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STATEMENTS: Senior EPA Officials Pay Tribute to Ira Leighton, who Helped Shape Environmental Protection since 1972

Release Date: 07/31/2013
Contact Information: David Deegan, (617) 918-1017

(Boston, Mass. – July 31, 2013) – EPA officials made the following statements regarding the passing, on July 26, 2013, of Ira W. Leighton, of Holliston, Mass., Deputy Regional Administrator of US EPA Region 1:

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy:

“During his 41 years of public service, Ira Leighton was truly a force for environmental protection and an institution within EPA. Ira was innovative, practical, and results-oriented, and his dedication and leadership were crucial to many Agency initiatives. He improved the quality of life for millions of people across the country.”

EPA Region 1 Administrator Curt Spalding (New England regional office):

“New England and the American people lost a truly exceptional public servant last Friday.

Ira Leighton, a 41-year career employee and senior leader at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, made a positive impact on the lives of countless New Englanders and citizens across the United States. His work helped shape EPA’s reliance on sound science, legal integrity and health-protective policies into effective tools to protect the health of Americans from pollution in the air, water and land.

Ira started working for the then-brand new U.S. EPA’s Boston office in 1972 as an engineer. During the 1970’s and 80’s, he worked on contaminated site clean ups, and he was pivotal in shaping EPA’s Superfund program in New England following the1980 passage of the Superfund law.

In the 1990’s, Ira spent years managing EPA’s efforts to enforce environmental laws in New England. He fostered an integrated approach, providing assistance to ensure regulated entities understood their environmental obligations, followed by enforcement against those who chose not to comply. For the past 13 years he served as the Deputy Regional Administrator – the senior career official – in EPA’s Region 1 office, overseeing environmental programs throughout New England.

It’s impossible to overstate the positive impact Ira’s work has had on the health of hundreds of New England communities and millions of citizens. Every day his actions emphasized that he believed EPA’s core mission made everyone’s life better by protecting people’s health and the environment we rely on. We will miss him and must now commit to honoring his memory by continuing the great and important work of this Agency.

Ira never forgot the crucial role in protecting health and the environment played by EPA’s state and local partners, as well as by interested citizens. He employed an open and inclusive management style that ensured stakeholders had a seat at the table, and that EPA would “circle back” before “finding our way forward” on important decisions.

All of Ira’s significant professional accomplishments underscored the fact that he was smart, hard-working, humble, honest and cared deeply not only for his own family, but also for the people around him. He became personal friends with those he was around. He was simply a terrific person.

In addition to his cherished family, Ira will be greatly missed by his colleagues in EPA New England, his EPA family across the country, and the public he served so well. His legacy will live on in New England and in the U.S. in the form of cleaner air, purer water and healthy, vibrant land that supports thriving communities.”

More information on Ira Leighton: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/bostonglobe/obituary.aspx?n=ira-w-leighton&pid=166117074&fhid=25325#fbLoggedOut

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