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EPA to Honor Five Hawai'i Environmental Heros

Release Date: 4/21/2003
Contact Information: Dean Higuchi, (808) 541-2711; Leo Kay, (415) 947-4306

SAN FRANCISCO -- During the Agency's fifth annual Environmental Awards Ceremony in San Francisco tomorrow, U.S. EPA Regional Administrator Wayne Nastri will present plaques to five Hawaii organizations and individuals in recognition of their efforts to protect and preserve the environment in 2002.

"These groups and individuals have applied creativity, teamwork and leadership in addressing many of Hawaii's most pressing and complex environmental problems," Nastri said. "Thanks to their efforts, 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. Forty four groups and individuals were selected from more than 200 nominees received this year from businesses, media, local, state and federal government officials, tribes, environmental organizations andcitizen activists.

The Hawaii winners and basis for recognition are:

Hickam Air Force Base
Linda Lewis, Ronnie Lanier, Jim Tayon

In 2002, Hickam Air Force Base implemented an outstanding environmentally preferable purchasing program. The environmental impacts of purchasing programs are tremendous. For example, buying recycled paper cuts air pollution associated with virgin paper production by 74 percent, cuts water pollution by 35 percent, and saves 12 percent of the energy used to produce paper. Hickam established recycled product procurement of more than 50 products ranging from re-refined oil to cement containing flyash to recycled paper products. Hickam changed purchasing practices by implementing an "affirmative procurement plan" and providing monthly training on environmental purchasing not only to procurement officials, but also to contractors, soldiers, government employees, and credit card holders. The base requires written unit commander authorization to buy products that do not meet their high environmental purchasing standards. Hickam's environmental purchasing program is definitely one of the best in the region.

Photo of Hawaii Bottle Bill award recipientsHawaii Bottle Bill
Suzanne Jones, Department of Environmental Services
Gretchen Ammerman, Hawaii Department of Health
Jeff Mikulina, Sierra Club
Representative Hermina M. Morita

Hawai'i became the 11th state to pass a container deposit law or "bottle bill," and the first state to pass a bottle bill in 16 years. The Hawaii bottle bill will impose a nickel deposit on all beverage cans and bottles except milk beginning in 2005. The deposits will be refunded to consumers when the beverage containers are returned for recycling. The bill also phases in an additional charge of up to one and a half cents per beverage container that the state Department of Health will use to support recycling. If the U.S. could increase beverage container recycling from the current national rate of approximately 40 percent to at least 80 percent a rate that has been reached in most bottle bill states we could save the energy equivalent of 42 million barrels of crude oil, or enough energy to meet the electrical needs of 7 million U.S. homes. Hawai'i's leadership in reducing waste will breathe new life into the campaign to conserve resources and make beverage producers responsible for their packaging waste.

PRISM award recipientsProviding Resolutions with Integrity for a Sustainable Molokai (PRISM)
Kualapuu School, Kualapuu

"Providing Resolutions with Integrity for a Sustainable Molokai" is the mission of PRISM students, who look at tough environmental issues as opportunities for learning and developing collaborative partnerships. In 2002, PRISM students provided curbside recycling services for three areas of the island, and designed and implemented a school recycling program. PRISM students worked with State Representative Hermina Morita to introduce bottle bill legislation, followed the bottle bill through the legislative process and presented their data before two committee hearings. The bill passed in 2002. Each year, fifth- and sixth- grade PRISM students select one environmental issue for investigation. Students gather background information and write research questions and data collection instruments. They plan and host a symposium to share their investigations with the community. These island students have made "business" trips all the way to Texas, Alaska, Japan, and neighbor islands to share their research.

Ohi'a Productions award recipients'Ohi'a Productions
'Ohi'a Productions "Educational Road Shows Program" sends small troupes of actors to schools, public, and private events to educate audiences on key environmental issues through singing, dancing, and puppetry. Show themes range from native ecosystems to watersheds to coral reef protection. Every show concludes with information on how the environment is harmed, and what humans can do to protect our world. Last year, approximately 36,000 schoolchildren throughout the islands attended the popular and highly educational play performances. In testiment to the show's tremendous popularity, the company received a grant from Hawaiian Airlines to tour the plays statewide, and with support from the State Departments of Health, and Land & Natural Resources, videos were made and copies provided to every elementary school and public library in the state.

Crop Care Hawaii
Crop care Hawaii award recipientsCrop Care Hawaii
John McHugh and Lynn Constanides, Aiea
Dramatic changes are occurring in Hawaiian agriculture. Large plantations are closing. Small independent farmers are leasing agricultural lands and growing a variety of crops where a single crop of sugarcane grew. Many of these independent farmers are native to Laos, Vietnam, China, Korea, Thailand and the Philippines, do not understand English, and are suspicious of government agencies. Crop Care Hawaii provides pest control consulting services to this new class of farmers in Hawaii. For example, when a flood caused significant damage in a production area leased by small farmers, Crop Care Hawaii assisted them in securing financial assistance to begin again. Crop Care Hawaii offers many types of pesticide regulatory training too, including worker protection system training for other trainers, agricultural workers and pesticide handlers. In the past two years, McHugh and Constanides trained 77 new trainers on the Worker Protection Standard; offered integrated pest management classes and on farm consulting services to non-English proficient farmers; and offered classes for pesticide applicators on pesticide safety and pest management strategies.