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EPA Region 2 Administrator Jane M. Kenny Honors Environmental Achievements in New York

Release Date: 04/24/2003
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(#03044) New York, New York -- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 2 Administrator Jane M. Kenny celebrated Earth Day today by presenting twenty awards for outstanding efforts to improve the environment and protect public health in New York. Regional Administrator Kenny presented EPA’s Environmental Quality Awards at a ceremony held today at EPA’s offices in Manhattan. Maria Falcon, the producer of a popular environmental television program in Puerto Rico, also spoke at today’s event.

“The champions we honor today reflect a growing awareness that we have to do all we can to protect our precious environment,” said EPA Region 2 Administrator Jane M. Kenny. “We have some mighty challenges ahead of us. It is tremendously gratifying to know that people like our award winners are working so hard to protect the environment and public health.”

EPA presents the Environmental Quality Awards annually to individuals, nonprofit groups, educators, business representatives, government officials and media representatives from New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands who have made significant contributions to improving the quality of the environment in the region. Winners are chosen by a panel of EPA employees who review nominations submitted from inside and outside the Agency.

The Performance Track program recognizes top environmental performers - companies that voluntarily go beyond compliance with regulatory requirements to attain levels of environmental performance that benefit the environment, people, and communities. The outreach awards recognize members for outstanding public education efforts, encouraging other businesses to join the program and creatives uses of the program logo.

Performance Track Outreach Award

Nucor Steel Auburn
Auburn, New York

Steel manufacturer Nucor Steel Auburn has become one of the strongest advocates of the National Environmental Performance Track, EPA’s program to celebrate and reward environmental high achievers among private and public facilities. Nucor has used the Performance Track logo creatively to promote its participation and the program, has had strategic Performance Track articles placed in industry publications, has helped EPA make contact with key trade organizations in New York and was instrumental in recruiting a new National Network Partner.

2003 Environmental Quality Award Winners in New York

OTHER FEDERAL, STATE AND LOCAL AGENCIES

Craig A. Benedict
U.S. Attorney’s Office - Northern District of New York
Syracuse, New York

Craig Benedict, Assistant United States Attorney, has prosecuted environmental criminals for two decades in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of New York. He has brought many important cases that have yielded significant environmental benefits. When Bristol-Myers pled guilty in 1992 to discharging chemicals into the Onondaga County sewage treatment system, the plea agreement included a requirement to build a pretreatment plant at a cost of up to $30 million. When Iroquois Pipeline Operating Company pled guilty to wetlands violations, the penalty was the largest since the Exxon Valdez settlement and included $2.2 million for a wetlands-restoration fund. In the past four years, he has brought perhaps the most successful, and lengthy, string of asbestos-related prosecutions in the country with 57 defendants charged, convicted or pleading guilty.

Phil DeGaetano
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
Albany, New York

Phil DeGaetano, a winner in 1994, is being recognized this year for his efforts in supporting the regional estuary, freshwater, water quality standards, and total maximum daily loads (TMDL) programs. Mr. DeGaetano has been a willing partner in his nearly three decades with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, ensuring a close working relationship between the two agencies. His recent achievements include overseeing development of a TMDL to control nitrogen to Long Island Sound; approved by EPA in 2001, it is arguably the most complex and expansive in scope developed in the nation to date. Last year under his leadership, DEC signed a consent agreement with the City of New York to undertake major upgrades of four upper East River sewage treatment plants for nitrogen removal – a key part of implementing the Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan for Long Island Sound.

Robert R. Cronin
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
Albany, New York

Bob Cronin entered state government in New York in 1964 and joined the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) when it was established in 1972. Over his career, Mr. Cronin has championed the environment and public health through his leadership of the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) program for compliance monitoring and enforcement. He has been instrumental in developing a process to provide a timely and accurate response to significant noncompliance and in ensuring a strong working relationship between EPA and the DEC. His contributions to wastewater compliance has been significant not only in the State of New York but also in the national arena.

Mark W. Thomas
County Executive, Chautaugua County

Since he became County Executive in 1998, Mr. Thomas has made the cleanup and green-up of the county a top priority. He established a brownfields unit to manage the redevelopment of dormant industrial sites, authorized grants to clean up parks and create new ones, and began an innovative tire recycling program, which cleaned up 500,000 tires and reused them to help build county roads. Through his leadership, a tire amnesty program allowed residents to dispose of tires for free and a junkyard that had been an eyesore for 75 years was cleaned up.

Department of Public Works
City of New Rochelle
City of New Rochelle

With over nine miles of shoreline along the Long Island Sound, the City of New Rochelle created an innovative tidal wetlands restoration project that at Five Islands Park. In order to get the most for their planting money, the city used leaf compost to build up the mud flats. Over 6,000 plants were placed and are being measured annually for five years. Undergraduate students from Iona College are performing the annual plant monitoring. This restored wetlands area will provide educational opportunities to students, habitat for wildlife and help reduce the negative impact of polluted runoff on the Long Island Sound.

INDIVIDUAL CITIZENS

Milton Welt, M.D.
Lions International
Massapequa Park, New York

Milton Welt wanted to do his part to address the problem of global warming. As Environmental Chair for the Nassau County district of the Lions Club in 1973, he developed a program to encourage the planting of new trees. Each year, the Massapequa Lions Club distributes seedling trees through other local Lions Clubs to elementary schools for planting on Arbor Day. Dr. Welt distributed several hundred trees in the first few years, and his club now distributes more than 3,000 annually. Not satisfied with simply acting locally, Dr. Welt hopes to get each of the 44,500 Lions Clubs worldwide to plant 100 trees each year. He authored a resolution endorsing such a plan and has continued to press for its adoption by the organization worldwide. While Lions International has not yet enacted the resolution, he has received support from many local units of the organization, including one in Iceland.

Arnold P. Wendroff, Ph.D.
Brooklyn, New York

While teaching a junior high school special education class in 1989, Dr. Wendroff learned from a student that his mother was in the habit of sprinkling elemental mercury on their apartment floor to ward off witches. He investigated the assertion and learned about the widespread, ritualistic use of mercury in many Caribbean and Hispanic communities – a use that causes exposure to developmentally neurotoxic levels of mercury vapor. Since then he has called upon EPA and other government entities to address the problem. His leading role in the cause is documented in the EPA Task Force on Ritualistic Uses of Mercury Report: “We acknowledge with gratitude the hard work of Dr. Arnold Wendroff of the Mercury Poisoning Project, a tireless advocate for more than a decade, who first brought national attention to this issue; without him this Task Force would not have existed.”

Nicholas DeCarlo
US Postal Service

Mr. Nicholas DeCarlo, an Environmental Specialist for the US Postal Service, is responsible for all energy and environmental issues for the 134 US Postal Service facilities in the Bronx and Manhattan District. Thanks to upgrades at more than 100 of these facilities, the US Postal Service has saved more than $2 million annually on energy costs since 1999. Mr. DeCarlo worked closely with Con Edison Solutions to accomplish these savings, which also helped to significantly reduce pollutant emissions from these facilities. In addition, Mr. DeCarlo developed operational procedures to ensure the proper disposal of PCB ballasts and fluorescent lamps. With the US Postal Service since 1982, he has demonstrated leadership, determination and innovation in the realm of environmental concerns.

NON-PROFIT ORGANIZATION, ENVIRONMENTAL OR COMMUNITY GROUP

Prospect Park Alliance
Brooklyn, New York

In April 2002, the not-for-profit Prospect Park Alliance completed the restoration of the historic Boathouse in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park and reinterpreted the surrounding landscape to create the nation’s first urban Audubon Center. The newly created Center includes nature trails, restoration of 21 acres of surrounding natural habitat, and reconstruction of an original rustic arbor. The Prospect Park Alliance worked on the project in partnership with the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation and in collaboration with the National Audubon Society and the city’s public schools. Since the Center’s opening, more than 50,000 children and adults have taken advantage of educational exhibits, nature discovery classes, and guided tours of the natural environment.

The Brooklyn Bridge Park Coalition
When confronted by a lemon, this broad-based coalition made an entire lemonade stand. Faced with a proposal to develop five publicly owned piers south of the Brooklyn Bridge, members of the community banded together and not only protested the development, but also proposed an alternative: a waterfront park. After 15 years of efforts, the park gained the support of Governor Pataki and Mayor Bloomberg and $150 million in financing. Because of this alliance of more than 60 organizations, what was once underused warehouse space will become 75 acres of green, open spaces along a mile of Brooklyn’s waterfront.

The New Victory Theater
Manhattan, New York

The New Victory Theater, an historic theater in Times Square that presents a wide range of performing arts for children and families, has made significant progress in its building to improve energy efficiency and indoor air quality as evidenced by its recent selection for an EPA Small Business Energy Smart Award. In 2001, the Theater had an energy audit done by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority and acted on its recommendations. As a result, the Theater has achieved a 25% decrease in its electricity and gas use over a six-month period, and save $10,000 annually. The electricity and gas reductions also mean a reduction of nearly 104,000 pounds of CO2 emissions. The Theater also educates suppliers and service contracts by insisting on greener products.

Shooting Range Initiative Team
In 2001, EPA Region 2 published a manual of best management practices that outdoor shooting range owners can use to reduce or eliminate lead contamination at their facilities. Essential to the success of the project was the Shooting Range Initiative Team – Mark Begley of the Massachusetts Lead Shot Initiative; Bob Byrne of the Wildlife Management Institute; Jay Clark of the Izaak Walton League; Susan Recce Lamson of the National Rifle Association; Rick Patterson of the National Shooting Sports Foundation; and Dick Peddicord of Dick Peddicord and Company. Formed to peer-review the manual, the team has also been invaluable in conducting outreach to the shooting community. Team members have invited EPA to give presentations on lead management at various national and regional workshops and conferences, enabling the Agency to carry a realistic, if not always popular, message to the participants of their sport.

Westchester Land Trust
Bedford Hills, New York

Through its preservation work and advocacy for sound planning, the Westchester Land Trust is helping the county’s landowners, groups and officials shape the landscape of Westchester communities for decades to come. Last year, the Land Trust protected 31 properties in 8 cities, towns and villages through a combination of conservation easements, land donations and purchases of land. The Land Trust works with community advocates and officials on raising local money for open space preservation and planning future development that will protect open space and enhance community character. Since 2000, local communities have raised $33 million for open space acquisition and the Land Trust has worked with these communities to prepare or update their open space inventories. Since its founding in 1988, the Land Trust has preserved a total of 1,847 acres, the largest in total acreage of any private land preservation organization in the county.

Community Forestry Team
Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) of Onondaga County
Syracuse, New York

CCE developed three programs that involved residents in stewardship of their natural resources. The CommuniTree Stewards program trained municipal and park staff in assessing tree resources and trained volunteers who last year pruned and mulched 600 trees in the park system and planted another 60. Another program engaged high school students in inventorying more than 250 trees on two parks using palm pilots and Global Positioning System. And CCE coordinates a Community Tree Buying program through which several municipalities buy bare-root trees (instead of conventional balled and burlap trees) in bulk and have volunteers plant them, enabling more trees to be planted with limited public funds.

Headwaters Youth Conservation Corps (HYCC)
Norwich, New York

Formed in 1999, HYCC provides conservation services to communities in the Chanango and Upper Susquehanna River watersheds while helping 17- to 25-year-olds learn about natural resources and related jobs. The organization works in partnership with the AmeriCorps National Service Program and the regional Workforce Investment Board. Last year, HYCC had a year- round crew of five and two summer crews totaling 21 people, whose building efforts included raised gardens for a senior housing facility, accessible gardens at a community garden, and a wildlife viewing blind with wetland boardwalk. They also performed erosion control in a biological field station, improved wildlife habitat on YMCA campgrounds, and installed informational kiosks at trailheads.

ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION

Kirk Laflin
Partnership for Environmental Education

Mr. Kirk Laflin, Executive Director of the National Partnership of Environmental Techology Education, established a seven week summer employment and education program at two New York City wastewater treatment plants in 2002. A total of 21 high school students from the Bronx and 5 Bronx Community College students were employed at the Wards Island and North River wastewater treatment plants during the summer of 2002. These students were exposed to potential environmental career paths, additional education programs, life skills and a better appreciation and understanding of the environmental professionals’contributions to the protection of the environment.

Cornell University Environmental Inquiry Program
Ithaca, New York

Seneca Falls ninth-graders are conducting a year-long project to study scientific issues realted to a landfill proposal in their town. Ithaca High School students probed a proposal to use chemicals instead of sal for de-icing roads in town by testing the chemicals themselves. This is the kind of hands-on learning that take place through Cornell University’s Environmental Inquiry (EI) program. Cornell graduate students work in schools as teaching fellows to help students carry out projects related to local environmental issues. The program is also producing a book series on topics such as environmental toxicology, ecology of evasive species and composting. By connecting classroom science with relevant environmental issues, EI helps students make informed decisions and understand the roles they can play in improving environmental quality.

New York Aquarium Education Department
The department has not only educated the 800,000 annual visitors to the Aquarium itself, but has reached out to many parts of the community to teach New Yorkers about the environment. It has taught fifth graders about beach ecology, done salt march plantings with high school students, and educated New York City residents about both the science and law regarding wetlands.

BUSINESS AND INDUSTRY
Susan Moak
Long Island Jewish Medical Center
New Hyde Park, New York

When Susan Moak started working in laboratories more than 30 years ago, there were no regulations regarding chemical safety and waste management. Today, she is leading the way in how hospitals keep inventory of chemicals and manage chemical waste. At Long Island Jewish Medical Center she undertook the painstaking process of inventorying the entire medical center – not only its more than 50 labs but also facilities such as Nursing Units, Pharmacy, Radiology, and even Food and Nutrition. Beyond its safety benefits, the inventory can also reduce waste; for example, a research lab seeking a few milligrams of a chemical can now see if someone in the Medical Center has the chemical and obtain it there instead of ordering a whole bottle that may never be used. In January, Ms. Moak coordinated one of Region 2's most successful conferences on environmental compliance and pollution prevention at hospitals.