aerosol products that help curb emissions of HFCs.

PepsiCo, one of the world’s largest food and beverage companies, announced today a goal that all of its future point of sale equipment (coolers, vending machines and fountain dispensers) purchased in the United States, will be HFC-free by 2020.  To meet this goal, PepsiCo will begin purchasing new HFC-free equipment starting in 2015.  Outside of the United States, PepsiCo has already begun this process by buying more than 290,000 HFC-free pieces of equipment since 2009.  To minimize the impact of existing equipment, PepsiCo has innovated its coolers and vending machines to improve their energy efficiency by 60% compared with a 2004 baseline and since 2010 has been using a 100% HFC-free insulation/foam for all new equipment. PepsiCo reports that the new insulation/foam eliminates 75% of HFC based direct emissions and that these combined efforts have reduced total GHG emissions by 18% since 2007.

Red Bull, the creator of the energy drink category, announced today that it will order an estimated 32,000 climate-friendly hydrocarbon coolers for 2015. Red Bull will also implement ongoing training of cooler service technicians from six partner companies for the repair and proper disposal of these coolers. Red Bull has committed to 100% procurement of ECO-Coolers for the cooling of its beverages where technically and legally feasible. Red Bull’s ECO Coolers use up to 45% less energy than previous generations of cooling equipment and have an average energy saving of 23% compared to other conventional refrigerators.

SEVO Systems, a global manufacturer of non-HFC fire system technology advancement, announced today that it commits to enabling a reduction of the equivalent of 12 million metric tons of carbon dioxide by 2020 by transitioning to low-GWP HFCs. This technology will be released using innovative fire suppression systems utilizing the unique properties of 3M™ Novec™ 1230 Fire Protection Fluid.

Target, an upscale discount retailer with approximately 1775 stores in the US, recently opened two new cold storage facilities expanding its refrigerated warehouse space by nearly one million square feet. These new facilities, designed with ammonia, an HFC-free refrigerant, also eliminate the use of HFC refrigerants in their heating, ventilating, and air conditioning systems and reduce their carbon impact by 900 metric tons of CO2. The company also has five stores that use carbon dioxide refrigeration systems and commits to expanding this technology to two additional sites in 2015. Target is also partnering with chemical producers to test a new generation of refrigerants, hydrofluoroolefins (HFOs) that do not affect the ozone layer and have at least a 60% lower GWP than the products they are replacing.  In addition, Target is working with the manufacturer of beverage coolers to test HFC-free solutions this fall.

Thermo King, a brand of Ingersoll Rand that manufactures transport temperature control systems, is announcing that it will offer its customers safe, reliable, and energy efficient product alternatives and retrofit services for marine, truck and trailer applications using a refrigerant with about half the GWP compared to what is currently used. These new offerings will be available in 2015-2016 in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, and to the United States upon EPA approval of the alternative refrigerant. Thermo King reports that this alternative would avoid the equivalent of approximately 1.6 million metric tons of carbon dioxide in the US by 2020.

True Manufacturing, the largest manufacturer of self-contained commercial refrigeration in the nation, announced today that it commits to using only climate-friendly, low-GWP refrigerants and low-GWP blowing agents, in all future general use and refrigeration product development. Over the next five years True Manufacturing will develop low-GWP replacements for its existing products. True Manufacturing reports that these improvements will reduce emissions of climate-damaging HFCs by more than 200,000 million metric tons of CO2 equivalent.

New Executive Actions

The Administration’s new actions will help promote the use of safer alternatives to HFCs and encourage the development of new technologies.

Promote the use of safer alternatives to HFCs in the Federal Government

Updating regulations for service and vendor contractors: The President has already directed Federal agencies to purchase safer and cleaner alternatives to HFCs whenever feasible and to transition to equipment that uses safer and more sustainable alternatives. Federal purchasers can enhance efforts to achieve this goal by procuring climate-friendly HFC alternatives, primarily in refrigeration and air conditioning equipment in Federal buildings. Today, the Administration will begin the formal process of reviewing revisions to Federal acquisition regulations to promote the use of safer chemical alternatives to HFCs by service and vendor contractors. To help agencies monitor progress, contractors will be asked to keep track of and report on the amounts of HFCs added or removed during routine maintenance, repair or disposal of any government equipment, appliances or supplies.

Evaluating sustainable technologies in Federal buildings: As part of its Green Proving Ground (GPG) program, the U.S. General Services Administration is inviting technology manufacturers and industry stakeholders, including those that offer HFC alternatives, to submit information on innovative and transformational building technologies that can be used in Federal buildings. Technologies selected by the program, which conducts real-world evaluations of the performance of emerging building technologies to recommend deployment strategies towards achieving ambitious sustainability goals, will be matched with Federally-owned buildings to pilot measurement and verification by objective third-party evaluators. Results from these evaluations will inform public- and private-sector investment decisions, and will help accelerate commercialization and adoption within the Federal Government and the real estate industry.

Encourage private sector investment in low-emissions technology:

Driving the Market Towards Innovative Climate-Friendly HFC Alternatives: EPA will continue to expand the list of climate-friendly alternatives to both ozone-depleting substances and high-GWP HFCs, and is currently working on its next listing notice under the Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) program, including both fluorinated and non-fluorinated alternatives that can be used in important sectors.

Organizing Sector Workshops:  EPA and the Alliance for Responsible Atmospheric Policy will work with other interested governments, international agencies, private sector organizations and civil society to organize a series of sector-specific workshops. These workshops will provide an opportunity to share information on technologies, policies, and standards, will address the technical aspects of transition, including barriers that slow the uptake of alternatives, and will also include information on policy initiatives.

Engaging Stakeholders on Refrigerant Management Regulations: EPA received a petition from the Alliance for Responsible Atmospheric Policy to create consistent refrigerant management regulations by applying the same rules that already exist for ozone-depleting refrigerants to HFCs. EPA recognizes that refrigerant management is an important way to reduce climate-damaging emissions from equipment used for air-conditioning and refrigeration, and will engage with stakeholders as it explores options for addressing the petition.

Invest in new technologies to support safer alternatives to HFCs:

Funding Opportunities for HFC Alternatives:  Today, the Department of Energy is announcing new funding for the research and development of technologies and approaches that lead to energy reductions in U.S. buildings. The funding will encourage next generation, efficient cooling technologies, including examining HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) technologies that use alternative refrigerants and those that move beyond using refrigerants altogether. These technologies also have the potential to improve the efficiencies of other building equipment that rely on heat-pumping technologies (e.g., water heaters, refrigerators), in addition to HVAC equipment. This funding will accelerate the development of near-term technologies that have the potential to save significant amounts of energy while also accelerating the development of the next generation of technologies that have the potential of “leapfrogging” existing technologies by pursuing entirely new approaches. 

President Obama Speaks at the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention

Barack Obama's White House Presidential Office (D) posted a Video (YouTube) on September 16, 2014 | 9:34 am - Original Item - Comments (View)
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Vice President Biden Speaks at the Legal Services Corporation 40th Anniversary Conference

Barack Obama's White House Presidential Office (D) posted a Video (YouTube) on September 16, 2014 | 9:29 am - Original Item - Comments (View)
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FACT SHEET: U.S. Response to the Ebola Epidemic in West Africa

Barack Obama's White House Presidential Office (D) posted a Press Release on September 16, 2014 | 6:15 am - Original Item - Comments (View)

 

As the President has stated, the Ebola epidemic in West Africa and the humanitarian crisis there is a top national security priority for the United States.  In order to contain and combat it, we are partnering with the United Nations and other international partners to help the Governments of Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, and Senegal respond just as we fortify our defenses at home. Every outbreak of Ebola over the past 40 years has been contained, and we are confident that this one can—and will be—as well.

Our strategy is predicated on four key goals:

  • Controlling the epidemic at its source in West Africa;
  • Mitigating second-order impacts, including blunting the economic, social, and political tolls in the region;
  • Engaging and coordinating with a broader global audience; and,
  • Fortifying global health security infrastructure in the region and beyond.

The United States has applied a whole-of-government response to the epidemic, which we launched shortly after the first cases were reported in March. As part of this, we have dedicated additional resources across the federal government to address the crisis, committing more than $175 million to date. We continue to work with Congress to provide additional resources through appropriations and reprogramming efforts in order to be responsive to evolving resource needs on the ground.  Just as the outbreak has worsened, our response will be commensurate with the challenge.

New Resources to Confront a Growing Challenge

The United States will leverage the unique capabilities of the U.S. military and broader uniformed services to help bring the epidemic under control. These efforts will entail command and control, logistics expertise, training, and engineering support.

  • U.S. Africa Command will set up a Joint Force Command headquartered in Monrovia, Liberia, to provide regional command and control support to U.S. military activities and facilitate coordination with U.S. government and international relief efforts. A general from U.S. Army Africa, the Army component of U.S. Africa Command, will lead this effort, which will involve an estimated 3,000 U.S. forces.

 

  •  U.S. Africa Command will establish a regional intermediate staging base (ISB) to facilitate and expedite the transportation of equipment, supplies and personnel. Of the U.S. forces taking part in this response, many will be stationed at the ISB.

 

  • Command engineers will build additional Ebola Treatment Units in affected areas, and the U.S. Government will help recruit and organize medical personnel to staff them.

 

  • Additionally, the Command will establish a site to train up to 500 health care providers per week, enabling healthcare workers to safely provide direct medical care to patients.

 

  • The United States Public Health Service Commissioned Corps is preparing to deploy 65 Commissioned Corps officers to Liberia to manage and staff a previously announced Department of Defense (DoD) hospital to care for healthcare workers who become ill. The deployment roster will consist of administrators, clinicians, and support staff.

 

Simple and scalable strategies that complement the use of Ebola Treatment Units are urgently required to disrupt the disease’s transmission. A community- and home-based strategy that supports household and communities is a critical step to moving forward:

  • USAID is supporting a Community Care Campaign, which will provide communities and households with protection kits, appropriate information and training on how to protect themselves and their loved ones. In partnership with the United Nations Children Fund, the Paul Allen Family Foundation, and other key partners, we will immediately target the 400,000 most vulnerable households in Liberia. The package will subsequently be scaled to cover the country and the broader region.

 

  • As part of this effort, this week, USAID will airlift 50,000 home health care kits from Denmark to Liberia to be hand-delivered to distant communities by trained youth volunteers.

 

A Complement to Efforts To-Date

Applying this whole-of-government approach, we have been engaged on this outbreak since March when the first cases were reported in West Africa. We currently have in the affected countries more than 100 specialists from multiple U.S. departments and agencies, including the Departments of State and Health and Human Services (HHS), the CDC, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and DoD. We also are working intensively on this effort with the United Nations, including the World Health Organization, the governments of the affected countries, and other partners, including the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Norway, the Africa Union, and European Union.

  • To date we have spent more than $100 million to address this challenge, including the purchase of personal protective equipment, mobile labs, logistics and relief commodities, and support for community health workers. USAID also has announced plans to make available up to $75 million in additional funding to increase the number of Ebola treatment units, provide more personal protective equipment, airlift additional medical and emergency supplies, and support other Ebola response activities in collaboration with the UN, including the World Health Organization, and international partners.

 

  • CDC has provided on the ground expertise in the largest international response in its history. More than 100 CDC personnel are on the ground in West Africa, and hundreds of personnel at their Emergency Operations Center in Atlanta have provided around the clock logistics, staffing, communication, analytics, management, and other support functions. The Administration has asked Congress for an additional $30 million to send additional response workers from the CDC as well as lab supplies and equipment.

 

  • In August, USAID deployed a Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) to West Africa to coordinate and prioritize the U.S. government’s response to the outbreak. The DART assesses and identifies priority needs and coordinates key areas of the response, such as planning, operations, and logistics. The 28-member DART team is comprised of staff from USAID, CDC, DoD, and the U.S. Forest Service. The DART will be airlifting 130,000 sets of personal protective equipment to ensure that health care workers have the resources needed to safely do their jobs. The DART is also in the process of procuring generators that will provide electricity to Ebola treatment units and other response facilities.

 

  • The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is developing an investigational Ebola vaccine, including recently starting phase 1 clinical trials, as well as supporting efforts to develop additional Ebola antivirals and therapeutics candidates. The Administration has asked Congress for an additional $58 million to support the development and manufacturing of Ebola therapeutic and vaccine candidates through Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority.

 

  • In addition to the measures announced today, DoD plans to send a field-deployable hospital to Liberia and has provided more than 10,000 Ebola test kits to the Liberian Institute of Biological Research and to Sierra Leone's Kenema Government Hospital. DoD also has provided personal protective equipment and training to local medical professionals in affected regions.

 

  • DoD also has requested to reprogram $500 million in Fiscal Year 2014 Overseas Contingency Operations funds for humanitarian assistance, a portion of which will be used to fulfill requirements identified by CDC, USAID, the Joint Staff, and U.S. Africa Command to provide military air transportation of DoD and non-DoD personnel and supplies; medical treatment facilities (e.g. isolation units), personnel protective equipment, and medical supplies; logistics and engineering support, and; subject matter experts in support of sanitation and mortuary affairs.

 

  • DoD’s Cooperative Threat Reduction program is redirecting $25 million to provide personal protective equipment and laboratory reagents, support for technical advisors, and other requests as validated by the DART. DoD has also requested to reprogram an additional $60 million to enable the CTR program to address urgent biosafety, biosecurity, and biosurveillance needs in the three countries most affected by the Ebola outbreak, as well as bolster the capabilities of neighboring countries and other partners in Africa.

 

  • Last month, USAID airlifted more than 16 tons of medical supplies and emergency equipment to Liberia, including: 10,000 sets of personal protective equipment, two water treatment units and two portable water tanks capable of storing 10,000 liters each, and 100 rolls of plastic sheeting which can be used in the construction of Ebola treatment units. Additionally, in late August the DART airlifted 5,000 body bags to step up support for the safe removal and transport of the bodies of Ebola victims and 500 infrared thermometers to bolster Ebola screening efforts. These supplies will be distributed and used by the WHO and Liberian Ministry of Health and Social Welfare.

 

  • USAID and the State Department are providing up to $10 million to support the deployment of an African Union mission sending more than 100 health care workers to the region. The State Department also has encouraged other governments to increase assistance; coordinate delivery of critical resources, including personnel, equipment, and medical supplies; and encourage airlines operating in the region to maintain or reinstate service while ensuring appropriate precautions.

 

  • Additionally, the State Department has supported public education efforts in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea regarding prevention and treatment of the disease.  The effort has included radio and television messages in local languages, the production of nearly 100 billboards and thousands of posters, program support to local non-governmental organizations and a special song commissioned by a popular local musician.

 

  • Earlier this month, President Obama released a message to the people of West Africa to reinforce the facts and dispel myths surrounding Ebola. The video was transcribed into French, Portuguese, and other local languages and was distributed to television and radio stations across the region. Tens of thousands of West Africans viewed or listened to the message.

Screening Efforts Overseas

In addition to our efforts to help the affected West African countries bring this outbreak under control, we have taken steps to fortify against the introduction of Ebola cases into the United States. It is important to note that Ebola is not highly contagious like the flu; to the contrary, the virus is spread through direct contact with the blood or body fluids of a symptomatic individual.

  • CDC is working closely with Customs and Border Protection and other partners at ports of entry—primarily international airports—to use routine processes to identify travelers who show signs of infectious disease. In response to the outbreak, these processes have been enhanced through guidance and training. If a sick traveler is identified during or after a flight, the traveler will be immediately isolated, and CDC will conduct an investigation of exposed travelers and work with the airline, federal partners, and state and local health departments to notify them and take any necessary public health action. 

 

  • CDC is assisting with exit screening and communication efforts in West Africa to prevent sick travelers from boarding planes. It also has issued interim guidance about Ebola virus infection for airline flight crews, cleaning personnel, and cargo personnel.

 

  • CDC also has issued advice for colleges, universities, and students about study abroad, foreign exchange, and other education-related travel, as well as advice for students who have recently traveled from a country in which an Ebola outbreak is occurring. Similarly, CDC has developed recommendations for humanitarian aid workers traveling to Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone during the Ebola outbreaks in these countries. The recommendations include steps to take before departure, during travel, and upon return to the United States.

Preparedness at Home

Despite the tragic epidemic in West Africa, U.S. health professionals agree it is highly unlikely that we would experience an Ebola outbreak here in the United States, given our robust health care infrastructure and rapid response capabilities. Nevertheless, we have taken extra measures to prevent the unintentional importation of cases into the United States, and if a patient does make it here, our national health system has the capacity and expertise to quickly detect and contain this disease.

  • CDC has worked to enhance surveillance and laboratory testing capacity in states to detect cases and improve case finding. CDC is developing guidance and tools for health departments to conduct public health investigations and improve health communication and continues to update recommendations for healthcare infection control and other measures to prevent the disease from spreading. Similarly, HHS’ Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response and CDC are providing guidance documents to hospitals and other health care partners to support preparedness for a possible Ebola case. 

 

  • CDC also has prepared U.S. healthcare facilities and emergency medical service systems to safely manage a patient with suspected Ebola virus disease. CDC communicates with healthcare workers on an ongoing basis through the Health Alert Network, the Clinician Outreach and Communication Activity, and a variety of other existing tools and mechanisms.  CDC developed Interim Guidance for Monitoring and Movement of Persons with Ebola Virus Disease Exposure to provide public health authorities and other partners with a framework for evaluating people’s level of exposure to Ebola and initiating appropriate public health actions on the basis of exposure level and clinical assessment.

 

  • The Food and Drug Administration is monitoring for fraudulent products and false product claims related to the Ebola virus and is prepared to take enforcement actions, as warranted, to protect the public health.

Securing the Future

The Ebola epidemic reminds us that our global efforts to build the capacity to prevent, detect, and rapidly respond to infectious disease threats like Ebola have never been more vital.  In February, we came together with nations around the world to launch the Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA) as a five year effort to accelerate action.

  • CDC is contributing to the GHSA by partnering with nations around the world to help them establish measurable global health security capacity. This includes core CDC partnership programs like the Global Disease Detection Centers and Field Epidemiology Training Program, which enable the laboratory systems, disease surveillance workforce, emergency operations center capacity, and biosafety and biosecurity best practices required to counter Ebola and other biological threats.

 

  • Over the next five years the United States has committed to working with at least 30 partner countries to invest in model systems to advance the Global Health Security agenda. CDC and DoD will work with other U.S. agencies and partner countries to establish emergency operations centers, build information systems, and strengthen laboratory security to mitigate biological threats and build partner capacity.    

 

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A Look Back at Lehman Brothers and Where We Stand Six Years After the Financial Crisis

Barack Obama's White House Presidential Office (D) posted a Blog Post on September 15, 2014 | 6:24 pm - Original Item - Comments (View)

September 15, 2008 -- a day that rocked the American economy to its core after Lehman Brothers, then one of the nation’s largest investment banks, filed for bankruptcy. The largest filing in history, Lehman Brothers’ bankruptcy sent shockwaves through the global markets and left families and businesses reeling.

In the months before the President took office, Americans watched as the private-sector cut 800,000 jobs a month, the housing market cratered, and the American auto industry threatened to collapse. That economic turmoil -- the severity of the challenges we faced in 2008 -- stand in stark contrast to where we are now, six years after the Great Recession.  Now, thanks to American workers and businessmen and women, our economy has added 10 million jobs and is growing stronger by almost every economic measure.

While there is more work to do to keep our economy moving forward, take a look back with White House Administration officials who shared the critical moment and key decisions the President made in three different areas of the economy to get us to where we are today. Then slide across the charts to see how far we’ve come in the last six years.

"The Epicenter of That Crisis": The Housing Market

The collapse of the housing market sparked the Great Recession, driving down home prices, halting construction on new homes, and forcing millions of families into foreclosure.

Listen as Shaun Donovan, former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, describe how they created “most comprehensive, aggressive housing strategy that the country has ever seen” within the first few weeks of the Obama administration. There’s much more work to do but now, home prices are rising at a fast pace and homebuilders are breaking ground on 50,000 more homes each month than they were in 2009.

 
 
 

"The People Who Took the Biggest Hit": American Consumers

The economic volatility of the Great Recession hit consumers especially hard and, with a dearth of key consumer protections, Americans were forced to spend much more conservatively.

Listen to Amy Brundage, Deputy Director of Communications, explain how President Obama created the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau – an independent agency to help protect consumers when they’re applying for a mortgage, choosing among credit cards, or using any other consumer financial product. Now, as the economy continues to grow stronger, American consumers are confidently spending $170 billion more each month than they were when the President took office.

 
 
 

"What Needed to Be Done": American Businesses

During the recession, the amount of American exports that our companies sold abroad fell by billions.  

Last year, Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker reflected on how President Obama sought to restore confidence in the markets and stabilize the economy. Listen to her explain how the Obama Administration is focusing on expanding trade and increasing how much businesses sell in the global market. Now, under President Obama, our businesses are selling $70 billion more overseas each month than they were during the Great Recession.

 
 
 

There is more to do to ensure our economy continues to grow. That is why President Obama is taking action to invest in manufacturing, energy, and infrastructure and to improve the financial security of working families and the middle class. Learn more about what the President is doing this year here: www.whitehouse.gov/year-of-action.

You can listen to other Administration officials reflect on the financial crisis here.

 

 

 

 

 

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9/15/14: White House Press Briefing

Barack Obama's White House Presidential Office (D) posted a Video (YouTube) on September 15, 2014 | 6:16 pm - Original Item - Comments (View)
White House Press Briefings are conducted most weekdays from the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room in the West Wing.
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Opening the People's House

Barack Obama's White House Presidential Office (D) posted a Blog Post on September 15, 2014 | 5:20 pm - Original Item - Comments (View)
First Lady Michelle Obama Shakes Hands with White House Visitors

First Lady Michelle Obama greets members of the general public as they enter the Blue Room during their White House tour, Feb. 16, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

The White House is known as “The People’s House” — and since 2009, the Obama administration has made that nickname truer than ever before for millions of guests by opening the White House to as many Americans as possible.

With the new White House Visitor Center opening up, we want to remind you of the ways you can visit "The People's House" from Washington, D.C. or from the comfort of your home.

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President Obama Awards the Medal of Honor

Barack Obama's White House Presidential Office (D) posted a Video (YouTube) on September 15, 2014 | 5:08 pm - Original Item - Comments (View)
In a ceremony at the White House on September 15, 2014, President Obama presented the Medal of Honor to Command Sergeant Major Bennie G. Adkins and Specialist Four Donald Sloat.
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Our Comprehensive Response at the Border, By the Numbers

Barack Obama's White House Presidential Office (D) posted a Blog Post on September 15, 2014 | 4:51 pm - Original Item - Comments (View)

Our border has been and remains more secure than it has been in decades. Earlier this year, we saw an influx of Central American migrants including unaccompanied children and adults with children in one isolated area of our border, the Rio Grande Valley in Texas but the Administration took decisive action and the situation is improving.

The President and his Administration responded with an aggressive, coordinated Federal response focused on stepped up deterrence, enhanced enforcement, stronger foreign cooperation, and greater capacity for affected Federal agencies to ensure that our border remained secure. As a result, and as Secretary Jeh Johnson reported last week, the number of Central American migrants trying to illegally cross the Southwest border continues to decline including unaccompanied children and families.

This is good news. We are not declaring victory, and we aren’t going to take our foot off the gas; U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) remains prepared. We will remain vigilant and continue to aggressively work to deter future increases and address the influx on both sides of the border with our Central American partners.

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