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EPA Honors Environmental Advocates for Exemplary Work; Six Individuals, Scientists, Business People, Government Workers, Educators and Journalists from Puerto Rico Are Recognized for Environmental Accomplishments

Release Date: 05/02/2000
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(#00077) New York, New York – As part of its celebration of the 30th anniversary of Earth Day, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) honored six individuals, educators, businesses, advocacy groups, governmental agency representatives and journalists from Puerto Rico for their diligent work to protect the environment and human health. Jeanne M. Fox, EPA Regional Administrator presented the winners with EPA Environmental Quality Awards at a ceremony held today at Universidad Metropolitan.

"The Environmental Quality Awards are EPA’s way of taking its hat off to those who work the hardest to preserve and protect our environment and public health. As we celebrate the 30th anniversary of Earth Day and look back on 30 years of environmental progress, These winners remind us that environmental protection is about more than laws, regulations and standards. Environmental protection is also about individual gumption and dedication," said Jeanne M. Fox, EPA Region 2 Administrator. "The unwavering commitment of these Puerto Ricans to making our world a better place should serve as an example to us all."

EPA Region 2 presents Environmental Quality Awards annually to individuals, nonprofit groups, educators, businesspeople, government officials and journalists 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 Winners of the 2000 Environmental Quality Awards in Puerto Rico are:

PRESS & MEDIA

José Javier Pérez, El Nuevo Día, San Juan, Puerto Rico

Mr. Peréz has worked with El Nuevo Día as a reporter since 1991, concentrating on environmental issues. His articles on ecotourism and the island’s water crisis led to the passage of a law establishing construction parameters for the ecotourism industry and the construction of rehabilitation water projects by the Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority. Demonstrating a deep sympathy for embattled communities, he has covered the Guayanilla’s struggle against pesticides, Cataño’s air quality problems, and the controversy over the use of the island of Vieques as a Navy training facility. He has also given extensive coverage to the San Juan Bay Estuary Program.

BUSINESS & INDUSTRY

Ethicon, Johnson & Johnson, San Lorenzo, Puerto Rico

Since 1991, this facility has undertaken a major effort to reduce its energy use. In 1994, it joined EPA’s Energy Star Buildings program and it completed its energy-conservation program in 1999, reducing its energy use by 16.9 percent. This cut in power usage resulted in reductions of emissions of carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide. By eliminating these greenhouse gases, the company contributed significantly to the goals of President Clinton’s Climate Change Action Plan.

ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION

Club Pequeñas Manos, Escuela Rosa P. Paris, Fajardo, Puerto Rico

This student club has been working for the last four years to be role models for fellow students and the community. Lead by Thalmary Ayala and other volunteering parents, the club has created arts and crafts projects, often with environmental themes, in its school and community. One of their highest priorities has been promoting recycling. Their enthusiasm and creativity have been honored by the municipal government as well as by local industry.

Club de Ambientalistas, Escuela de la Comunidad Pedro Rosario Nieves, Fajardo, Puerto Rico

These fourth to sixth-graders have undertaken a variety of projects to both improve their local environment as well as educate their fellow students. They have conducted a cleanup along the public beach in their area, and picked up recyclables within their neighborhood for proper disposal. They have planted trees, collected aluminum cans to raise money, and even created several arts and crafts projects using recyclable materials.

INDIVIDUAL CITIZEN

Dr. Carlos Padín, San Juan, Puerto Rico

The dean of Metropolitan University, Dr. Padín has lent his expertise to a wide range of projects around Puerto Rico. He has worked extensively with groups studying the environmental impacts of the U.S. Navy’s activities on the island of Vieques. He directed a brownfields training project in Cantera and established a Tropical Research Center in Ciales. In addition, he has been a strong advocate of environmental justice projects and has produced television and radio programs to help educate the public on environmental issues.

NONPROFIT ORGANIZATION, ENVIRONMENTAL OR COMMUNITY GROUP

Maunabo Development Committee, Maunabo, Puerto Rico

This group, founded in 1996, has become a strong advocate and educator in the southeastern region of Puerto Rico. Among the group’s missions are to create a natural reserve of the Pandura and Guardarraya mountains, to protect the "coqui guajon" frog that lives in Puerto Rican caves, and to conserve the Maunabo wetlands in Punta Tuna.