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EPA Marks the 40th Anniversary of Earth Day by Recognizing Environmental Achievers in Puerto Rico

Release Date: 05/05/2010
Contact Information: Brenda Reyes (787) 977-5869, reyes.brenda@epa.gov or Caroline Newton (212) 637-3937, newton.caroline@epa.gov

(San Juan, P.R.) For six people and organizations from Puerto Rico, the spirit of Earth Day has not diminished in the 40 years since it was first celebrated. In keeping with that spirit, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today awarded them each the Agency’s Environmental Quality Award. These awards, given to those who demonstrate outstanding achievements in protecting the environment, were presented by EPA Regional Administrator Judith Enck at an awards ceremony today at EPA’s Caribbean Environmental Protection Division office in San Juan.

“Today we honor those who advocate for a better environment, and give their time and energy to make the world a healthier and cleaner place,” said Judith Enck, EPA Regional Administrator. “The people and organizations we honor today are truly making a difference and we thank them for their part in helping us shape a more sustainable environmental future.”

Environmental Quality Award recipients are chosen from the following categories: individual citizen, environmental education, press and media, business and industry, non-profit organization, environmental or community group, and federal, state, local or tribal agency. The recipients come from within Region 2, which includes New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico, The U.S. Virgin Islands and 7 federally-recognized Indian Nations. The award winners span a wide range of environmental achievements, but each proves exemplary determination and success. The EPA’s regional office receives nominations for the awards from both inside and outside the Agency. For more information about the Environmental Quality Awards in EPA Region 2, go to http://www.epa.gov/region02/eqa/.

2010 Puerto Rico Environmental Quality Award Winners

Environmental Education
Scuba Dogs Society, Inc., San Juan
Scuba Dogs Society, Inc. is a Puerto Rico-based non-profit that was founded in honor of environmentalist Enrique Martí Coll. The organization has led an annual “International Coastal Cleanup” since 2002, which grew from a 10-beach cleanup in its first year to a cleanup of over 220 sites Commonwealth-wide in 2010. It also created the “Trash Fish” campaign to raise awareness of the problem of marine waste.

Jorge Benitez Bibiloni
Ecoquids Club, Las Piedras
Ecoquids is a series of fictional characters created by Jorge Benitez Bibiloni to educate children and young adults about environmental protection and conservation. Over the past four years, the characters, such as Tito the Coqui, have been seen by nearly 10,000 students.

Individual Citizen
Gilda Pimentel Porfil
Vieques
Since 2005, Gilda has led MANTA (Movimento en Apoyo a Nuestros Tesoros Ambientales), a summer program that teaches children ages 5-17 about the environment and natural resources. She has been an inspirational teacher to hundreds of children who have participated in this outstanding program. She has also been a tireless advocate for eliminating plastic bag waste, and has served as an environmental leader in the municipal legislature.

Karin Diaz, Esq.
Watershed Stewardship Program, San Juan
Karin Diaz, Esq. is chair of the stakeholders involvement committee, a group that has been essential to the success of the Watershed Stewardship Program in achieving its water quality objectives. The Program involves all levels of government in Puerto Rico. Karin’s pro bono legal advice has proven to be an irreplaceable and unique asset. In addition, Karin personally redrafted the Phosphate Detergent Control Act and was instrumental to its passage.

Non-Profit Organization, Environmental or Community Group
Maricruz Rivera Clemente
Corporacion Pinones Se Integra, Loiza
Corporacion Pinones Se Integra was founded 10 years ago by Maricruz Rivera Clemente, and focuses on promoting community stewardship of la Reserva Natural del Bosque Estatal de Pinones (the Natural Reserve of the State Forest) in Puerto Rico. It has funded many outreach programs, including AquaNatura, kayak rentals along the Laguna Torrecilla and educational tours of the Pinones forest.

Press and Media
GeoAmbiente del Caribe Inc.
Aventura Científica, San Juan
Aventura Científica is the only Puerto Rico television program devoted exclusively to environmental issues. The show, which airs weekly on channel 40 SiTV, follows two young adventurers as they explore Puerto Rico, educating viewers on the environment, technology and scientific research.

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