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Maine Citizens Receive Earth Day Honors with Prestigious Regional EPA Environmental Award

Release Date: 04/21/2009
Contact Information: EPA Office of Public Affairs, (617) 918-1010

(Boston, Mass. – April 21, 2009) – One individual and fourMaine groups will be honored on Earth Day in Boston’s Faneuil Hall as EPA presents its annual Environmental Merit Awards for 2009. Recognizing significant contributions to environmental awareness and problem solving, the Maine awardees includedone lifetime achievement award winner, two environmental/community/academia/non-profit organization award winners, and three state government award winners.

Given out by EPA since 1970, the merit awards honor individuals and groups who have shown particular ingenuity and commitment in their efforts to preserve the region's environment. This year's competition drew approximately 49 nominations from across New England.

The winners from Maine were among 31 from across New England. Awards were given 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 may present lifetime achievement awards for individuals. Environmental Merit Award Winners from Maine are:

Lifetime Achievement Environmental Merit Award

Owen Grumbling
Owen Grumbling has a passion for conservation that has come through during his years of work for the town. He has chaired the town of Wells Conservation Commission since 1982, and has inspired and educated countless students and community members so that they appreciate and work to protect their surroundings. Owen created the town conservation committee to champion creation of the Wells Estuarine Research Reserve at Laudholm Farm to protect the coastal habitat. Under his leadership, the town created a land bank for land conservation and yearly set aside funds to buy undeveloped property. The town also started getting gifts of land from families who wanted to preserve the town’s rural character. Owen wrote a town ordinance governing the definition and use of town conservation lands and giving citizens authority over this land. Owen strongly believes land conservation is most effective when people in a town take responsibility for their own living space. Today, the town has two designated Wildlife Commons – large shared spaces – each about 600 acres. The town’s Land Bank has grown to nearly a million dollars. In addition to this land conservation work, Owen served for 12 years on the board of the National Resources Council of Maine, an environmental advocacy group. For more than 30 years he has taught university students the value of conservation. His anthology of nature writing from 1990 remains in print today. Throughout Maine he is highly regarded and admired for his long-standing efforts to promote conservation.

Environmental, Community, Academia, & Non-profit Organizations Environmental Merit Award:

Citizens for a Green Camden
Citizens for a Green Camden are a small group of concerned citizens working to make their community a better and healthier place to live, focusing specifically on the elimination of poisons being used on lawns in their community. Their first milestone victory was successfully passing a pesticide policy to eliminate the use of pesticides on the town’s parks and playing fields, which has since been adopted by the neighboring town, Rockport. They also compare notes with a citizens group in Castine. The organization continues to work to educate homeowners about the dangers of using poisons on their lawns, running programs and providing written educational materials for residents at the town office. They were able to convince the town Bed and Breakfasts to join their efforts by not using pesticides on their properties, advertising those partners at the local Chamber of Commerce for visitors to see. The organization continues its education outreach through various other community-based methods to eventually eliminate poisons being used on lawns in the entire Camden community.

Environment Northeast (ENE)
Environment Northeast is a non-profit organization that researches and advocates innovative policies that tackle their environmental challenges while promoting sustainable economies. ENE is a leader of efforts at the state and regional levels combating global warming with solutions that promote clean energy, clean air, and healthy forests. In 2008, ENE made a leadership contribution by putting energy efficiency policies to work in multiple New England states. Working with broad coalitions of stakeholders and policy makers, ENE advanced a new and innovative model for increasing and institutionalizing investments in energy efficiency that can be replicated across states, sectors, and at the national level: the Efficiency Procurement model. The model fundamentally changes the way electric and gas utilities purchase energy resources to meet their customers’ needs by requiring that all cost-efficient energy efficiency be purchased first by electric and gas utilities before investing in more expensive, traditional supply side contracts. This translates into huge economic and environmental savings by doubling or tripling efficiency funding. The Procurement model is measurable and replicable, and has already been adopted by four New England states: Rhode Island, Connecticut, Maine and Massachusetts.

Long Creek Restoration Project Team
Long Creek is a small urban stream in Maine that does not meet state water quality standards due to high density urbanized development over the past several decades, converting the landscape from forests and farm fields into commercial, light industrial, retail and transportation uses. The health of Long Creek is also important to the health of downstream water bodies, that ultimately lead to the Casco Bay estuary. Representatives from the four municipalities located within the Long Creek watershed—South Portland, Westbrook, Scarborough, and Portland—the industrial, commercial and non-profit landowners, non-profit organizations in the watershed and several state entities all came together to form the Steering Committee that led the Long Creek Restoration Project. Their plan includes three tiers of targeted, practicable and prioritized structural and non-structural best management practices (BMPs), as well as strategies to restore in-stream and riparian habitats, and areas with degraded floodplains. The collaborative nature of this project and the development of its innovative Watershed Management Plan serve as a model for other rapidly developing urban communities across Maine, New England, and the rest of the nation.

Local, State or Federal Governmental Environmental Merit Award:

Maine Department of Environmental Protection (ME DEP)
Stacy Ladner, Deb Stahler, Heather Jackson
Stacy Ladner, Deb Stahler and Heather Jackson are national leaders in creating safer ways to address mercury releases from broken compact fluorescent light bulbs. The work of these employees in the Maine Department of Environmental Protection has changed the advice EPA and states give to people trying to contain mercury from CFLs. The three state workers discovered that existing protocols for addressing a release were not adequate after an emergency responder from Maine measured mercury air concentrations in a home where a light had broken. Levels were well above Maine’s level of concern. Research these scientists conducted with environmental and health agencies found the release from a single CFL was not insignificant, as experts had thought. They found small amounts of mercury on carpeted surfaces could cause emissions for a long time. A well-designed study by Maine DEP and these scientists provided valuable information that influenced policy and practical guidance for cleaning lamps. Before releasing the study results, Maine DEP educated health and environmental officials so colleagues could have answers for the public ahead of time.

State Electronic Challenge Partners – State of Maine
The state government of Maine; the Department of Environmental Protection in Connecticut; the City of Keene in New Hampshire; and the school department in the city of Providence, Rhode Island, are all being recognized for their involvement in a voluntary program that promotes greener use and disposal of government technology equipment. The challenge is administered by the Northeast Recycling Council. In its first year, the State Electronics Challenge signed on 29 partners, including entire state governments as well as small municipal departments. The four organizations chosen for awards have shown exceptional leadership in the field. The achievements of this group include purchasing greener or “environmentally preferable” computers, reducing energy use by computers through software and employee education, and managing old electronics through reuse, recycling and other methods that reduce their impact. Altogether, the partners in this program reduced energy by the amount used by 1662 households a year; avoided greenhouse gases equivalent to taking 1,370 cars off the road for a year; and eliminated 152 metric tons of trash, the amount of waste generated by 76 households a year.

Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative Team – ME DEP
The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative Team has set up innovative measures to control greenhouse gases, including the first-in-the-nation auction of CO2 emissions allowances. The six New England states are among 10 states pioneering this first mandatory cap and trade program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and states have committed to cap and then reduce the amount of CO2 emitted by power plants in their region, limiting the total regional contribution to greenhouse gases. A September auction brought in $28 million for Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Maine, Vermont and Maryland and two more auctions have been held since. New England states have made more than $80 million in revenues from the auctions, which can be used for future energy cutting and efficiency programs.

More Information: Environmental Merit Awards (www.epa.gov/ne/ra/ema)