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EPA Commends Environmental Achievers in New York

Release Date: 04/26/2007
Contact Information: Rich Cahill (212) 637-3666,

(New York, N.Y.) In celebration of Earth Day, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today honored 16 individuals and organizations for their outstanding efforts to protect the environment in New York. Regional Administrator Alan J. Steinberg presented EPA's Environmental Quality Awards at a ceremony in EPA's offices in Manhattan. Mayor Cory Booker of Newark, New Jersey delivered the keynote address.

"EPA applauds the tireless dedication of the award winners, who are truly environmental champions,” said Regional Administrator Alan J. Steinberg. Their extraordinary contributions make our world a better place and remind us that individuals really can make a difference.”


Individual Citizen

Debra Hall
Hopewell Junction Citizens for Clean Water
Hopewell Junction, New York

Debra Hall, a resident of Hopewell Junction, New York, has become an outspoken advocate for a number of environmental concerns including indoor air standards and well testing. Living above the contaminated plume at the Hopewell Precision Superfund site, she played a key role in getting EPA to place the site on the National Priorities List of the most hazardous waste sites. Her various public testimonies have promoted the use of specialized equipment to characterize the presence of hazardous vapors that make their way into homes from contaminated sites. She is also conservation chair of the Mid-Hudson Sierra Club and a proponent of better protective standards for the chemical TCE.

Robert Ripberger
Syracuse, New York

For most of his adult life, Robert Ripberger has been a strong advocate for the environment. An avid hunter and fisherman, he has worked for a number of causes in and around his hometown of Syracuse, New York, including the protection of wetlands and improvement of the condition of Oneida Lake. He has been an officer of the New York State Conservation Fund Advisory Board, the Onondaga County Federation of Sportsman’s Clubs, the New York State Conservation Council and the Oneida Lake Association.

Business & Industry

Delta Air Lines
Atlanta, Georgia

Delta Airlines recently replaced its fleet of ground vehicles at its LaGuardia Airport shuttle operations with clean, electric-powered vehicles and advanced high-speed battery charges. The airline is also the first in the U.S. to use a new class of high-tech electric jet pushback tractors. The project, funded by the New York Power Authority, resulted in a 98% annual reduction of emissions and removes 19.2 tons of harmful pollutants from the atmosphere. Electricity that powers the vehicles is domestically produced and will save more than 61,000 gallons of diesel fuel each year.

New York State Funeral Directors Association
Albany, New York

Up until a year or so ago, funeral directors in New York State were typically using about 120 gallons of tap water per embalming. After a careful review of the chemicals being used, the state Funeral Directors Association put together a series of best management practices that include use of an innovative technology for embalming purposes. By incorporating the new practices and technology into their embalming methods, directors were able to reduce their wastewater stream by 96% or about five gallons for each procedure.

Audubon Machinery Corporation
North Tonawanda, New York

The Audubon Machinery Corporation, headed by Joseph McMahon, attained “green building” status for its newly completed 42,000 square foot building, the first factory to achieve that designation in New York State. Green building status was awarded by the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Green Building Rating System. The new facility uses one-half the energy of a normal factory of equal size. The lighting system uses 70 percent less electricity, and the building was constructed with recycled steel, drywall and carpet. During construction more than 100 tons of material was diverted out of landfills for recycling.

Non-Profit Organization, Environmental or Community Group

Akwesasne Task Force on the Environment
Hogansburg, New York

The Akwesasne Task Force on the Environment was formed in 1987 to address environmental problems faced by this Mohawk community. The overall goals of the task force include developing training, education and environmental advocacy programs. A recent initiative included the planting of 37,000 trees, including 15,000 Black Ash, scientific research, information dissemination and partnership building. Restoration of Black Ash, a species of tree native to an area of upstate New York where the Mohawk live, started 15 years ago and aids in controlling greenhouse gases while providing materials for traditional medicines and basket making.

Rich Schiafo
Scenic Hudson / Friends of the Hudson
Poughkeepsie, New York

Rich Schiafo is Environmental Project Manager of Scenic Hudson, a 10,000-member organization that has sought to protect and restore the Hudson River and its landscape since its founding in 1963. Mr. Schiafo is also chair of Friends of the Hudson, the organization representing health, environmental protection and environmental justice issues in the area of the Hudson polluted by PCBs. He has worked extensively with local, state and federal officials to ensure that the Hudson River cleanup includes the full range of cleanup strategies and best available technologies.

Green Map System
New York, New York

For the past 12 years, the Green Map System has helped chart local sustainability, natural and cultural resources, with input from community leaders and concerned citizens. More than 275 Green Maps are in print or on-line. The Green Map System is a locally adaptable, globally shared framework for environmental mapmaking. It invites design teams of all ages and backgrounds to illuminate the connections between natural and human environments by mapping their local urban or rural community. Mapmakers independently produce unique, regionally flavored images that fulfill local needs, yet are globally connected.

Environmental Education

Urban Park Rangers
“The Natural Classroom”
New York City Department of Parks & Recreation
New York, New York

The Urban Park Rangers, a division of the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, conducts a park-based environmental education program entitled, “The Natural Classroom.” This program has provided environmental training to 200 teachers serving more than 30,000 students. The Natural Classroom consists of nine distinct programs ranging from ornithology and ecology to conservation and exploration. It allows the educators to maximize the natural and cultural resources available with the city parks.

Steve and Julie Noble
City of Kingston Parks and Recreation
Kingston, New York

Since 2005, Steve and Julie Noble, environmental educators with the City of Kingston Parks and Recreation Department’s Forsyth Nature Center, have implemented hundreds of environmental education programs that encourage understanding and awareness of the natural flora and fauna of the Kingston community. The programs include: nature walks, kayaking trips, bird watching, composting, trail cleanups, and tree planting. Programs are directed toward students from pre-kindergarten through eighth grade, and for members of the general public at large.

Jen Kretser
Adirondack Mountain Club
Lake Placid, New York

As Education Director of the Adirondack Mountain Club, Jen Kretser creates education programs that provide opportunities for individuals and groups to develop skills, knowledge, understanding and appreciation of the natural environment. Her Summer Naturalist Internship Program reaches thousands of visitors to the Adirondacks with information on natural history, low impact wilderness practices and back country safety, and provides quality training for a new generation of environmental educators. She also runs a snowshoe clinic program for children who live in the state park that promotes healthy recreation and wilderness awareness.

Mary Leou, Ed.D.
New York, New York

Dr. Mary Leou has more than 20 years of experience as an urban environmental educator. She is currently director of the Wallerstein Collaborative for Urban Environmental Education at New York University. Under her guidance, the collaborative has infused environmental education into graduate and undergraduate teacher education programs. Over 200 high school students have learned about educational careers in museums, nature centers, governmental agencies and environmental organizations, and 700 undergraduates have been placed in non-formal settings such as parks, botanic gardens, zoo and aquariums in the New York Metropolitan area.

Federal, State, Local or Tribal Government or Agency

Federal Transit Administration (Lower Manhattan Recovery Office)
Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Capital Construction)
Lower Manhattan Development Corporation
Lower Manhattan Construction Command Center
New York State Department of Transportation (Route 9A Project)
Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (WTC Transportation Projects)
Environmental Performance Commitments Program
New York, New York

The Federal Transit Administration, Metropolitan Transit Authority, Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, New York State Department of Transportation, Lower Manhattan Development Corporation and the Lower Manhattan Construction Command Center engaged in a range of innovative approaches to minimize the environmental impacts of construction during the recovery of Lower Manhattan. The organizations also participated with EPA in sharing the approaches and techniques with other agencies and organizations, resulting in cleaner redevelopment for Lower Manhattan.

Center for Integrated Waste Management
University at Buffalo, State University of New York
Buffalo, New York

Founded in 1987, the Center for Integrated Waste Management was established by the New York State Legislature to initiate and coordinate research and technology development in the areas of toxic substances and hazardous wastes. The center was responsible for the formation of the Western New York Brownfields Training Initiative; redevelopment assistance to a number of New York communities, such as Elmira, Lackawanna and Gowanda; and creation of the New York State Environmental Remediation and Restoration Information Network.

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
Waste Tire Stockpile Abatement Program

Empire State Development
Scrap Tire Recycling Market Development Program
Albany, New York

The New York State Departments of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and Economic Development (DED) have combined efforts to address the state’s 29 million tires in 95 non-compliant waste tire stockpiles, and improve the recycling markets for the 20 million waste tires generated annually. Today, 8.3 million tires have been abated by DEC at the waste tire sites. DED has created additional capacity to turn seven million tires from the annual waste stream into finely ground rubber for use in a number of other applications.

Stony Brook University Hospital
Stony Brook, New York
With a concerted effort spurred by its environmental health and safety group, Stony Brook University Hospital has significantly reduced its use of mercury; increased its paper, cardboard and wood pallet recycling; increased its use of green products; established a hazardous waste minimization and recycling program; promoted sustainability and introduced an integrated pest management program. Hospitals for a Healthy Environment awarded the school the prestigious “Making Medicine Mercury Free Award.”

EPA selects Environmental Quality Award winners from non-profit, environmental and community groups, individual citizens, educators, business organizations and members of the news media, as well as from federal, state, local or tribal governments and agencies. The honor is given to those individuals or organizations that have made significant contributions to improving the environment in EPA Region 2, which covers New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and seven federally-recognized Indian Nations. The Agency receives nominations for the awards from both inside and outside EPA. For information about the Environmental Quality Awards in EPA Region 2, go to