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EPA Presents Environmental Merit Awards to three in Vermont

Release Date: 04/18/2001
Contact Information: Amy Miller, EPA Press Office (617-918-1042)

BOSTON – Three individuals and organizations from Vermont were honored today by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for their contributions to the environment.

The Vermont winners were among 33 recipients from around New England that received Environmental Merit Awards at an Earth Day ceremony at Faneuil Hall. The 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 nearly 100 nominations.

"The individuals and groups we are honoring today are New England's real environmental heroes," said Ira Leighton, acting regional administrator for EPA New England. "Often with little fanfare, they have invested huge amounts of their time to make New England's environmental cleaner and safer for future generations. We owe them all a huge debt of gratitude."

During the merit ceremonies, EPA recognized two other environmental leaders.

U.S. Rep. John Joseph Moakley of Massachusetts received a "special recognition award" for his strong commitment to environmental protection, both nationally and in New England. Nationally, Moakley has consistently had high scores for legislative votes on the environment. His efforts also helped ensure federal funding for the cleanup of Boston Harbor.

EPA New England also gave the late Donella Meadows of Hartland Four Corners, Vt, a special recognition award for being one of the great environmental authors and leaders of our day. Meadows, who taught at Dartmouth College and died this year, in 1972 co-authored "The Limits to Growth: A Report for the Club of Rome's Project on the Predicament of Mankind," a publication based on computer modeling that concluded the earth would reach its limits of growth within 100 years. More recently, she co-authored a book that pointed the way to a more sustainable future called "Beyond the Limits: Confronting Global Collapse, Envisioning a Sustainable Future."

The winners of the merit awards from Vermont were:

Dean Suagee of South Royalton
Dean Suagee launched the Indian Country Environmental Justice Clinic at the Vermont Law School and has been a leader in fostering educational opportunities for American Indian students interested in environmental careers through the law school's First Nations Environmental Law Program. The clinic, launched in 1999, offers clinical legal education to students who can then help tribal governments and inter-tribal organizations develop and carry out environmental protection programs. Students in the clinic have drafted environmental codes and advised tribal leaders of tribal rights and opportunities under federal environmental laws. Dean has also written papers describing the clinic so it can serve as a model for the creation of other clinics. The First Nations Environmental Law Program has also flourished since Dean took over its leadership in 1998. Thanks to Dean's work, there is a new wave of lawyers and environmental professionals helping American tribes and nations protect the environment.

Vermont Forum on Sprawl in Burlington
The Vermont Forum on Sprawl was founded in 1998 in response to the growing need to address the challenge of sprawl in Vermont. The group's fundamental mission was to preserve Vermont's unique working landscape and quality of life while encouraging economic vitality in community centers. Last year, the group achieved numerous accomplishments, among those: initiated and secured passage of Senate Bill 317, key legislation creating a Development Cabinet to coordinate state public investments to promote smart growth; developed legislation with the Downtown Coalition and the Dean administration to provide incentives for downtown and village development; participated in the reshaping of state water and sewer grant and loan programs that can impact sprawl; and, with the Orton Institute, developed and conducted eight statewide citizen planner training sessions on how to reinforce traditional settlement patterns in Vermont. In just a short time, the forum has had a huge impact tackling the enormous sprawl challenge.

IBM Corporation in Essex Junction
IBM's Burlington Semiconductor Manufacturing facility in Essex Junction, VT has long been active in pollution prevention and innovative environmental management practices. The facility was one of the first in New England to achieve ISO 14001 certification for its processes. While 80 to 90 percent of the programs required to satisfy the ISO criteria were in place before the standard was written, certification under ISO 14001 has heightened operational controls. Among the end results: facility-wide emissions are now down to less than 1.5 percent compared to the amount of chemicals used by the facility. The IBM facility has actively partnered with the state of Vermont and EPA-NE through EPA's XL and National Environmental Achievement Track (NEAT) programs. Two projects have been completed under Project XL to allow better management of RCRA hazardous wastes. The most recent project, completed last August, has paved the way for possible use of wastewater treatment sludge as a raw material in making cement.