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Two Individuals & One Group From Connecticut Receive Environmental Awards

Release Date: 05/17/2005
Contact Information:

Contact: David Deegan, EPA Office of Public Affairs, (617) 918-1017,

For Immediate Release: May 17, 2005; Release #dd050515

(Boston - May 17, 2005) Two Connecticuters and one group from the Nutmeg State were honored today in Boston’s Faneuil Hall as EPA presented the 2005 Environmental Merit Awards. Recognizing significant contributions to environmental awareness and problem solving, the Connecticut awardees included one for individual contributions, one for efforts by environmental/community/academia/non-profit organizations, and one lifetime achievement award.

The merit awards, given out since 1970, 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 70 nominations from across New England.

“These awards are among the highest honors EPA can bestow to recognize environmental accomplishments,” said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator for EPA’s New England Office. “The work of these individuals, organizations and businesses reflect the best attributes of New Englanders, working to find solutions to environmental issues. I offer my gratitude for their extraordinary contributions in protecting the environment.”

The winners from Connecticut were among 38 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 Connecticut are:
Lifetime Achievement Environmental Merit Award:
Arthur J. Rocque, Jr.

Arthur J. Rocque, Jr., former Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection, was hired as a staff member when the department was being created in 1972. He worked for six commissioners in technical and managerial positions. Initially hired to work on developing air pollution regulations, he was assigned to many different programs before being appointed assistant commissioner of the Office of Long Island Sound Programs in 1990, assistant commissioner of Air, Waste and Water Programs in 1994 and commissioner in October 1997. When he retired in October 2004, he had a list of accomplishments. Among them: creation of Connecticut's Office of Long Island Sound Programs; Creation of the most comprehensive mercury reduction program in the nation; putting in place one of the nation's first clean school bus programs in Norwich; leading state's efforts to acquire more than 50,000 acres in open space over a six- year period, and developing the state's comprehensive Clean Marina Program. He also taught numerous seminars in colleges and universities throughout the northeast on environmental resource management and regulation. We honor Art for a lifetime of service protecting the environment in Connecticut and beyond.

Individual Environmental Merit Award:
Richard Edmonds (CT Dept. of Public Health)

Richard Edmonds, Assistant Chief of Staff at the Connecticut Department of Public Health, has been an innovator in protecting public health and improving environmental conditions for children at schools and day care centers. Thanks to Richard, Connecticut is a national leader in efforts to protect the health of children in environments away from home. Among other things, Richard commissioned a project to improve the drinking water infrastructure at public schools after he saw that several schools were struggling with drinking water issues. Richard had his engineers evaluate the water at all 147 schools with private supplies. He partnered with the state Department of Education for funding. Almost all of the schools surveyed used the chance to correct violations. Richard also collaborated with the Daycare Licensing Division to ensure a center cannot be licensed until a division engineer approves of the water safety. Richard has also been a leader in other public health and environmental arenas, including lead prevention, asbestos, food protection, sewage disposal, and indoor air.

Environmental, Community, Academia & Non-Profit Organization Environmental Merit Award:
The Institute for Sustainable Energy - Eastern Connecticut State University

The Institute for Sustainable Energy at Eastern Connecticut State University has taken the lead by putting in place three environmental initiatives adopted in the Connecticut Climate Change Action Plan. Each of the initiatives is earmarked for application statewide to meet targets set by the Climate Change Action Plans of both the state and the New England Governors/Eastern Canadian Premiers. The Institute's strategy leverages resources from EPA that help managers assess their buildings and the local utility conservation programs to improve energy efficiency and reduce emissions among energy users that typically lack resources to address these issues. The institute helps eight communities identify inefficient public facilities. It has investigated efficiency at more than 100 public schools and public municipal buildings. The process helps building managers target resources to improve energy efficiency and encourages communities to work together to attract outside funding. The analysis of schools revealed that Connecticut's schools are generally inefficient, with a potential to reduce energy consumption by one third through conservation. The state has turned to the institute for work on its largest facilities. The institute assessed energy efficiency at the six largest office buildings of the Conn. Department of Public Works and is asking the institute to look at 30 more state facilities. The state of Connecticut has 1,400 office buildings and is facing a serious budget shortfall, making conservation a high priority. Institute provides technical resources and support to schools and challenges them to take a comprehensive approach to lowering energy use.

Related Information:
Environmental Merit

2005 Recipients