Denver — The International Erosion Control Association Region One (IECA) announced its keynote speakers for Environmental Connection 2017 — IECA’s Annual Conference for the erosion, sediment control and stormwater industry, taking place Feb. 21-24, 2017 in Atlanta. Joining Environmental Connection 2017 as opening keynote speaker is Jim Cantore, world renowned meteorologist with the Weather Channel; the first-ever closing keynote speaker is Craig Zeller, P.E., Senior Regional Project Manager with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Cantore, one of the most recognized faces in weather, will discuss changes in weather patterns, predictions for the future and how these changes will affect our industry. What can we do today to prepare for the weather changes over the next 50 years? Cantore will lend his insights on how our industry can prepare for the future in weather.

Known for his live reports from severe weather events, Cantore embodies the passion and knowledge of The Weather Channel. He has covered every major weather event of the past 30 years, including Hurricanes Katrina and Irene and Superstorm Sandy, solidifying his role and the role of The Weather Channel as the leading source for severe weather coverage. Cantore is well known for his animated, tenacious style, both in the field and in the studio.

When not in the field, he covers the latest forecast and weather news on “AMHQ,” weekdays from 6-9 a.m. ET. He is also a frequent contributor to NBC programs such as “Nightly News with Lester Holt” and “TODAY,” as well as for NBC affiliates nationwide and multiple MSNBC shows.

Zeller’s closing keynote presentation will provide attendees a look into his experience as the EPA’s onsite coordinator for the clean-up and recovery efforts of the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) Kingston Fossil Plant environmental disaster in Roane County, Tenn., on Dec. 22, 2008. The failure of an ash dike at the TVA Kingston Fossil Plant caused a monumental catastrophe where approximately 5.4 million cubic yards of coal ash was released over 300 acres that choked the adjacent Emory River, disrupted electrical power, ruptured a natural gas line and water line, and covered a railway and local roadways.

While erosion control is a key component to every environmental clean-up project, it was paramount to the success of the TVA ash recovery project. A range of proven and innovative BMPs were applied to not only mitigate off-site ash transport to receiving waters, but to also prevent dust inhalation by on-site personnel and adjacent communities. Six years and $1.2 billion later, the ash landfill has been successfully closed, and hundreds of acres of habitat have been restored for ecological and recreational use.

Zeller has a been a Superfund Remedial Project Manager in the EPA’s Region 4 area for 25 years; working on the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) issues primarily in the Carolinas and Tennessee. He was promoted to Senior Level Regional Project Manager in 2009 as a result of the $1.2 billion response action associated with the TVA Kingston coal ash recovery project. Zeller possesses significant site experience in contaminated sediments and serves as the Region 4 representative on EPA’s National Contaminated Sediments Technical Advisory Group (CSTAG).

Environmental Connection is a one-of-a-kind professional development opportunity that combines can’t-miss keynote speakers, intense topic and regionally focused educational courses, certification and CEU opportunities, and the industry’s largest and most innovative expo. Conference attendees will connect with thousands of colleagues from more than 25 different countries, internationally renowned instructors, and industry experts for four days of cutting-edge learning, professional development, and networking. To learn more about the conference and to register, visit www.ieca.org/conference. Connect with conference attendees on social media with the hashtag #IECA2017.

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