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Environment Matters Podcast

Topic: EPA 2009  Environmental Achievement Awards
Size: 13, 916k
Time: 05:55

Date: September 24, 2009

Lena Kim: When you think of the Department of Defense's National Security Agency, you probably picture a bank of supercomputers helping us make sense of our adversaries' electronic communications. Well, try to imagine the amount of paper and other valuable materials this generates and the huge recycling opportunity—more than 11 million pounds last year--now being taken at the NSA's Ft Meade, Maryland campus.   

Opening music

Hi. I'm Lena Kim of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Mid-Atlantic region, and welcome to Environment Matters - our series of podcasts.

In selecting our second annual Environmental Achievement Awards, EPA gave the National Security Agency high marks for being a pollution prevention leader among government agencies.

NSA officials joined other winners for a ceremony at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia where our featured speaker was Terry Ruggles, television news anchor for Philadelphia's NBC10.

Terry Ruggles: You remember the tune "It's not easy being green." There was a time not too long ago when it wasn't easy being green, whether you were a frog, or a man or a woman, or anybody else. It wasn't easy being environmentally savvy. It wasn't on our radar screens. There may be a whole lot of reasons for it: inexpensive gasoline, big cars, God knows we were a disposable society and we still are, but it used to be more rampant than it is today. We just threw things away. We still have some vestiges of it, with everybody walking around with those silly plastic water bottles that they drink and throw away. (Audience laughter.) it didn't used to be easy being green. So, you don't have to be in government. You don't have to be an agency. You can be a student, you can be a teacher, a housewife, a lawyer, a doctor, a lawyer or an Indian chief. There are ways that this can touch you.

Lena Kim: EPA's top regional official, Acting Regional Administrator Bill Early, felt good that this year's award winners demonstrated how diverse we are in our opportunities to be better environmental stewards.

Bill Early: Today's honorees represent a diverse group of organizations and one individual who have shown extraordinary commitment to pollution prevention in the mid-Atlantic environment. We're recognizing corporations and individuals for their extraordinary work that they have done so I think thank all of us, the honorees as well as the people…  I think is an important recognition because I think all of us can do some things to help to improve our environment in which we live and it's the small day-to-day things that we can do that cumulatively add up to making a significant improvement.

Lena Kim: The National Security Agency's Jennifer Fetchell speaks with understandable pride about why her agency's recycling program is working so well.

Jennifer Fetchell:  Largely because our government employees as a whole really care about the environment and want to do as much as we can to recycle and reduce pollution. We have over 5,000 tons of material that was recycled last year. All of the moneys earned from recycling go into a fund and can be used for projects that benefit all of the employees at the agency.

Lena Kim: Since one if five of the country's health care professionals train in Philadelphia, the award-winning Women's Health and Environmental Network's impact is felt on a national level.

Julie Becker: Diane Moore and Theresa Mendez-Quigley are being recognized for their efforts to help these hospitals change not only how food is being served, but how food is being conceptualized in a health care setting. We're looking at all aspects of the life cycle of food—not only where they procure the food, but we're trying to ensure local food, we're trying to change the menus, specifically trying to introduce meat-free Mondays. Also trying to introduce community-supported agricultural products so that both the employees as well as the patients can buy produce on hand. And also setting up composting.

Lena Kim: Temple University was honored for a highly successful electronics recycling program at its sprawling urban campus.

Tim O'Rourke:  Well, it was really to solve a problem. We have a lot of computers at Temple, at any time we have 14,000, so we're turning over 2,000 to 2,500 every year and people didn't know how to get rid of them.

Lena Kim: The only individual to win an award was Amy Jacobs, a wetlands scientist with Delaware's environmental agency whose longstanding devotion to preserving wetlands was honored.

Amy Jacobs: I feel that my job is important because wetlands are a critical element of our landscape, and they have been degraded over time. We've lost about half our wetlands in the state and, of the half we have remaining, many have been degraded because of human influences such as agriculture, forestry operations and development.

Lena Kim: NBC 10's Terry Ruggles.

Terry Ruggles: The strength of the environmental movement has nothing to do with a photovoltaic cell.  It has nothing to do with a windmill up in the Poconos, or bacteria taken out of the Schuylkill River to make some kind of diesel fuel. The strength of the environmental program is everybody sitting here. It's not what we make. It's what we do. And you certainly are a good example of what people are doing.

Closing music

Lena Kim: For a complete list of winners and their achievements, visit our Web site at www.epa.gov/region3 . And thanks for joining us on Environment Matters, our series of podcasts.

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