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U.S. EPA honors three Arizona environmental heroes

Release Date: 04/14/2008
Contact Information: Wendy Chavez, 415/947-4248, chavez.wendy@epa.gov

(04/14/08) SAN FRANCISCO -- During the agency's 10th annual Environmental Awards Ceremony in San Francisco today, U.S. EPA Regional Administrator Wayne Nastri presented plaques to three organizations throughout Arizona in recognition of their efforts to protect and preserve the environment in 2007.

“The EPA is pleased and honored to acknowledge the innovative and far-reaching environmental work achieved by this impressive group of organizations and individuals. They set an example for all of us to follow,” Nastri said. “All of this year's winners -- in fact, all of this year's nominees -- have made commendable efforts to protect and preserve our air, water and land or increased our awareness of the environmental challenges we face.”

The Region 9 Environmental Awards program acknowledges commitment and significant contributions to the environment in California, Arizona, Nevada, Hawaii, Pacific Islands and tribal lands. Twenty nine groups and individuals were selected from over 130 nominees received this year from businesses, local, government officials, tribes, media, environmental organizations and citizen activists.

This year's winners include a family farmer growing pumpkins and other crops along the coast in Half Moon Bay who is a leader in promoting sustainable erosion control, water conservation and integrated pest management at the local, state and national level, engineering students who designed and built a self-sufficient, attractive and affordable solar-powered home, which won 3rd place at an international competition, a “no pigs left behind” program where educational outreach and inspections resulted in reducing 11,000 pounds of nitrogen, 4,000 pounds of phosphorus, and 90 percent of bacterial contamination in nearby waterways, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District that developed an innovative, first-in-the-nation $3 million climate protection grant program to encourage Bay area local governments and nonprofits to implement projects to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and an outreach campaign that aims to educate teens about the chemicals in body care products, such as cosmetics, shampoos and lotions;

The Arizona winners and basis for recognition are:

Underground Storage Tanks Assistance Program to Arizona Schools
Arizona Department of Environmental Quality
Phoenix, AZ

Underground storage tanks pose both an environmental and health threat and are often found near schools, where children can be exposed to harmful chemicals. Arizona Department of Environmental Quality partnered with rural schools and school districts throughout the state of Arizona to clean up contamination on school properties caused by underground storage tanks. ADEQ visits these schools, providing outreach and technical assistance to determine whether or not students, teachers and staff have been exposed to fuel and other chemical leaks. The outreach has been so successful that it is being expanded to address water and air quality issues.

Chairwoman Rita A. Wilson
Sif Oidak District, Tohono O'odham Nation
Casa Grande, AZ

The Tohono O’odham Nation worked closely with the EPA and industry to successfully clean up and restore valuable tribal natural resources. The nation worked with the Department of Interior to complete a natural resources damage assessment involving groundwater contamination and migratory bird mortalities. In addition to the assessment, the tribe worked with the EPA and the mining industry to remove 616,059 cubic yards of mine tailings from surface waters. The efforts and coordination of the nation and Sif Oidak District have been instrumental in removing both the source of the groundwater contamination and bird mortalities, and restoring tribal natural resources.

Gila River Indian Community
Department of Environmental Quality
Sacaton, AZ

The Gila River Indian Community’s Department of Environmental Quality prepared the most comprehensive tribal air quality program in the country. The tribe developed an air monitoring program, an emissions inventory and adopted the national air quality standards as its own. The tribe adopted general regulations to address numerous concerns, including visible emissions, VOC use and fugitive dust. The Environmental Department also developed a permitting program that will be part of the tribe’s clean air plan. The development of the tribe's program was a model process that engaged stakeholders in the regulatory process.

For the complete list of winners, visit: http://www.epa.gov/region09/awards

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