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EPA Hosts 26th Pacific Islands Environment Conference in Saipan

Release Date: 06/16/2009
Contact Information: Dean Higuchi, 808-541-2711, higuchi.dean@epa.gov

$750,000 Brownfields grant to CNMI to be presented at conference

(06/16/09) HONOLULU – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Pacific Islands Office, together with the governments of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, and American Samoa are hosting a four-day conference, “Climate of Change: Energizing a Sustainable Future for Pacific Islands,” June 22-25, at the Saipan World Resort at Susupe Village, Saipan, CNMI.

“The sessions will focus on efforts making a difference in protecting island environments, examine environmental challenges and issues facing the Pacific Islands, and provide island leaders with the latest ideas and tools on preserving fragile ecosystems,” said Laura Yoshii, acting regional administrator for the U.S. EPA’s Pacific Southwest Region. “The $750,000 in Brownfields assessment grants is just one tool to improve the environment for the residents of CNMI.”

The EPA selected the Northern Mariana Islands Department of Public Lands for Brownfields assessment grants totaling $750,000 to be used to perform a total of 26 site assessments, including work at the proposed Tinian landfill site. Assessment of Brownfields is the first step toward cleanup and redevelopment of these potentially contaminated sites. The EPA’s Acting Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator Laura Yoshii will be highlighting the grant award at the conference.

“We’re honored to have Ms. Yoshii, EPA Acting Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator, present the grant award. We are also excited to engage in discussions with visiting environmentalists from Guam, American Samoa, Palau, Hawaii and other neighboring countries,” said Frank M. Rabauliman, CNMI DEQ Director. “I am looking forward to the sessions wherein the CNMI has an opportunity to showcase its success in outreach and education, compliance monitoring, and the Brownfields program. This conference is a testimony of the CNMI’s commitment to protect our environment through the many public-private partnerships.”

The conference agenda will focus on a wide range of topics including adapting to climate change impacts; increasing sustainable and green infrastructure efforts; community and non-governmental activities to protect the environment; water and wastewater infrastructure issues; and protecting coral reefs.

Pre-conference meetings and workshops to be held on June 22, include a CNMI Energy Summit, co-sponsored by the CNMI DPW Energy Division. The main conference program runs from June 23 to 25. Registration begins at 7:30 each morning, but space is limited and advance registration is highly suggested. The conference sessions are free, but fees may apply to certain activities and lunches. Visit www.regonline.com/PIEC2009 for additional information and to register.

For additional information about the conference, contact the CNMI Division of Environmental Quality at 670-664-8500, or www.regonline.com/PIEC2009
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