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EPA Celebrates Earth Day by Recognizing 17 from Massachusetts With Environmental Merit Awards

Release Date: 04/22/2003
Contact Information: Peyton Fleming, EPA Press Office, 617-918-1008

BOSTON – In honor of Earth Day, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's New England Office today recognized 17 individuals and organizations from Massachusetts with Environmental Merit Awards, including four lifetime achievement awards. 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 from across New England.

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

The winners from Massachusetts were among 40 from across New England. Awards were given in the categories of individual; business (including professional organizations); local, state or federal government; and environmental, community, academia or nonprofit organization. Also, for the first time, special lifetime achievement awards were presented this year.

Winners from Massachusetts were:

Lifetime Achievement Awards:

Posthumous Award
Joel Feigenbaum, Sandwich
- Joel Feigenbaum was a fierce guardian of people's right to clean air, water and land, and he insisted that government honor that right. He spent his life as an exceptionally intelligent and effective advocate for government actions to protect public health. A theoretical physicist and professor at Cape Cod Community College, Dr. Feigenbaum spent decades studying elevated cancer rates on the Upper Cape, devoting countless hours reviewing technical reports, attending literally hundreds of meetings, asking tough questions and voicing objections to practices that posed a threat to public health in Upper Cape communities. His decades of work as a citizen activist concerned about groundwater pollution from training and other practices at the Massachusetts Military Reservation were instrumental in getting regionwide and ultimately national attention to contamination at the base, leading to perhaps the most extensive environmental investigation and cleanup of any military training base in the U.S. His skill at getting government to work for the people came from his rare blend of intelligence, passion, energy, and willingness to sacrifice. As a result, Dr. Feigenbaum was a model for citizen activists throughout the country, hundreds of whom sought his advice and help on environmental problems. The hundreds of thousands of Cape Cod residents and visitors, whose land and water are measurably cleaner as a result of his tireless hard work, owe him a debt of gratitude. Dr. Feigenbaum died April 16, 2003.

Douglas I. Foy, Sherborn - Doug Foy's biggest successes as an environmental advocate came during his quarter-century at the helm of the Conservation Law Foundation. His accomplishments began with his first case for CLF – on behalf of the Appalachian Mountain Club and the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests, he successfully fought plans to build a four-lane highway through New Hampshire's scenic Franconia Notch. And he has been involved in numerous legal victories since then – among those, blocking plans for offshore drilling on Georges Bank, protecting the dunes at Cape Cod National Seashore from off-road vehicles and helping to force the Boston Harbor cleanup. But litigation is only one part of Foy's legacy. Equally important are his proactive efforts to tackle some of the region's most complex environmental challenges, in particular the energy issue. Beginning in 1987 with a publication called Power to Spare, Foy's CLF launched an effort to craft a sustainable energy future for the region. Energy efficiency collaboratives with utilities throughout New England ultimately saved New England ratepayers $3 billion and avoided the need to build new generating capacity. CLF later spearheaded the drive to enact "restructuring" legislation throughout the region, laying the regulatory groundwork for the construction of 10,000 megawatts of new, clean gas-fired power plants that will cumulatively cut regional power plant carbon dioxide emissions by 45 percent. In addition to CLF, Foy has generously given his time to other local, national and international environmental efforts and organizations. For his efforts, he has received such awards as the President's Environmental and Conservation Challenge Award (America's highest conservation award) in 1992. Foy was recently appointed by MA Governor Mitt Romney as chief of Commonwealth Development.

Nancy Wrenn, Newton - As an 18-year employee of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, Nancy Wrenn became a trusted and effective leader in training industry officials on environmental laws. She was friendly and provided information that was easy to understand. One of her first accomplishments, in 1989, was MA DEP's "Small Quantity Generator's Handbook," a brief, simple guidebook for management of hazardous wastes. It became a bible for small business people throughout the Commonwealth and was adopted and copied by other states as well. Since then, Wrenn has been instrumental in developing and implementing a multimedia training curriculum for auto repair and auto body shop students and in initiating the Massachusetts Printing Partnership, a voluntary program that has attracted nearly 450 printing firms. The program included all essential requirements and replaced permits for air, water and hazardous waste management with a self-certification statement by the owners. More recently, she helped develop an Environmental Management System template for middle and high schools for improved chemical management. Wrenn, who retired from DEP in 2001, made a difference by working with businesses and schools in a way that let them know she was on their side. She helped them understand their environmental obligations while acknowledging that they wanted to do the right thing.

Walworth B. Williams, Winchester, MA and Hampstead, NH - Walworth B. Williams is credited for helping preserve, via conservation restrictions, over 1,000 acres of watershed land around Big Island Pond in Hampstead, Derry and Atkinson, NH. Williams helped make the Big Island Pond Corp. an effective organization that prevented pollution, overcrowding and unsafe boating. He was secretary and treasurer of the organization for three decades and edited the newsletter that went to 400-plus members. In addition, he volunteered for the Society for the Protection of NH Forests and the NH Lakes Association, where he is an honorary director. He also has worked with the NH Timberland Association, and was responsible for a town-wide trail system in Hampstead that has been a model for many other towns. A new section has been added every year for the past 10 years and the trails are now used extensively by Hampstead schools for nature and environmental studies. Williams, 84, is a natural leader whose work has made a huge impact on the state of New Hampshire

Individual Awards

Staff at the Massachusetts Riverways Programs, Boston - The staff of this small state program aimed at protecting and restoring Massachusetts watersheds has accomplished an extraordinary amount. The Riverways staff believe that local action is the foundation to river protection and prove it by working side by side with local citizens, community officials and watershed groups to achieve restoration and protection goals identified by people of the community. Last year, the Riverways Small Grants Program provided funding and technical assistance to 18 programs that led to volunteer fish counts, property mapping, rain gardens, stream bank restoration and habitat surveys. The Riverways staff also provide public education and training on a range of environmental laws and regulations, one of their biggest successes being the passage of the Massachusetts Rivers Protection Act, one of the strongest river corridor protection laws in the country. The individuals who deserve recognition are: Joan Kimball, director; Carrie Banks, Stream Team organizer; Rachel Calabro, Adopt-a- Stream coordinator; Chris Carney, Lake/Watershed Stewardship Program coordinator; Russell Cohen, rivers advocate; Cindy DelPapa, stream ecologist; Eileen Goldberg, grants coordinator; Margaret Kearns, watershed ecologist; Michael Merrill, River Restore technical assistant; Karen Pelto, River Restore coordinator; Patricia Sheppard, program manager, and Amy Singler, stream team organizer.

Jean Avery, Chatham - As a science teacher at Chatham High School, Avery has developed a curriculum in which students monitor and assess Frost Fish Creek, a local water body that has benefitted greatly. Avery started the program in 1994 to teach students how to question and investigate before accepting data as fact. Today, students analyze water quality, looking at such criteria as biochemical oxygen demand (BOD), fecal and total coliform levels and screening for nitrate pollution. In 2001, Chatham became the first high school with a quality assurance project approved by EPA. Avery's creativity and excitement allows students to take ownership in the project, thereby helping the high school, the community and the environment.

Jeff Fencil, New England Water Works Association, Holliston - Jeff Fencil has helped EPA and hundreds of communities in New England protect their drinking water supplies. He has been especially active since the 9/11 terrorist attack, educating suppliers about the importance of protecting water supplies and helping them meet new legal requirements for protection. Fencil worked with government and private groups to produce 17 workshops in New England, beginning in November 2001. Thanks to Fencil, EPA New England became the first region in the nation to help suppliers in this way. More than 1,500 drinking water operators attended daylong workshops that Jeff organized. His second major accomplishment was developing a tool that will allow water systems serving between 3,300 and 100,000 people to assess their vulnerability, even though these smaller water systems did not get federal funding. Fencil's innovation and hard work have earned him widespread respect and admiration from those who work with him.

Mary McFadden, Wareham - The year 2002 was a banner year for conservation activism in Wareham. Under Mary McFadden's volunteer leadership, an all-out effort was launched to pass the Community Preservation Act in this coastal town which includes thousands of acres of cranberry bogs. Although it has among the poorest economies in southeastern Massachusetts and only three percent of its land is protected, Wareham passed the act by 75 percent, the largest margin of any community in the state. This strong public support was largely due to McFadden, founding president of the Wareham Land Trust and chair of the Community Preservation Advisory Committee. As part of her effort to pass the act, McFadden secured funding from the Massachusetts Environmental Trust for a program that funded student projects to help protect Wareham's water supply and its open space. This funded the Preservation Press, which went to 9,000 homes the week before the vote.

Lance Van Lenten, Scituate - A long time advocate of land conservation and water supply protection in his hometown, Lance Van Lenten spearheaded a successful project to save a piece of land adjacent to a reservoir that was going to be sold for an incompatible purpose. A public school music teacher, Van Lenten was able to educate himself enough on the environmental and legal issues at stake to prevail over the technical and legal resources available to developers. Van Lenten's achievements have involved bringing together the communities around him. In 1999, he founded the First Herring Brook Watershed Initiative to educate and advocate for the local watershed that serves as Scituate's primary water supply. The watershed initiative has been highly successful in leveraging community volunteers and limited state and private funds to achieve impressive results, including a multi-year effort to map and assess overall conditions of the watershed. In addition to reporting problems that could adversely affect water quality and habitat, the initiative has reported 10 sightings of rare species to the National Heritage and Endangered Species Program.


The Massachusetts Skin Cancer Prevention Collaborative, Boston - By making people aware of the danger posed by overexposure to the sun, the Massachusetts Skin Cancer Prevention Collaborative has increased awareness of the role the ozone layer plays in our environment. Established in 2000, the statewide coalition is committed to promoting the prevention, early detection and treatment of all types of skin cancer. It brings together survivors, family members and organization members to educate the public about skin cancer and develop related policies. In 2001, the group created a media kit, funded by the Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation, that was distributed to all media outlets. A policy handbook for camps was also distributed in 2001. Last year the collaborative worked with day care centers, schools and primary care physicians. Among their accomplishments: a survey of sun protection policies in child care centers; a policy summit for organizations working with children; and a family physician project, "Have a Changing Mole? Don't Let it Take its Toll," that includes public and professional education materials.

New England Mountain Bike Association, Acton - Contrary to the stereotype that mountain biking destroys trails, EPA is recognizing a mountain biking organization that has worked hard to maintain trails and educate state and local officials that mountain biking can co-exist with other non-motorized trail uses. The New England Mountain Bike Association has become a leader in the work to create and preserve trails in such regional parks as the Middlesex Fells Reservation and Blue Hills Reservation in Massachusetts and more recently in the Arcadia Management Area in Rhode Island. Its first trail maintenance day occurred in May 1988. By 2000, NEMBA had grown to include chapters in Rhode Island, Merrimack Valley in Massachusetts and coastal New Hampshire and Maine. That same year, it hosted a record 87 trail maintenance events in 43 parks, using 3,400 volunteer work hours. Today there are 16 New England chapters, with two of them winning separate International Mountain Biking Association Model Trail Awards. In its 15 years, NEMBA has created a lasting positive effect on the environment of New England and it stands to continue in the future.

Boston Public School Bus Retrofit Project, Boston - Members of the Boston Public School Bus Retrofit Project have helped reduce school bus pollution in Boston neighborhoods with some of the state's poorest air quality and highest asthma rates. The city of Boston undertook one of the largest projects in the country to make school buses cleaner and safer. Using funds from an enforcement case settlement negotiated by EPA, the School Department agreed to install diesel particulate filters on 100 school buses and run 200 of the city's 600 buses with cleaner ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel. Using the filters and the cleaner fuel will reduce particulate emissions from the buses by more than 90 percent. A key player in the project was the school department's transportation director, Richard Jacobs, who moved the project forward while still making sure all 37,000 of the city's school children were getting to and from school every day. We also thank Jodi Sugerman-Brozan of Alternatives for Community and Environment; Aaron Toffler and Heather Langford of the Urban Ecology Institute; and Davida Andelman of the Bowdoin Street Health Center. These individuals made sure the community was involved in the project and helped identify specific buses and bus routes for retrofits.

Massachusetts Association of Health Boards, Plainville - Boards of health in Massachusetts can be effective tools for environmental protection, but many board members are volunteers with little training. The Massachusetts Association of Health Boards helps educate local board members in law, environmental science and public health policy. In addition to publishing the Journal of Local Public health quarterly to help board members, the association provides legal assistance by reviewing proposed regulations, holding workshops and filing amicus briefs. The association's work has been recognized as a model by the National Association of Local Boards of Health. One person has been especially important in making this association so effective. As executive director, Marcia Benes in 1996 developed the association's training and certification program, which has trained 905 local board of health members and staff. Benes has also authored and edited important publications such as the Private Well Protection Handbook for Local Boards of Health, the MAHB Journal of Local Public Health and the Legal Handbook for Local Boards of Health. Marcia got involved with the association after she was elected to the board of health in her hometown, Plainville, in 1983. Benes also founded and is president of the Natural Resources Trust of Plainville, which includes an historic mill site and a 60-acre wildlife sanctuary. With increasing burdens on health resources, it is especially important to have someone like Marcia Benes educating volunteer boards of health.

Massachusetts Environmentally Preferable Products Procurement Program, Boston - This state program, coordinated by the Commonwealth's central purchasing department in collaboration with the Executive Office of Environmental Affairs and Department of Environmental Protection, aims to reduce the environmental impact of the state's operations by purchasing environmentally preferable products (EPP) that are less harmful to the environment. The variety and volume of environmentally preferable products purchased has helped make this program a national model. Last year alone, recycled-content purchases increased by 18 percent, to $81 million, while purchases of other environmentally-friendly products and services, such as energy-efficient computers and environmentally friendly cleaning products, totaled $29 million. The program also is leading national efforts to develop nationwide specifications for EPP cleaners, as well as criteria for identifying and promoting the use of recycled-content carpeting. Last fall, the program's eighth annual Buy Recycled and EPP Vendor Fair attracted over 760 participants.

Business and Industry

AlphaGary Corp., Leominster - AlphaGary Corp., a plastic materials manufacturer based in Leominster, has proven itself to be a leader in many environmental areas. In addition to making all of its facilities worldwide ISO 9001 certified, the company's Leominster facility has gone ‘beyond compliance' in many aspects of its safety, health and environmental practices. Over the past few years, the facility instituted a lead reduction pilot program and an environmental management system. The company has also been active in the Toxics Use Reduction Institute (TURI), particularly TURI's Coated Wire and Cable Supply Chain Initiative which involves information sharing and encouraging participation of industry peers. By implementing best practices and aggressively pursuing energy conservation, AlphaGary is saving more than one million kilowatt hours a year on its energy bills. Among those projects was a centralized chilled water system that received awards from the New England Chapter of Energy Engineers and the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning.

National Grid USA, Northboro - National Grid USA, which provides gas and electricity transmission and distribution to more than 3.2 million customers in New York, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New Hampshire, has delivered energy efficiency programs to business customers since 1987. National Grid believes even the smallest incremental changes in designing, constructing and operating buildings can have enormous environmental and energy impacts. (Buildings consume more than 35 percent of the total U.S. energy consumption, including 65 percent of the nation's electricity.) Since 1990, National Grid's companies, including Mass. Electric, Granite State Electric, Nantucket Electric and Narragansett Electric, have worked with building owners to give greater comfort, safety and energy efficiency and a healthier environment to their buildings. These companies, working with building owners, have saved 2.1 million megawatt hours of electric energy for business customers per year and delivered environmental protections that have reduced air emissions annually by 1.4 million tons of carbon dioxide, over 10,000 tons of sulphur dioxide and about 3,700 tons of nitrogen oxides. These energy savings are enough to power more than 350,000 homes per year. National Grid's Green Schools initiative, launched in 2000, has saved school districts more than $220,000 on their energy bills.

Target Corp./Target Stores, Minneapolis, MN - The Target Corp. has demonstrated how a large retail operation can make significant strides in environmental improvements and reducing waste. Recycling goals are set for each store based on sales amounts. Last year, company stores recycled over 270,000 tons of materials and additionally reduced waste through community salvage programs. In New England alone, Target's 27 stores last year recycled 6,766 tons of paper and cardboard. The company also recycles outdated computers, aluminum, cadmium, nickel, lead acid, aluminum and shrink-wrap (as well as glass and bottle recycling on a local level). Target also works with vendors to reduce product packaging. Nearly 100 percent of the clothing Target sells arrives without excess packaging and 95 percent of all shoes arrive without stuffing. Target also requests that overseas vendors ship goods in traditional corrugated cardboard, without rice paper, ensuring that boxes can be recycled. Target's Environmental Team is also active in national recycling and cleanup programs. Last year, more than 6,300 volunteers participated in the Keep America Beautiful Operation Clean Up America. The results of those efforts: 83 playgrounds cleaned and 26,000 flowers planted.