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Release Date: 10/22/1998
Contact Information: Leo Kay, EPA Press Office, (617) 918-4154 Bill Mitchell, Mayor's Office, (802)865-7275

BOSTON -- During a ceremony held at the Lake Champlain Science Center today, the EPA's New England Administrator John P. DeVillars joined Burlington, Vt. Mayor Peter Clavelle and others to announce the awarding of a $500,000 grant for monitoring air and water quality in the Burlington area.

The funding will be used to devise new systems to bring understandable, timely environmental information to local residents so that people can make informed, day-to-day decisions about their lives. Two of the project's first tasks will entail implementing monitoring, processing and dissemination schemes to address urban air quality issues (especially particulates and emissions) and water quality degradation affecting Lake Champlain and city beaches.

"This money will help Vermonters come together to identify, assess and track Burlington's most pressing environmental issues, while also making this information useful and understandable for local residents," DeVillars said. "The project will start off by looking at air and water quality issues, and then branch out into a number of other areas that impact the public health and well being of local residents. In the end run, we aim to provide a safer, cleaner environment for the local community."

"This EPA EMPACT funding will support a working partnership among community institutions and citizens that will enable us to assess and address the quality of the air we breathe and the lake water we drink and swim in," Clavelle said. "Few projects are as fundamental to the long-term health and sustainability of our city."

Senator Patrick Leahy, who had written Administrator Browner in support of the Burlington application, said, "The grant will create a new partnership and provide the community with timely data to address environmental concerns. These partners will make effective use of this award."

"I am very pleased to see the EPA working proactively with the city of Burlington on so many fronts," said Sen. James Jeffords. "By including a number of partners, and beginning work right at the grass roots level, this project is sure to bring immediate environmental and educational benefits to Burlington residents."

"Protecting our environment should be one of our highest priorities, and giving communities and states the resources they need to deal with local environmental concerns is a highly appropriate role for the federal government to play," said Rep. Bernie Sanders. "This grant will help us gather vital information that will lay the foundation for helping us come up with solutions to several important local environmental issues. Congratulations to everyone working on this project, and my office stands ready to assist in any way we can."

The grant recipients and project coordinator will study and devise solutions for issues in the Burlington area such as:

    • reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 10 percent from 1990 levels by 2005;
    • redeveloping more than 20 "brownfields";
    • building an "eco-park";
    • renovating land for organic agriculture;
    • mitigating dust from a local wood chip fired power station; and
    • restoring oil stained waterfront along Lake Champlain.
The Environmental Monitoring for Public Access and Community Tracking (EMPACT) funding will be used by the city of Burlington, University of Vermont, Lake Champlain Science Center and Green Mountain Institute for Environmental Democracy to hire a project coordinator to coordinate the activities of a consortium of scientists, engineers, data specialists, educators and public process facilitators.

Burlington is one of nine cities in the country -- out of 135 who applied -- to receive EMPACT funding. The program was created at the request of President Clinton in 1996 to bring to people up to date environmental information that could be understood and used every day.