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EPA Honors Work of Exceptional New York Environmental Leaders

Release Date: 04/23/2014
Contact Information: Mary Mears (212) 637-3673, mears.mary@epa.gov

      (New York, N.Y.) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today honored 17 individuals and organizations from across New York with Environmental Quality Awards for their achievements in protecting public health and the environment. EPA Regional Administrator Judith A. Enck presented the awards at a ceremony at EPA’s offices in Manhattan. Michelle DePass, former Assistant Administrator of the EPA Office of International and Tribal Affairs and currently Dean of the Milano School of International Affairs, Management and Urban Policy at the New School for Public Engagement in New York City, delivered the keynote address.

      “Today we celebrate the exemplary work of people who work tirelessly to protect the environment and give their time and energy to create a cleaner and healthier future for us all,” said EPA Regional Administrator Judith A. Enck. “Their extraordinary contributions serve as an inspiration to all who strive for a more sustainable environmental future.”

      The EPA presents Environmental Quality Awards annually during Earth Week to individuals, businesses, government agencies, environmental and community-based organizations and members of the media in EPA Region 2, which covers New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and eight federally-recognized Indian Nations. The awards recognize significant contributions to improving the environment and public health in the previous calendar year. For information about the Environmental Quality Awards in EPA Region 2, visit http://www.epa.gov/region02/eqa/.

      The Environmental Quality Award winners from New York are (in alphabetical order):

      Chris Bowser
      New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
      Hudson River Estuary Program and National Estuarine Research Reserve
      Chris Bowser has made “glass eels” (young American eels migrating from the Atlantic Ocean into freshwater streams) the focus of a unique environmental education project that goes from building knowledge about eels to promoting stewardship of this fish and habitats essential to its life cycle. He has engaged hundreds of K-12 students, youth group members, college students and community volunteers in studying glass eel migration into Hudson estuary tributaries. His work ensures that students learn about ecological links between the sea and freshwater rivers and watersheds.

      Mayor Byron Brown
      City of Buffalo, New York
      Under Mayor Brown, the city of Buffalo has emerged as a national environmental leader. The Buffalo Public Schools energy program will save $71 million dollars over 20 years. The city's "Complete Streets" program has 60 miles of bike facilities. The Buffalo Sewer Authority has reduced natural gas use by 60% and is implementing a $430 million combined sewer overflow plan including nearly $100 million in urban stormwater retrofits. The Buffalo River Restoration Partnership is removing almost one million cubic yards of contaminated river sediment.

      Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper
      For over 25 years, Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper has brought together multiple partners to solve complex environmental problems. The Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper has successfully leveraged water-based investments with millions of dollars of private investments for the region and is leading initiatives for impaired waterways like the Scajaquada Creek and implementing green infrastructure projects. The Buffalo River Restoration Partnership is one of the largest cleanups in the country. In addition, the Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper is helping to restore 2,800 feet of Buffalo River shoreline with 2,000 plants.

      Catherine Bullwinkle
      Cathe Bullwinkle is the lead poison prevention coordinator for the Oneida County Health Department and is an active community member working to transform "brownfields" to "greenfields" in some of the most economically depressed areas of the county. Cathe's hard work, vision and unique ability to inspire others makes her a stand-out among those she serves and those who work side-by-side with her. Cathe's work is helping to create a healthy environment through lead free housing, access to healthy foods and providing safe places for people to recreate.

      Bart Chezar
      Since retiring from the New York Power Authority in 2002, Bart Chezar has made it his mission to protect the environment. He has been involved in the hybridization of taxi and livery car fleets, helped reduce school bus emissions and developed a program to help New York State reduce vehicle greenhouse gas emissions. He is chairman of his local Sierra Club, on the Board of the Gowanus Dredgers Canoe Club and a member of the NY-NJ Harbor & Estuary Program Citizens Advisory Committee.

      Maureen Dolan Murphy
      Citizens Campaign for the Environment
      Maureen Dolan Murphy is an executive program manager for Citizens Campaign for the Environment. She is also chair of the South Shore Estuary Reserve Citizens Advisory Committee, chair of the Communications Committee for Long Island Sound Citizens Advisory Committee and an active member and co-founder of the Western Bays Coalition. In these capacities, her goal is to educate the general public on the benefits of preserving the environment in all of its parts, focusing on the Northeast.

      Green Living Technologies
      Green Living Technologies International, headquartered in Rochester, New York, is a national leader in developing and providing intelligent green technologies like green walls and green roofs and vertical farming. The company’s unique technologies have helped conserve energy, reduce storm water runoff and filter pollutants and carbon dioxide out of the air, while encouraging environmentally sustainable farming. In 2013, the company completed a green wall 8 feet wide and 40 feet tall containing 1,776 green plants to improve air quality at the Rochester Institute for Technology's Sustainability Institute halls.

      IceStone
      IceStone began with a simple concept; transform waste glass into something beautiful. The company has manufactured sustainable recycled countertop materials in Brooklyn since 2003. Each countertop slab contains 70% recycled content and production of these slabs has diverted over 13 million pounds of glass from landfills. IceStone’s recycled glass and cement compositions deliver unparalleled style that brings design to life. More importantly, this local business is a "triple bottom line" business, concerned about economic and environmental accountability and social responsibility.

      Jackie James-Creedon
      Jackie James-Creedon was one of the founding members and first executive director of the Clean Air Coalition of Western New York. From 2008-2009, she led the group in its campaign against Tonawanda Coke, resulting in the facility reducing its benzene emissions by 86%. She has made it her personal mission to find out why she and so many people in the Tonawanda area have chronic illnesses. She continues her environmental justice and scientific investigation work in her community by conducting soil testing and mentoring high school students.

      Keith Kerman
      City of New York
      Department of Citywide Administrative Services
      As New York City’s first Chief Fleet Management Officer, Keith Kerman has led the city’s green fleet program to greater heights. The city has increased the use of hybrid electric vehicles, with 5,848 hybrids or battery electric vehicles, including 48 hybrid diesel-electric trucks. The city operates over 600 electric vehicles, including 60 all electric sedans and 164 charging stations. Keith also led a citywide light duty fleet reduction plan that reduced the size of the fleet by 500 vehicles, which will also reduce fuel consumption.

      Lake George Association
      Floating Classroom
      Each year, approximately 1,500 students board the Rosalia Anna Asby, the Lake George Association’s floating classroom, to learn more about maintaining the quality of one of New York State’s largest lakes. The goal of the floating classroom is to broaden students’ knowledge of the lake, its watershed and environmental challenges. The students measure water depth and clarity, use nets to collect plankton and learn about ways in which they can help protect the lake.

      David Majewski
      Urban Habitat Project
      David Majewski has been the guiding force for the Urban Habitat Project at the Buffalo Central Terminal. The project serves as an outdoor classroom for local youth, an opportunity for urban ecology research and a demonstration of green infrastructure to manage stormwater. The site absorbs approximately 320,000 gallons of stormwater runoff from adjacent streets and redirects it to the site via adjoining bioretention cells. The three acre project includes native plant species selected to promote soil remediation and enhance biodiversity of birds, insects and mammals.

      Painted Apron Water Committee
      When a water system in Orange County, New York was abandoned by its owner after years of mismanagement and neglect, volunteers stepped in to protect public health and provide safe drinking water. A few residents of Port Jervis assumed responsibility for themselves and for everyone served by the public water supply. Due to their efforts and persistence, the system has been taken off a boil water notice and customers now have confidence that their drinking water is properly monitored and treated.

      Eva Radke
      Film Biz Recycling
      Eva Radke founded Film Biz Recycling in 2008. She describes it as a “creative reuse center.” At its Gowanus warehouse in Brooklyn, New York, donations from film, TV, theater, commercial and other media productions are collected and sorted. Nearly half of the items become inventory for sale or rent at the prop shop everything else goes to charity. The organization currently partners with eight charities that collect donated materials. Since its founding, Film Biz has collected and repurposed more than 450 tons of donated production items.

      Eva Sanjurjo
      Eva Sanjurjo is a founder of the Hunts Point Awareness Committee, a group of civic activists that helped foster the environmental justice movement in the South Bronx. The committee formed to fight a stench from a New York Organic Fertilizer Company facility, where sludge from sewage plants was converted into fertilizer pellets. In response to concerns about air pollution and high levels of asthma among children in Hunts Point, Eva helped start an educational program called "Greening for Breathing," which planted hundreds of trees in the neighborhood.

      Scott Acres Water Users Association
      After more than a decade of neglect, the Scott Acres Water Company abandoned its water system in Orange County, New York. A concerned group of citizens banded together to acquire responsibility for the system and, in the process, revitalized the plant, made significant repairs to its housing, replaced a defective pump, installed climate control features and hired a certified operator to operate the system. Today, customers of the Scott Acres Water system are drinking properly treated water.

      Dr. Ralph Spezio
      Rochester City School District
      Dr. Spezio has been a tireless advocate for children in the Rochester, New York area. As principal of School 17, Dr. Spezio noticed serious learning problems among some of his students. When he saw that they had high blood lead levels, he helped found the Coalition to Prevent Lead Poisoning (CPLP), an education and advisory group dedicated to eliminate lead poisoning in Monroe County. Facilitated by CPLP, Rochester has reduced blood lead levels and Dr. Spezio continues to share his success in Rochester with other communities, most recently Newburgh, New York.

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