EPA Awards 4 Environmental Merit Awards to Maine Recipients
Release Date: 04/22/2014
Contact Information: EPA New England Public Affairs, (617) 918-1010
(Boston, Mass: April 22, 2014) Today, the U.S. EPA recognized four organizations and/or individuals from Maine at the 2014 Environmental Merit Awards ceremony. The Maine awardees were among 26 recipients across New England honored for contributing to improving New England’s environment.
Each year EPA’s New England office recognizes individuals and groups whose work has protected or improved the region’s environment in distinct ways. The merit awards, given out since 1970, honor individuals and groups who have shown particular ingenuity and commitment in their efforts.
“We extend our congratulations and gratitude to this year’s Environmental Merit Award winners, who are helping to ensure a cleaner environment and healthier communities here in New England,” said Curt Spalding, regional administrator of EPA’s New England office. “In addition to iconic natural beauty and vibrant communities, New England is fortunate to have citizens who care deeply about the environment we share.”
The 2014 Environmental Merit Awards program was dedicated to Ira Leighton, former deputy regional administrator for EPA New England’s office who died in 2013 after 41 years of service to EPA.
“Ira truly loved the Environmental Merit Award ceremonies and deeply appreciated the environmental stewardship and commitment of citizens across New England,” said Spalding.
The Environmental Merit Awards, which are given to people who have already taken action, are awarded in the categories of individual; business (including professional organizations); local, state or federal government; and environmental, community, academia or nonprofit organization. Also, each year EPA presents lifetime achievement awards for individuals. The Environmental Merit Award Winners from Maine listed by category are:
Maine Volunteer Lake Monitoring Program, Auburn, Maine
The Maine Volunteer Lake Monitoring Program includes more than 100 volunteers who monitor Maine’s lakes, providing a critical service to the state Department of Environmental Protection. In 1994, when Maine’s budget eliminated these monitoring positions, a committee of volunteers and department staff created a nonprofit program to do the work. The program continues 18 years after its founding to provide quality data on water quality indicators. The program trains hundreds of volunteers who assess watershed health and screen lakes for invasive plants and animals. The partnership between the monitoring program and DEP involves DEP staff serving as technical advisors on the program board. The data provided by the volunteer program allows DEP to make informed decisions on Maine lakes. DEP estimates it has saved more than $350,000 in staff time to gather the data.
Dr. Samuel Merrill, Ph. D
Formerly of University of Southern Maine, now with Catalysis Adaptation Partners, Scarborough, Maine
Samuel Merrill was nominated for 12 years of outstanding service to the New England Environmental Finance Center at the University of Southern Maine, as well as to EPA and communities across New England. For those years, Merrill served as director of the EPA sponsored finance center and as associate professor at USM. There, as founding director, he built the program from scratch. Early on, Merrill focused on educating communities on the financial and environmental benefits of smart growth approaches to land use. In the last five years, his focus shifted to helping communities understand the financial implications of sea level rise and storm surges, and various adaptations. He developed software that models the cost of adapting to see level rise and increased storm surges, and that can predict damages and relative benefits of responses. One example of how this tool works was in Mystic, Conn. The “COAST” software estimated that elevating certain roads, flood-proofing and other adaptations would prevent nearly all damage that would be caused by a 10-year storm under a low sea level rise scenario in 2070. Damages were estimated at $8.7 million without any adaption. This is but a snapshot of the work Merrill has done for the New England environment.
Business/Industry/Trade or Professional
E2Tech – Environmental & Energy Technology Council of Maine
The Environmental & Energy Technology Council of Maine last year began its transformation from a business trade group to an organization devoted to commercializing alternative energy and environmental technologies. Members of the group, known as E2Tech, and the affiliated energy companies, environmental engineers, entrepreneurs and government agencies are on the cutting edge of this marketing and work to pursue policies, projects, partnerships and financing that encourage investment in their products and services. E2Tech’s projects involve experts from technology, business, economic development and other disciplines. The organization is helping Maine’s clean technology companies create and maintain jobs, promote their products, access grants and investments and connect with mentors and consultants, among other things. The organization’s growth in the last year will help it to support Maine’s continued growth in the clean technology sector.
“Save Your Pipes: Don’t Flush Baby Wipes,”
National Association of Nonwoven Fabrics, Maine Wastewater Control Association, Portland Water District
Aubrey Strause, Ronald Mill, Steve Ogle
Flushing baby wipes down the toilet causes environmental and economic problems for Maine’s utilities, as well as utilities across the country. With the sale of wipes growing, consumers are confused about which can be flushed. Resulting clogs cost towns and homeowners money and resources, and can cause pollution in local waterways. Many towns tried without success to educate the public. The Portland Water District looked at clogs for six weeks in 2013 and found baby wipes to be a serious problem. In January 2014, the Maine Wastewater Control Association, Portland Water District and National Association of Nonwoven Fabrics kicked off a “Save your Pipes: Don’t Flush Baby Wipes” campaign. The campaign, which included TV ads, media coverage and displays by the local supermarket, successfully reduced the amount of wipes clogging systems.
Leighton “In Service to States” Award
The Ira Leighton "In Service to States" Environmental Merit Award was initiated by several environmental groups and EPA New England. The groups involved were the New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission, the Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management, the Northeast Waste Management Officials' Association and the New England state Environmental Commissioners, along with EPA.
The award went to Ken Kimmell, who worked at the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection from 2011 to March 2014 and before that as General Counsel at the Massachusetts Executive Office of Environmental Affairs from 2007 through 2011. During that time, Kimmell demonstrated a stellar record protecting the environment, proactively addressing climate change, promoting sustainability and innovation, and advancing clean energy technology at the state, regional, and local levels.