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EPA Commends Environmental Achievers in New York

Release Date: 04/21/2005
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For Immediate Release: Thursday, April 21, 2005

#05038) NEW YORK -- In celebration of the 35th anniversary of Earth Day, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today honored twenty-five individuals and organizations for their outstanding efforts to protect the environment in New York. Deputy Regional Administrator George Pavlou presented EPA's Environmental Quality Awards and acknowledged winners and runners-up for the President's Environmental Youth Award (PEYA) at a ceremony in EPA's offices in Manhattan. New York City Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe, who was also commended for his continued dedication to protecting the environment, delivered the keynote address.

"These winners are environmental trail blazers who make our world a better place,"said Deputy Regional Administrator Pavlou. "By being leaders and making local changes, the award recipients demonstrate that we can all have a positive impact on the health of our nation's air, land and water."

EPA selects Environmental Quality Award winners from non-profit, environmental and community groups, individual citizens, educators, business organizations and members of the news media. 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.

EPA also acknowledged the winner and honorable mention recipients in the annual President's Environmental Youth Award (PEYA) program. This program encourages young people to study the environment and better understand their relationship to it. The national competition is open to students from kindergarten through twelfth grade who actively participate in noteworthy environmental projects. Out of the hundreds of competitors, one winner is chosen from each of EPA's ten regions and several others are chosen to receive honorable mentions. This years' winners received the award today from President Bush in a White House Rose Garden ceremony. New York City's Ambassador of the Birdhouse Network, James Rodriguez Quadrino, received a PEYA for instituting and maintaining a nest box trail at Mount Loretto Park in Staten Island and helping the residents. Additionally, Zev Spiro, who started "Besidesbooks"with his high school students in mind, was given a PEYA honorable mention for his program to reduce paper in the solid waste stream and reuse books. For more information about either competition, go to


Individual Citizen

Mike Rewinski, Dr. Marty Petrovic, and Dr. James Baird
Mike Rewinski, Golf Course Superintendent of the Westhampton Country Club, A. Martin Petrovic, Ph.D., a professor at Cornell University's Department of Horticulture and James H. Baird, Ph.D., an agronomist in the Greens Section of the Northeast Regional Office of the U.S. Golf Association, were all instrumental in the success of the
Long Island East End Nitrogen Management Challenge for Golf Courses. They took a leadership role in convincing 31 out of 35 Long Island golf course owners and superintendents to participate in the Challenge that focused on improving fertilizer management on their respective courses. The nitrogen in fertilizers used on golf courses was known to degrade groundwater and coastal water quality, and to impact habitats and living resources. Their early participation in the EPA-sponsored program was crucial to getting golf courses to join, and it went a long way toward helping to improve environmental management on East End golf courses.

Yolanda Garcia (posthumous)
Yolanda Garcia, the late director of We Stay/Nos Quedamos Committee, was an ardent activist and fighter for environmental justice and community development. Thirteen years ago she helped organize residents of the South Bronx to demand a role in the Melrose Commons Urban Renewal Program, an area revitalization effort. Ms. Garcia helped to elevate EPA's awareness of the community's perspective on some of the negative impacts of municipal waste transfer stations. In 2000, she established a multi-year partnership with New York University and local non-profits to conduct research and community education about the causes of the asthma crisis. She passed away on February 17, 2005 after a long and illustrious career as an environmental and community advocate.

Rebecca Kalin
Rebecca Kalin is the project coordinator of Asthma Free School Zone (AFSZ), an organization that views asthma as a community concern, not just the plight of an individual. AFSZ seeks to reduce absenteeism among school children that is caused by asthma-related illnesses by improving the air quality in the vicinity of schools through six health-related measures. These include designation of no-idling zones, classroom asthma education, faculty and staff training, the availability of asthma management equipment, community outreach and tracking of asthma-related absenteeism as a way of assessing program effectiveness. Rebecca started AFSZ at a school in the East Village and is now taking the program to the South Bronx, and Central and East Harlem.

Mayor William Johnson
William Johnson is mayor of Rochester, New York , and a terrific supporter of EPA's Rochester Initiative, a comprehensive effort to remediate environmental impacts and create a city-wide awareness of environmentally-sound behavior. He has led the city in developing and implementing brownfields assistance programs, under which many tainted sites have been cleaned up and redeveloped into residential, commercial and sporting facilities. These remediations have resulted in a $23 million soccer stadium, residential complexes, creation of over 225 new jobs and the retention of 548 jobs, and increased industrial space. He also created the "Neighbors Building Neighbors"program, which is a model for engaging and empowering neighborhoods to take environmental actions, as well as social actions to improve their communities.

Michael Burke
Mike Burke is the very recently retired director of the New York State Department of Health's Bureau of Public Water Supply Protection. Mike headed the Bureau for more than two decades and, in that capacity, was a leader in the state's efforts to create and implement a comprehensive safe drinking water program. He took his experience to the national level as well, as a member of the
Association of State Drinking Water Administrators. Mike's contributions to clean and safe drinking water have been recognized at the local, state and national level, and his practices have been emulated by administrators nationwide.

Business & Industry

All Island Transportation
All Island Transportation of Mineola, Long Island is the first Long Island taxi fleet to launch a natural gas vehicle program. The company worked with the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) and U.S. Department of Transportation Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality through the Greater Long Island Clean Cities coalition to convert part of its fleet to compressed natural gas (CNG). The company began operating 40 CNG-powered Ford Crown Victoria sedans in 2004. Approximately 1,000 pounds of airborne pollutants will be eliminated by using the CNG cabs instead of gasoline-powered cars, along with a displacement of 260,000 gallons of gasoline per year over the life of the vehicles.

Federal, State, Local, or Tribal Government or Agency

New York City Department of Environmental Protection
The Staten Island Bluebelt Program

The Staten Island Bluebelt Program is one of the Northeast's most ambitious efforts to alleviate local flooding and water quality problems by maximizing the use of innovative storm water "Best Management Practices"(BMPs). Through a system of over 90 carefully selected BMPs, New York City's Department of Environmental Protection is providing area-wide flood relief and water quality benefits to a 14,000 acre region on Staten Island, encompassing a total of 19 watersheds. The initiatives that fall under the BMPs include a combination of extended detention basins, outlet stilling basins, meandering streams and constructed wetlands. Construction is intended to be complete by 2010.

Gary Litwin
New York State Department of Health

Gary Litwin, Bureau Director of Environmental Exposure Investigation for the
New York State Department of Health , directed his groups' efforts in creating an official guidance document to address vapor intrusion into indoor air. Under his watch, the advisory "Guidance for Evaluating Soil Vapor Intrusion in the State of New York"was developed. This document is an important step in achieving a consistent approach in evaluating and protecting public health from this exposure pathway – vapor intrusion from contaminated groundwater and soil into indoor air. It also outlines an approach to utilize in deciding when remedial actions should be taken to reduce exposure and protect human health.

G. Anders Carlson
New York State Department of Health

As Division Director for the
New York State Department of Health Office of Environmental Exposure Investigation, Andy Carlson oversees a group of professionals whose primary goal is the protection of human health and safety related to hazardous waste cleanups. This is done in accordance with applicable state and federal regulations - many of which he helped formulate. He is exceptionally committed to the health and well-being of the citizens of New York and he is equally adept at working with members of the private and public sector. He has worked closely with EPA, DEC and the rehabilitation efforts of Love Canal, the Western New York site that was a driving force behind the creation of Superfund.

Monroe County Department of Public Health
Monroe County Department of Public Health (MCDPH) has been an important partner organization in EPA's Rochester Initiative, a comprehensive effort to remediate environmental impacts and create a city-wide awareness of environmentally-sound behavior. MCDPH has taken a leadership position in many local environmental programs including: organizing volunteers for stream monitoring, educating homeowners on water quality matters and environmentally-friendly lawn care practices, volunteer storm water outfall monitoring, watershed cleanups, and training for municipal employees and administrators on roadway storm water and fleet maintenance best management practices. The Department has also established a Childhood Led Poisoning Prevention Program which provides community-wide education on lead poisoning issues to the general public, health professionals, property owners, painting contractors and parents.

New York City Department of Sanitation
The New York Department of Sanitation (DSNY) has one of the most advanced and environmentally friendly fleets of refuse trucks in the nation. DSNY has taken a number of steps to implement technologies to reduce the overall diesel emissions which are responsible for a significant amount of air pollution. The agency purchased alternative fuel vehicles and environment-friendly mechanical sweepers and is in the process of retrofitting 68 refuse vehicles, which operate exclusively in the South Bronx, with diesel oxidation catalysts, crankcase filtration systems and ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel. In partnership with EPA, DSNY co-hosts the "Clean Streets/Clean Beaches"campaign that is carried out by EPA, city and state agencies each year.

Environmental Education

The P.S. 94Q Recycling Squad
Since the early 1990's, P.S. 94, a Queens elementary school, has taken a leadership position in introducing recycling in the area's school system. Under the guidance of Andrea Franke, the school's science teacher, and Kevin Shea of the maintenance staff, P.S. 94 became the first District 26/Region 3 school to attain full recycling. One of their projects is the "Cozy Comfort Pillow Project"which consists of children shredding recyclable paper, and stuffing and decorating pillow cases to be used as seat cushions. The cushions are then sold as fund-raisers. The entire school is tuned into recycling. Upper class students have taught kindergarten and lower grade students about the relationship between Clean Streets and Clean Beaches, playground cleanup and separating recyclables and reusing items for art projects.

New York State Outdoor Education Association
The New York State Outdoor Education Association (NYSOEA) is the primary state-wide environmental education association for New York. Divided into five regions, NYSOEA provides its members and their audiences with an appreciation of nature and the total environment. Membership includes teachers, environmental educators, college instructors, naturalists, youth leaders, students and administrators. The organization helps classroom teachers and youth leaders use the outdoors to enrich their curricula; it promotes awareness of the value of outdoor and environmental education; acts as a unified voice supporting the fields of environmental education, outdoor education and outdoor recreation; and it fosters a life-long appreciation of stewardship of the environment.

Non-Profit Organization, Environmental or Community Group

Roger T. Gray
The Sierra Club

Roger Gray is the voluntary co-chair of the
Sierra Club's Northeast Regional Office of the Committee on the Adirondacks. As committee co-chair he has defended this beautiful and natural area of New York from the onslaught of snowmobiles. Reacting to a state draft snowmobile plan, Roger has issued a "call to arms"among environmentalists to challenge the Plan. In 1972, the State Master Plan provided for snowmobile areas. The state draft plan seeks an expansion of those earlier rules and, according to Roger, the creation of a "snowmobile superhighway on state land."The Adirondack Park is the largest publicly-protected area in the mainland United States and Roger is doing everything he can to help it remain a "quiet and peaceful"park.

Christian Ballantyne
The Sierra Club

Chris Ballantyne is Senior Regional Representative for the
Sierra Club's Northeast Office. A 20-year veteran of the Sierra Club, he is currently responsible for the Club's Hudson River, Northeast Wilderness and Maine Woods Programs. He is also a member of the Governor's Taskforce on the Hudson River Cleanup. During his tenure, he has worked on a wide variety of policy issues including: Superfund, Clean Water, Acid Rain, Clean Air and Appropriations. One of his current projects is the Great Oswegatchie Canoe Wilderness Campaign, which calls for New York State to further protect largely undeveloped land in the region and to open currently inaccessible canoe routes to stimulate tourism in this portion of the Adirondacks.

Center for Environmental Information
The Center for Environmental Information (CEI) of Rochester, New York, has achieved a reputation as a credible, community-based forum for environmental information. It helped create the Rochester Green Business Network which brings together businesses, institutions and professionals that share a mutual concern for the environment, and promotes good environmental management in businesses throughout the area. CEI was a catalyst for Monroe County municipalities to implement "sensible salting"techniques for area roadways. CEI has also been a significant and indispensable partner in EPA's Rochester Community Initiative, and has contributed much to the Lake Ontario Coastal Initiative and the EPA-sponsored Community Action for Renewed Environment program, two key area environmental programs.

Resident Action Group of Endicott
The Resident Action Group of Endicott, New York (RAGE) was created to respond to a large chemical spill by IBM in their community. Many of the houses in the area have been outfitted with venting systems for toxic vapors caused by the chemicals. RAGE acts as a clearinghouse for information on the spill and reports to the community and other stakeholders on health issues, property values and legal matters. The local group has initiated health data collection, environmental research, community education and outreach, and political awareness. RAGE's members include local teachers, professors, religious leaders and other professionals, making it an eclectic, informed and representative group. RAGE has become a strong community advocate, keeping government agencies and political officials committed to the community's cause.

Going Coastal, Inc.
Going Coastal is a one-year-old non-profit, all volunteer organization formed to promote understanding, appreciation, enjoyment and preservation of urban coastal resources. The group published Going Coastal New York City, a guide to waterfront access in the five boroughs. The guide informs residents and visitors about recreational, cultural, historic and natural coastal resources and outlines ways for them to participate in the preservation and restoration of the waterfront. It also restored to print and updated A Maritime History of New York to help raise awareness of the history of New York as a seaport. The book had been out of print for 60 years. Going Coastal has donated many of its books, brochures and bookmarks to water advocacy and children-oriented organizations in the New York City area.

New York Academy of Sciences
The New York Academy of Sciences (NYAS) has made a significant contribution to the understanding of mercury pollution in the New York/New Jersey Harbor. The research and recommendations in the document, Pollution Prevention and Management Strategies for Mercury in the New York/New Jersey Harbor, which resulted from a multi-stakeholder collaborative process, have yielded an original contribution that will significantly aid regulatory agencies in understanding the relative magnitude and sources of mercury pollution and opportunities for pollution prevention in the harbor. In particular, the study identified the unexpected size of the contribution of mercury to the harbor from dental amalgams from dentist's offices. The NYAS has also contributed to the further understanding of the risk impact of mercury releases to different media, such as air, land and water.

Lower Washington Heights Neighborhood Association
The Lower Washington Heights Neighborhood Association (LWHNA) and its principals, John Culpepper and Edgar Freud, is an environmental neighborhood watchdog. John has been concerned about air quality in this Harlem community since the mid-1990s when he learned about the high incidence of childhood asthma rates in the area. He and his associates encouraged EPA to locate air monitors on West 182nd Street. With their own monitoring equipment, John and Edgar have identified "hot spots"where particulate matter in the air is at higher than acceptable concentration levels, and they have monitored and reported the results of their testing to state agencies and elected officials. The LWHNA has become a valuable reporting group for the New York Metropolitan Transportation Council and other organizations.

Little Sisters of the Assumption
The Little Sisters of the Assumption Family Health Service (LSAFHS) is a community-based organization that has offered health-oriented programs to children and families in East Harlem for nearly half a century. Several years ago, the Health Service instituted a childhood asthma program that serves as a referral of last resort for asthmatic children whose poor housing is thought to contribute to their condition. The program involves in-home health education, environmental testing and remediation, education, social service referrals and housing advocacy. Last year, the Little Sisters hosted an art competition for 75 neighborhood asthmatic children. The program also produced a teaching video on mold and how to safely clean indoor mold. The video, "Learning About Mold,"is also available in DVD and it is narrated in both English and Spanish.

The Coalition for Environmentally Responsible Conventions
The Coalition for Environmentally Responsible Conventions (CERC) was founded in 2002 by 15 Boston area environmentalists who believed that they could influence both the 2004 Democratic and Republican conventions to conduct their business in an environmentally-friendly way. They were soon joined by many other organizations with similar goals. They met with a great deal of success in minimizing the environmental impacts of both conventions in terms of energy, waste reduction, transportation and use of local food. They persuaded General Motors to donate the use of hybrid buses for conventioneers in Boston and New York; they purchased and acquired renewable energy certificates to offset greenhouse gas emissions; they influenced the Fleet Center in Boston to write reuse and recycle clauses into its construction contracts; and they conducted environmental events in both host cities.

New York/New Jersey Trail Conference
The New York/New Jersey Trail Conference has provided communities and public agencies with the human resources needed to build and maintain hiking trails. The Conference is a network of 88 outdoor clubs whose mission is to: build and maintain public hiking trails, protect and enlarge public open space through grassroots advocacy and land acquisition, and to educate people in responsible use of trails and the natural environment. To do this, the conference recruits, trains and deploys more than 1,500 volunteers who last
year contributed 38,000 hours of volunteer labor. Among the trails built and maintained are the trails at Jockey Hollow area of the Morristown National Historical Park, the Appalachian Trail and the Highland Trail.

2004 President's Environmental Youth Award Recipient
Region 2 Winner
James Rodriguez Quadrino
"Saving Staten Island's Cavity-Nesters"

Urban sprawl on Staten Island is destroying natural habitat for indigenous birds. "Cavity-Nesters,"birds that build their nests in natural cavities or holes in trees, are especially affected. Four species of rare birds who build their homes in cavities, including American Kestrels, Barn Owls, Eastern Bluebirds and Wood Ducks, are the focus of James' attention.

James built, set up and maintains a nest box trail at Mount Loretto Park. Building nest boxes to provide nesting cavities in areas where trees are not so plentiful will provide habitats for the cavity-nesters and help protect these rare birds. James set up seven boxes in February 2004. When spring began, the birds started to return to the area and some nested in the boxes. Tree Swallows occupied two of the boxes and he identified a total of 11 eggs. The other five boxes showed that birds were preparing to nest in them as well.

In addition, James acts as Ambassador of the Birdhouse Network for New York City, which is sponsored by Cornell's Laboratory on Ornithology. In his role, he has a permit to monitor the nest boxes, and he acts as an "answer man"for residents who have questions about birds.

Honorable Mention
Zev Spiro

Zev Spiro started "Besidesbooks"with his high school students in mind. It is a program dedicated to reducing paper in the solid waste stream, reusing books and teaching members of the community that materials once cherished by one person can be used and appreciated by someone else. Books are collected via the Internet and they are distributed to non-profit organizations throughout the United States. The students developed a Web page, guidelines for the book program, a start-up kit, introduction letter and a poster. Through "Besidesbooks,"hundreds of people have learned to recycle books and "save trees."