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U.S. EPA Honors 8 Southern California Environmental Heroes

Release Date: 04/16/2009
Contact Information: Wendy Chavez, 415 947 4248,

40 groups and individuals recognized for outstanding achievement in protecting the environment

SAN FRANCISCO -- During the agency's 11th annual Environmental Awards Ceremony in San Francisco today, U.S. EPA acting Regional Administrator Laura Yoshii recognized eight Southern California organizations and individuals in recognition of their efforts to protect and preserve the environment in 2008.

“It is a great pleasure and honor that we can recognize the innovative and important environmental work achieved by this year’s impressive group of organizations and individuals, and the example they set for all of us to follow,” Yoshii said. “This year's winners and nominees have made superb efforts to protect and preserve our air, water and land, and increased awareness of the environmental challenges we all face.”

The Pacific Southwest’s Environmental Awards program acknowledges commitment and significant contributions to the environment in California, Arizona, Nevada, Hawaii, Pacific Islands and tribal lands. Forty groups and individuals were selected from over 200 nominees received this year from businesses, local, government officials, tribes, media, environmental organizations and community activists.

The Southern California winners are:

Million Trees Los Angeles
A City Of Los Angeles Green Initiative
Los Angeles
Last year, the Million Trees Los Angeles initiative engaged tens of thousands of individuals, businesses, and community groups in tree planting and maintenance -- increasing L.A.’s annual tree planting tenfold and creating a legacy of environmental activism. The trees will benefit the environment for generations to come, providing shade for cooling, reducing electricity demand for air conditioning, and, in turn, lowering greenhouse gas emissions. In addition to tree planting, the initiative includes community organizing and civic engagement, environmental education, and career opportunities in green industries – all which engage schools, residents and businesses to work collectively. The initiative also hosted the nation’s largest 2008 “Get Your Green On” Environmental Youth Conference, with over 5,000 youth participants, plus teachers and parents. The conference offered opportunities for ongoing environmental activism through community organizations, volunteering, service learning and careers.

Manhattan Beach Planet Pals
Manhattan Beach
Planet Pals is a non-profit organization whose mission is to raise environmental awareness through education, create a sustainable school, and encourage people to "take a step" to make a difference. Planet Pals offers a walk-to-school program, trash-free lunches, newsletter earth tips, suggestions on removing harmful cleaning supplies and pesticides from campuses, recycling and composting education, e-waste fundraisers, energy saving tips and more. Their “Trash Free Tuesday” program started with 650 students using 40 Hefty trash bags per day at lunch, and they are now down to an average of two bags a day -- and a record low of only 1/2 a bag! Planet Pals was started in 2007 by parent volunteers in Manhattan Beach, who continue to work with school personnel, city leadership, and the private sector to support sustainability programs and environmental education for the local school district.

Ramona Band of Cahuilla
The Ramona Band of Cahuilla Indians of Southern California has become the first fully “off grid” reservation with 100 percent renewable energy power for all facilities. Over the past decade, the tribe received funding from the Department of Energy, Housing & Urban Development and other agencies to build a sun and wind-powered energy system, and develop an ecotourism and training business. The tribe is now developing an ecotourism center as a renewable energy destination resort. The Eco-Center will also teach people about Cahuilla culture. The training component will provide consulting and ecotourism start-up business services to enable other tribes to replicate or adapt this model for business development. Once the Eco-Center opens in late 2010, the tribe will have the only Native American-owned facility to train other rural/remote tribes to adapt this model for economic development.

University of California, Irvine
Sustainable Transportation Program
UC Irvine’s Sustainable Transportation Program is reducing congestion, improving air quality, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions by providing alternatives to one-person-per-car driving. The program eliminates more than 39 million vehicle-miles travelled, more than 19,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions, and saves the university community more than $21 million annually. The university achieved a 1.87 Average Vehicle Ridership, the highest for any employer of comparable size in Southern California. The program includes one-on-one commuter counseling, construction of an extensive network of bike/pedestrian paths, retrofitting the entire campus shuttle fleet to operate on biodiesel, and specialized nitrogen oxides traps to further reduce shuttle emissions. Other actions include replacing traffic lights with LEDs, timing traffic lights to reduce fuel-burning waits, improving shuttle service, and restricting car parking by students.

Santa Ynez Chumash Environmental Office and Chumash Casino Resort
Facilities Management
Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians
Santa Ynez
The Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Mission Indians has become a leader in greening casino and resort operations. Their green strategies include installing a white roof to cool their casino building; waste sorting and recycling; a composting and kitchen oil and grease management program; and reuse/recycling of used uniforms. To save water, the tribe installed a gray water drip irrigation system, low-flow toilets and showerheads, waterless urinals, and landscaping with native and low-water plants. To save energy, they provide shuttle buses -- reducing 800 car trips per year. They’ve installed an advanced heating and cooling system, compact fluorescent and LED lights, including LEDs on slot machines, and a reflective liner on their building shell. Employees use “Green Seal” certified cleaners, microfiber mops, and battery operated cleaning equipment. These changes save money, increase productivity, reduce environmental impacts and make the Chumash Resort and Casino a safer, healthier place to work and play.

Lenore Lamb
Pala Band of Luiseno Mission Indians
Lenore Lamb, Pala EPA Coordinator, has been instrumental in the success of the tribe’s environmental programs and influential in securing funding for critical environmental programs. Viewed by other tribes as an expert in solid waste, she is frequently consulted on solid waste enforcement issues and general solid waste management questions. Lamb secured funding for and oversaw the design and construction of the tribe’s new model transfer station, which opened in 2008. The first of its kind in the Pacific Southwest, it includes an area for electronic waste collection, a green waste and composting program, and a secured hazardous waste collection location. Lenore has not only made significant contributions to improving the environment at Pala, she has contributed to improving environmental conditions throughout Indian Country.

Toyota Motor Sales/Ryan McMullan
The associates of Toyota Motor Sales in Torrance, Calif. have focused their efforts on eliminating waste. Through these efforts, Toyota’s vehicle distribution centers send less than four ounces of waste to the landfill for each vehicle processed, and its parts operations saved 17.6 million pounds of wood and cardboard in 2008. This work has had regional and national impacts -- with the company’s headquarters and nine facilities achieving zero waste to landfill, ten plants achieving 95 percent waste reduction, and 12 distribution centers achieving over 90 percent recycling rates. These efforts have saved more than 110,000 trees and conserved the equivalent of 1.6 million gallons of gas through recycling materials. Ryan McMullan, an Environmental Resource Specialist with Toyota Motor Sales in Torrance, has led Toyota’s efforts to eliminate waste. He is a key regional environmental leader who has played a critical role in Toyota’s efforts to improve the environment, set aggressive goals, and educate the public and others in the business community.

Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company
Corporate Go Green Initiative
Lockheed Martin’s Corporate Go Green initiative, “Conserve Today, Preserve Tomorrow,” is the motivating force for the company and its employees in Palmdale, California. Among its successes, the company conserved 20 million gallons of water since 2005 by identifying the most significant water usage and implementing conservation techniques in key areas. Lockheed also reduced 1.8 million pounds of carbon dioxide emissions by diverting more than 1,000 tons of materials from landfill disposal in 2008, replaced gasoline-powered vehicles with electric vehicles, and renovated an existing building to LEED silver status. Lockheed Martin also extends its environmental commitment to others by partnering with the local fire department, high schools and the EPA to provide teachers with laboratory chemical safety and environmental education awareness.
For the complete list of winners, visit: Beginning today and throughout the coming weeks, a series of blogs will feature several of the winners at: