2001 News Releases
EPA HONORS 31 WESTERN ENVIRONMENTAL HEROES
Release Date: 11/28/2001
Contact Information: Leo Kay, Press Office, 415/947-4306
SAN FRANCISCO During the agency's third annual Environmental Awards Ceremony in San Francisco today, U.S. EPA Regional Administrator Wayne Nastri presented plaques to 31 western organizations and individuals in recognition of their efforts to protect and preserve the environment in the year 2000.
"Today's honorees have applied creativity, teamwork and leadership in addressing many of the west's most pressing and complex environmental problems," Nastri said. "Thanks to the efforts of these individuals, our air, water and land will be cleaner and safer for generations to come. The winners set an example for all of us to follow."
The EPA Region 9 Environmental Awards program acknowledges commitment and significant contributions to the environment in California, Arizona, Nevada, Hawaii, Guam and tribal lands. Thirty one groups and individuals were selected from 100 nominees received this year from businesses, media, local, state and federal government officials, tribes, environmental organizations and citizen activists.
The winners and basis for recognition are:
Local, State, Tribal or Federal Government
L. Robert Ulibarri, Hoopa Valley Tribe (Hoopa, California) The Hoopa Valley Tribe manages a 77,000 acre forest reserve with annual production of nearly 14 million board feet of lumber. Ulibarri and other area industry leaders have developed a small biopower plant that will generate power for the tribe's tree nursery operations which uses hardwood slash from the Tribe's forest reserve as fuel supply. The plant's deployment will improve forest health, reduce wildfires, reduce air pollution from in-forest burning of slash, reduce energy costs, improve the quality and reliability of electric supply, and provide employment through manufacturing and energy service company job opportunities. Unlike conventional bio-mass power plants, the Tribe's plant does not burn the wood waste, but converts agricultural and forest residue to a clean gas that can be used in a variety of different engine types.
Ecobuilding Team (Phoenix, Arizona) The Ecobuilding Team is finishing construction of a completely environmentally self-sustainable, 5,200 sq.ft. office building for the Arizona Army National Guard in Phoenix. The building is constructed with many
recycled materials consisting of: an 11 kilowatt solar array for electrical loads; a roof design and storage to harvest 28,000 gallons of water annually; a closed-loop biological wastewater treatment system adjacent to the building; energy-efficient commercial daylighting (systems using the sun) and indoor lighting; radiant barriers to impede heat gain; thermal mass to regulate interior temperatures, and; a combination of underground cooling tubes along with an air-to-water heat exchanger that uses water cooled by evaporation and deep space radiation for air conditioning.
County Sanitation Districts of Los Angeles County (Whittier, California) Recognizing the serious environmental impacts of lindane, the sanitation districts spurred the state of California to pass legislation banning lindane in head lice and scabies treatments. This action will greatly reduce environmental problems by lindane, and is consistent with many U.S. EPA priorities including surface water quality, pollution prevention and children's health. The sanitation districts accomplished this benefit with a very open and competent combination of technical analysis, multilingual public participation, and communication with the governor and state legislature. The sanitation district's efforts have led to the passage of a bill in the California Assembly to ban medical uses of lindane. The ban, which will take effect Jan.1, will mean that the one trillion gallons of wastewater produced annually in California will be essentially free of lindane pollution.
International Bird Rescue Research Center (Cordelia, California) The International Bird Rescue Research Center, a non-profit organization headquartered in Cordelia, California, is dedicated to mitigating the human impact on aquatic birds and other wildlife, worldwide. With an oil spill response team of 25 wildlife experts, the center has managed the oiled bird rehabilitation efforts in over 100 oil spills in 11 states, seven different countries and two U.S. territories. The center also provides education, training and consultation to the petroleum industry, local, state, and federal fish and wildlife agencies, wildlife rehabilitators, researchers and the public. The center manages two centers in California that operate seven days a week, year-round treating thousands of native birds that are orphaned, injured and/or oiled. Since being founded 30 years ago following the collision of two tankers beneath the Golden Gate Bridge, they have estimated saving150,000 birds.
Port of Long Beach (Long Beach, California) Faced with several hundred thousand cubic yards of contaminated sediments deposited in the harbor during many years of Navy activities, the port developed an innovative approach to isolating contaminated sediments in an abandoned marine slip by using those materials as engineered structural fill. The port removed and ecologically sequestered nearly 1 million cubic yards of sediments contaminated with heavy metals, PAHs, pesticides, and PCBs, thus enhancing environmental conditions in three separate marine locations in the greater Los Angeles area; saving taxpayer money by furnishing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers with a free disposal alternative for materials that would otherwise be economically impracticable to dispose of; and enhancing the local economy and tax base by creating new land and returning a contaminated surplus Navy facility to economic vitality.
The City of Petaluma's Department of Water Resources and Conservation (California) This program demonstrates effective ways to improve water use efficiency and reduce pollution at less cost to the public than it pays for supplying water and wastewater services. The City of Petaluma and the Sonoma County Water Agency helped buy new equipment at Mishi Apparel and SOLA Optical USA, resulting in lower operating costs and reduced pollution for the two local businesses. At Mishi Apparel, the investement prevented hundreds of tons of non-treatable downstream chemicals from reaching San Francisco Bay and cut Mishi's water use in half, saving the firm $5,000 annually in water and sewer fees and $74,000 in chemical and energy costs. At SOLA Optical, the new equipment provided a projected water saving of 67 percent annually through recycling, leak elimination, improved irrigation scheduling and other water use efficiency activities.
Options Career Camp 2000 of the Tahoe National Forest Service (Foresthill, California) The Tahoe National Forest Service, in collaboration with Placer County Health & Human Services, sponsored this outdoor career development program for high schoolers interested in helping to preserve their environment. For two weeks in the summer, youth from all over Placer County work with Forest Service employees on priority environmental projects in the Tahoe National Forest. During the Options Career Camp 2000, participants completed three major projects including: building a fence to protect a small, wet meadow environment from cattle degradation; maintaining and repairing three guzzlers in order to provide effective, alternative water holes for wildlife in the area; and creating a major fuel break that had fallen into disrepair on the Foresthill Divide.
Department of the Environment, City & County of San Francisco (California) The department helps the Mayor and Board of Supervisors set the environmental agenda for San Francisco, operating hard-hitting environmental programs that serve model for other cities. The department has reduced pesticide use in San Francisco by 50 percent, and has pioneered innovative non-chemical pest control methods including using goats to control weeds and geckos to control exotic cockroaches. The city has 10 construction projects on-line designed to incorporate the latest green building techniques, including the $500 million Laguna Honda Hospital project, which when completed will be the nation's first green hospital. The Clean Air Program has helped the City purchase over 300 alternative fuel vehicles for its fleet, including street sweepers and long-haul garbage trucks. SF Environment has also helped design legislation banning the sale of mercury thermometers in the city, and exchanged 5,000 mercury thermometers for digital thermometers.
Dean Mike, Chairman of Twenty-Nine Palms Band of Mission Indians (Coachella, California) The Twenty-Nine Palms Band of Mission Indians has continued development of a state-accredited environmental laboratory that has been providing a much-needed service to tribes throughout southern California and beyond. The lab, which has separate departments for microbiology, organic and inorganic chemistry and pesticides analysis, includes an aggressive quality assurance program to ensure accuracy and integrity. The tribe has signed a resolution designating all funds received from laboratory analysis to be redirected back to the environmental program for further development and implementation of the tribe's environmental programs. The tribe's leadership in the laboratory and quality assurance arenas has made a positive contribution to protecting the environment. Under EPA Coordinator Marshall Cheung's leadership, the Twenty Nine Palms Laboratory has become a model facility.
Pamela Evans of the Alameda Health Agency (California) Evans' commitment to pollution prevention is evidence by her leadership in getting pollution prevention integrated into the Alameda County Health Agency's inspections program, coordinating the Alameda County Green Business program and her leadership in the Western Regional Pollution Prevention Network. In 1990,Evans organized training for Alameda County inspectors that resulted in permanent waste minimization procedures being incorporated into the department's hazardous waste inspections. In 1995, she established a first-in-the-nation program that awards "green business" status to those achieving full environmental compliance and adopting significant pollution prevention and resource conservation measures. Finally, Evans shares her expertise regularly with the over 300 members of the Western Regional Pollution Prevention Roundtable, and recently held a workshop with several Arizona agencies to help them establish their own green business program.
Lake Tahoe Best Management Practices Working Group (Zephyr Cove, Nevada) This group is dedicated to non-point source pollution prevention and resource protection through the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency and the Natural Resource Conservation Service. The group promotes innovative management practice techniques and designs to inform stakeholders about their role in improving the Lake Tahoe Basin watershed. The group provides outreach to an estimated 4,600 homeowners, businesses and school children, and in the year 2000 alone, evaluated 622 properties for future needs and provided retrofitting assistance to 122 residential properties. The group has been getting its message out through a variety of mechanisms: Training sessions for realtors, contractors, homeowners associations and chambers of commerce; the development of a handbook, the Home Landscaping Guide for Lake Tahoe and Vicinity; and aggressive media outreach. The group's work will ultimately result in reduced stormwater pollution entering tributaries and the lake.
Inland Empire Utilities Agency (Rancho Cucamonga, California) The Inland Empire Utilities Agency developed a strategy that provides a coordinated, integrated long-term plan for treating, recycling and locally reusing organic materials. Benefits of the strategy are: Increased cleanup and processing of local dairy manure from current 20 percent to over 50 percent by 2006; clean up contaminated groundwater supplies and make over 500,000 acre-feet of new storage available by 2006; produce enough methane gas to generate 50 megawatts of renewable energy by 2006; recycle organic materials into high-quality fertilizers in environmentally safe, enclosed composting facilities; protect water quality for downstream uses; reduce air pollutants, including global warming gasses, dust and diesel emissions; reduce solid waste generation to land fill; help restore and protect the Prado Basin wetlands; and provide water supply benefits that help "drought-proof" Southern California and reduce demand for Colorado and Northern California imported water supplies.
Dayton Valley Conservation District, Kevin Piper (Nevada) The district, in conjunction with the Middle Carson River Coordinated Resource Management Project, has made remarkable progress in watershed management planning and implementation for the Carson River. Watershed Voordinator Kevin Piper has been highly successful in working with local farmers and ranchers to implement projects that have resulted in significant water quality, habitat, and land stabilization benefits. From planning inception to project implementation at a number of riverbank locations (using a variety of funding sources) in only two years is remarkable. The district=s achievements are especially noteworthy in light of the significant local support for their work, right down to the various individual landowners on whose property the projects are built. The district=s achievements in prompt project implementation and mobilization of funding sources, as well as in cultivating local support serve as a model for watersheds throughout the southwest and across the country.
Angelo Bellomo, Director Environmental Health & Safety (Los Angeles) Bellomo became the Environmental Health and Safety director for the Los Angeles Unified School District, the nation's second largest school district, when the district's credibility was at its lowest conceivable ebb. He immediately was able to get his department moved from under Business Services to a direct report to the superintendent. He developed a comprehensive health and safety inspection program that will identify and reduce significant environmental health and safety risks, while ensuring that new schools are designed and constructed in an environmentally sensitive and resource efficient manner through the development of design criteria and building commissioning specs. Bellomo has brought policy reforms to the board to have them issue resolutions mandating reforms on a number of key health and environmental issues.
Eddrick Osborne (Richmond, California) In 1997 Eddrick Osborne became neighborhood council president for Parchester Village, a residential area of 700 homes in Richmond's North Shoreline Area adjacent to a declining industrial area. During the past three years he has been the city's primary contact for community outreach on an EPA brownfields project in North Shoreline, demonstrating leadership and excellent representation for his community. Osborne's cordial but firm manner has helped earn Parchester Village a reputation of being one of the best of the 30 neighborhood councils in Richmond to work with. The successful brownfield meetings that brought together Parchester residents with developers, and the developers' attendance and interaction with the community at the Neighborhood Council meetings, are largely in part to Osborne's personality and ability to present the neighborhood's concerns.
Grant Goodman of Rockland Materials (Phoenix, Arizona) Goodman's commitment to protecting our environment and public health is demonstrated by his taking the initiative, without public funds, to convert his entire fleet of trucks to operate on 100 percent vegetable oil biofuel. Although 50 to 60 cents a gallon more expensive than conventional diesel, Goodman decided to absorb the additional expense because "it was the right thing to do." Rockland Materials is now the largest bio-fuel user in the country, as well as the first private company in the nation to completely replace diesel fuel use with non-toxic soybean fuel. The switchover has resulted in a 95 percent reduction in hydrocarbon emissions and a 100 percent reduction in carcinogen emissions. Bio-fuel is purchased from Midwest farming co-ops and is not dependent on foreign or domestic oil reserves.
Heidi Hardin, Coordinator, Children's Mural Program and Bayview Opera House Environmental Education Program (BEEP!), (San Francisco) Hardin directs the Children's Mural Program and the Bayview Opera House Environmental Education Program -- or "BEEP!" for children in Hunters Point, a San Francisco community affected by unemployment, poverty, and environmental contamination. Hardin's original programs provide instruction in visual art techniques and environmental science, and focus on the history, environmental cleanup and reuse of the Hunters Point Naval Shipyard. Participants learn art techniques, interact with environmental workers, community watchdogs and civic leaders, complete hands-on environmental education projects, and participate in field trips. Over the last decade, Hardin has organized a broad diversity of community volunteers, obtained program funding, created innovative community collaborations, and provided instruction in the arts, making a difference in the lives of more than 2,700 children.
Environmental, Community or Non-Profit
Marla Morrissey, Morro Estuary Greenbelt Alliance (Los Osos, California) In 2000, the Morro Estuary Greenbelt Alliance helped raise $8 million to acquire land for the greenbelt, secured a grant of $30,000 from the California Department of Fish & Game to restore and create steelhead pools in a local creek, and also started an Earth Club at Los Osos Middle School with the help of an additional $30,000 grant from the National Wildlife Foundation that involves about 15-20 kids doing service work for the environment. Morissey received a Coastal America Partnership Award in 2000 for her leadership role in another organization she helped to create: Partners for Los Osos Dunes. The award recognized her efforts in increasing public and political awareness of open space and habitat conservation and developing partnerships with state and federal legislators and agencies. Morissey is currently serving as co-chair of the local chapter of the Aubobon Society and chair of the Morro Bay National Estuary Program Implementation Committee.
San Francisco School District's Indoor Air Quality Policy Implementation Committee In 1998, in response to high asthma rates in the Bayview/Hunters Point community and schools, the San Francisco School District directed school health programs to implement an indoor air quality policy. Since 1998 this committee has: began training and recruiting schools; conducted surveys and walk-throughs at pilot schools; trained staff at 11 schools and performed indoor air quality walk-throughs at nine more; developed priority lists of indoor air issues to be addressed at the schools that have completed walk-throughs and initiated repairs; amended a district policy to prohibit carpeting in schools where proper maintenance is problematic; and made such improvements to air quality at Dr. George Washington Carver Academic Elementary School that the school nurse has reported a dramatic drop in asthma inhaler use. This committee has a wonderful start at establishing a healthy indoor environment in which teachers can teach and children can learn in San Francisco schools.
Paul Tobiason of Guam Recycling Association (Agana, Guam) Paul Tobiason was the founder and is the guiding force of the Guam Recycling Association. He has devoted more of his time and energy than any single person in Guam toward the protection of the Guam environment. He is the mentor for young and older volunteers and regularly provides e-mail information bulletins concerning environmental issues. Additionally, Tobiason provides a wonderful example of citizens' environmental awareness. He lobbies senators and policy makers concerning important current issues, even though this may cause him personal hardship and tensions. By honoring Tobiason for his efforts he will be reinforced in his leadership role in Guam and he will be placed more firmly in the forefront of those who are determined to improve Guam attitudes toward important environmental issues.
San Francisco Bay Area Healthcare Pollution Prevention Partnership (California) Partners from community and environmental groups, hospitals and government agencies sometimes on different sides of health care waste and incineration debate have worked together for over two years to reduce mercury, medical and solid wastes from six San Francisco Bay Area hospitals with the aim of reducing dioxin emissions from medical waste incineration. The hospitals have achieved tangible environmental results, such as eliminating from 8 to 15 kilograms of mercury per facility. One hospital reduced plastics sent for incineration by 13 tons a year by switching to recyclable containers for needles. The partnership also identified a mopping system that reduces janitorial chemicals by 90 percent, conserves water and reduces workers'injuries. The partnership is committed to getting the word out to other hospitals in workshops, through a mercury assessment guide, improved signs for waste segregation and through electronic means.
Project Loko I'a (Honolulu, Hawaii) As part of it efforts to diversify their economic base, Hawai'i communities have endeavored over the years to reconstruct and operate traditional coastal aquaculture fish ponds. Project Loko I'a seeks to work with regulators to streamline a long and complicated permitting process through permit requirement analysis, water quality research, production demonstration and community engagement. As of December, the project had restored a native Hawaiian treasure Kahinapohaku Fish Pond on the Island of Moloka'i, and also established aquaculture production at nearby Ualapue Fish Pond. The project has also identified ways to streamline the permit process and developed a water quality research protocol to guide future data gathering. Most importantly, the project began building local capacity to sustain an aquaculture industry in the form of a corps of young residents committed to preserving a tradition of knowledge and lifestyle that incorporates the best of contemporary science.
Hanalei Heritage River Program (Hanalei, Kauai, Hawaii) This is an inclusive and innovative community-based effort to protect the environment, preserve Hawaiian culture and promote sustainable economic development. In 1998, Kauai's Hanalei River was named one of 14 "American Heritage Rivers" nationwide, which led to the designation of three local, part-time river navigators, creating local jobs and local ownership of the federal designation. In the last year volunteers collected samples of indicator bacteria that indicated septic systems at beach restrooms and a busy riverfront restaurant appear to be discharginge bacteria to the beach and river. Using donated computer and software, the program is providing maps to community groups and Kamehameha school, allowing local students to map current and historical cultural uses in the watershed. With support from an EPA grant, program staff and volunteers are also replacing non-indigenous riparian plants with a stream buffer of native plants.
Division of Forestry (Mangilao, Guam) The Guam Water Planning Committee, with representatives from 14 organizations and agencies, counsels Guam's governor, legislature, government agencies, private groups and citizens on matters island resource management. The body provides a forum for all entities involved in water resources to exchange ideas and to review and encourage the implementation of local and federal initiatives, policies and agendas that are relevant to Guam's water needs. As part of its effort to stem soil erosion that has contributed to excessive sedimentation in the Ugum River Watershed, 90 third and fourth graders from Talofofo and Inarajan Elementary School helped plant 50 acres with 50,000 Acacia seedlings. These efforts to reduce soil erosion will allow island officials to continue delivering high quality potable water to residents of southern Guam, while also improving natural habitat. The committee is currently developing a strategy to address problems in the Northern Watershed.
Desert House Project (Phoenix, Arizona) The Desert House Project a collaboration between Salt River Project, the Phoenix Water Conservation Office, Office of Arid Lands Studies, Bank One and the Arizona Departments of Water Resources and Commerce demonstrates how Arizonians can live comfortably and save about 40 percent of the energy and water used in similar size houses. The house uses passive solar design and a high efficiency heat pump to cool and heat the house, and to heat water. The walls are shaded by vegetation that helps keep the house cool. Compact fluorescents light the interior at night. Equipped with low-flow showers and faucets and low-flush toilets, the Desert House reuses graywater and rainfall to irrigate the contoured landscape to direct rainfall to plants.Various families have been selected to live in the house, and all of their energy and water use have been converted into presentations so that others can learn how to use energy and water more efficiently.
Linda Tatreau, Advisor of Marine Mania, George Washington High School (Barrigada, Guam) Marine Mania is a high school group of ocean enthusiasts who meet to promote marine awareness and protection. In the past year, the group has hosted the international coastal clean-up at Pago Bay followed by monthly clean-ups at various beaches, stenciled storm drains island-wide to inform that the drains lead straight to the ocean and drinking water supplies, and raised funds for organizations promoting marine conservation world-wide. The group also planted 600 acacia seedlings to help restore the Talofofo watershed. On-campus, Marine Mania sponsors the aluminum recycling program and has adopted a courtyard as part of a campus beautification program. The group also performs short recycle skits at school assemblies followed by marine awareness parades and redecorates a large display case every two weeks that promotes marine awareness.
Surfrider Foundation (San Diego) The Surfrider Foundation, in partnership with other groups and government agencies, has developed a beach water quality information sharing system that provides the public with free beach advisory and water quality information. Beach-goers can contact Internet or telephone systems, enter their zip code, and access desired beach status information including beach advisories, beach water quality information such as causes and risks of water pollution, stormwater hazards, and waterways and boating usage tips that protect water quality. Beach status information system can be updated at any time by local entities to offer real-time information. Today's award recognizes the innovative partnership effort of Surfrider Foundation, San Diego County Department of Environmental Health, Southern California Coastal Water Research Project, Earth=s 911 and CalEPA in developing this beach information system.
Lenny Siegel, Director of Center for Public Environmental Oversight (San Francisco) Siegel is the director of Center for Public Environmental Oversight, which operates within San Francisco State University. For over a decade he has been an effective advisor to and advocate for communities across the country who are struggling with the legacy of contamination from military sites. The public, the military and regulatory agencies have recognized Siegel as an effective advocate for the protection of human health and the environment, and one who also understands the difficult issues posed by the cleanup and reuse of military bases. In addition to speaking engagements and public meeting participation, Siegel offers guidance on base closure and cleanup issues to the public through a widely distributed on-line listserver. The center also hosts conferences on technical clean-up issues, produces publications and manages a web-based environmental cleanup technology database.
Business, Industry or Trade Organization
Joe Coglaiti (Redding, California) Coglaiti's commitment to protecting the Sacramento River ecosystem is demonstrated in his work over the past 11 years as an independent contractor responsible for day- to-day operation of the Superfund remedy at Iron Mountain Mine outside of Redding, Calif. During the extreme 1995 winter storms, the site's acid mine drainage treatment plant which was designed to treat up to 1,400 gallons per minute was inundated with several thousand gallons per minute of acid mine drainage. Coglaiti and his staff worked around the clock, through the weekend, in the driving rain to contain the huge flow of acid drainage, repair the collection systems and ensure that the flows were treated. Because Coglaiti and his staff kept the acid drainage out of the nearby creeks, the important salmon spawning grounds of the upper Sacramento River were not impacted.
Kyocera Wireless Corp (San Diego) In year 2000, Kyocera Wireless Corporation, a maker of wireless phones and other equipment, accomplished several major improvements in environmental protection and conservation of natural resources. Kyocera recycled and redirected more than 60 percent -- or 2 million pounds -- of its total waste material that otherwise would have been sent to landfills. Kyocera redesigned its product packaging to radically reduce packaging volume per unit, saving the company $3.5 million. Kyocera has established proactive relationship with the local regulatory and business community to further pollution prevention goals. Kyocera has established "target teams" for recycling, chemical control, utilities and green manufacturing. These teams set annual goals and targets and consistently evaluate performance. More than $8.5 million in savings has been generated since the inception of the Environmental Management System in 1997.
Michael D. Gallo of Joseph Gallo Farms (Atwater, California) In partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Gallo developed a unique "agricultural conservation easement" on over 2,100 acres, where wildlife-compatible crops, wetlands and riparian habitats are an integral part of his dairy farm operation. The crops are managed to provide for nesting and foraging habitat for local and migratory birds as well as for feed for cattle. The innovative conservation easement is a template for other land protection efforts in the rapidly urbanizing Central Valley. To date, over 500 acres of wetland and riparian habitats have been restored on Joseph Gallo Farms landholdings. Gallo also took a profound step for an agribusiness leader in creating a Department of Environmental Affairs for the Gallo Farms operation. Wildlife professionals make up this department and work to ensure operational regulatory compliance and compatibility with the local wetland landscape.
Julie Burford of SMG at the Moscone Center (San Francisco) As Assistant General Manager of Moscone Center, Burford has launched a comprehensive recycling program for this 1.3 million square foot convention facility. In 1996 the center disposed of over 2,000 tons of waste annually, costing nearly $525,000. Burford developed a program to reduce waste, cut costs and use resources efficiently. Moscone Center now recycles tons of diverse products, from magazines and cans to wood pallets, carpet padding and scrap metal. Exhibitors are encouraged to donate unused goods to needy groups, and last year 200 volunteers collected leftover gourmet products which raised over $70,000 for local AIDS organizations. Last year, Moscone's garbage costs and volume were cut by more than 70 percent and nearly 800 tons of materials were diverted of which nearly 20 percent were donated goods. Paper recycling alone preserved approximately 1,300 cubic yards of landfill space. Through Burford's efforts, the Moscone Center has committed to setting the standard for convention center recycling.