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News Releases from Region 01

Maine Organizations and Residents Recognized by EPA for Environmental Achievements

Contact Information: 
David Deegan (deegan.dave@epa.gov)

BOSTON – Four winners from Maine were recognized today at the 2016 Environmental Merit Awards ceremony of the US Environmental Protection Agency's New England regional office. The environmental leaders were among three dozen recipients across New England honored for helping to improve New England's environment.

Each year EPA New England recognizes individuals and groups in the six New England states who have worked to protect or improve the region's environment in distinct ways. The merit awards, given out since 1970, honor individuals and groups who have shown particular ingenuity and commitment in their efforts.

"We are proud to honor those citizens, businesses and organizations who have gone the extra mile to help protect and preserve our region's natural resources," said Curt Spalding, regional administrator of EPA's New England office. "These New England award winners are committed to making our towns, cities and countryside of New England healthy, vibrant places with clean air, land and water."

The Environmental Merit Awards, which are given to people who have already taken action, are awarded in the categories of individual; business (including professional organizations); local, state or federal government; and environmental, community, academia or nonprofit organization. Also, each year EPA presents lifetime achievement awards for individuals.

Merit Award Winners from Connecticut listed by category are:


Martin "Tin" Smith
Ogunquit, Maine

The Board of Directors of the Great Works Regional Land Trust, along with its staff and nearly 1,000 active members, nominated Tin Smith for a Lifetime Achievement Award. Smith has been a visionary and tireless leader in environmental protection and land conservation in southern coastal Maine for 35 years.

It was 30 ago that a group of citizens concerned about the impacts of rapid development in southern York County, Maine, formed The Great Works Regional Land Trust. Smith took an immediate leadership role, using his existing contacts in the conservation field to educate the novice volunteer board.

Smith continues to be the heart and soul of the Land Trust. In addition to his role as President of the Land Trust Board for 10 years, he has led the way on many individual projects. Thanks largely to his perseverance, the Land Trust has completed 119 land purchases or easements, thus protecting 5,974 acres of valuable land in the six southern Maine towns served by the trust. Smith was one of the first to advocate for preserving the unique ecosystem of the 30,000-acre Mount Agamenticus area. Knowing collaboration would be key, he helped lead the effort to bring towns, land trusts and conservation groups together to form the Mount Agamenticus to the Sea Coalition.

Smith has made invaluable contributions to numerous other environmental conservation efforts as well. He was part of a core group in the early 1980s who worked to protect the land and buildings that are part of the former Laudholm Farm and to create the Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve. He has been active in the Maine Organic Farmers and Growers Association for 30 years, serving on the board of directors and providing hundreds of volunteer hours.

On top of all of Smith's professional efforts, every fall he and his wife, Jane, host a harvest festival at their organic apple grove. Community members gather to pick apples, make cider, enjoy a meal prepared by Jane, and celebrate nature and community. It is hard to overstate the positive environmental impact Tin Smith's leadership and dedication have had within this region.

Business, Industries and Technology

Penobscot Energy Recovery Company
Orrington, Maine

The Penobscot Energy Recovery Company is a municipal solid waste combustor that accepts more than 300,000 tons annually from 187 communities and waste producers in the region. The company uses a refuse-derived fuel technology, with solid waste shredded for combustion in a biomass boiler, and ferrous metals recovered for recycling. Steam generated from combustion is used to generate 25.5 megawatts of electricity that is sold on the grid. The process reduces the volume of waste by about 85 percent, conserving precious landfill space.

In 2015, some 7,802 tons of ferrous metal was recycled, and another project is nearing completion to recover post-combustion ferrous for recycling. Meanwhile the company has studies underway to identify the feasibility of recovering energy from the 58,082 tons of organic material and grit removed by the process.

Motivated by the excellence of its employees, Penobscot Energy in 2013 began other focused projects, including one to design and put in place a "zero liquid discharge" program that would recycle all process water internally and avoid discharging water to the Penobscot River. The existing wastewater treatment plant was repurposed to treat and recycle wastewater to other parts of the operation. By 2015, the zero liquid discharge goal had been realized. Penobscot believes the process used to reach this goal could be transferred to other small thermal power plants.

Enviro, Community, Academia & Nonprofit

Ogunquit Conservation Commission
Ogunquit, Maine

Since it began 12 years ago, the Ogunquit Conservation Commission has worked on projects that protect and restore the town’s most important natural places. The commission strives to conserve lands, protect waters and serve town residents and visitors through a greener and healthier community. Since its formation, the town's conservation commission has carried out a variety of projects, earning it recognition by Down East magazine as the most environmental town in Maine.

Among its accomplishments, the commission created the annual $25,000 town referendum question for the Conservation Land Trust, and functions as the Ogunquit Beach environmental steward. It works with the state on issues related to beach environmental conditions, dune stability and fencing placement, and manages volunteers for the beaches water testing program and monthly water sampling of 12 beach and river locations. A referendum initiated by the commission provided $3 million for 49 acres of conservation land, and the commission helped the Great Works Regional Land Trust develop 10 additional acres.

The commission created the yearly Beach, River and Dune Clean Up volunteer program and, with the town and Ogunquit Sewer District, undertook underground video investigation, smoke tests and DNA sampling to locate sources of contamination affecting beach waters. The commission led the effort to make Ogunquit the first town in Maine and second in the nation to pass an ordinance banning the use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers. The “Sniffer Dog” program instated by the commission detects sources of contaminated beach and river waters.


State Performance Partnership Improvement Team
NH Department of Environmental Services - Susan Carlson; Vincent Perelli; Ted Diers; Wendy Waskin; John Duclos
Maine Department of Environmental Protection - Jeff Crawford
RI Department of Environmental Management - Terry Gray
Vt. Department of Environmental Conservation - Carey Hengstenberg
Conn. Department of Energy and Environmental Protection - Nicole Lugli
Mass. Department of Environmental Protection - Deneen Simpson

The State Performance Partnership Improvement Team made the concept of E-Enterprise a reality. The team used 21st century tools to streamline work plan negotiations and ultimately strengthen oversight and management of the Performance Partnership Grant progress for New England state partners. The work of the team, consisting of representatives from six states, showed that waste can be eliminated, processes streamlined and budget shortfalls tackled through partnerships and on-line cooperation.

With declining funding from EPA over the past few years, New England states needed to address budget shortfalls for environmental efforts. A request by the state of New Hampshire for help in eliminating waste through "lean" processes led to improvements and efficiencies in environmental work across New England. Ideas were generated through the "lean" events that could benefit other states. The State Performance Partnership Improvement Team seized the chance to implement changes in 2015.

Vincent Perelli of the NH Department of Environmental Services was a leader in convening all six New England states to commit to trying this new approach. The state partners worked with EPA New England to design a new SharePoint site, which served as the E-Enterprise platform to conduct real-time state work plan negotiations, provided the opportunity to spur program dialogue in a new way, and allowed codification of negotiated 2-year agreements in a single document. This was the first time EPA New England used SharePoint for this type of E-Enterprise collaboration on such a large scale with external users. This involved significant time, effort and coordination within EPA and with state information technology offices, to resolve issues as they emerged.

Despite the technical challenges of creating this new E-Enterprise approach, it has been very successful. For instance, the air program completed negotiations through SharePoint with all six states within two months, and agreement for all work plan elements were completed with three states by mid-December – significantly faster than prior years. A high level of interest has been shown nationally for using this model to improve joint strategic planning by EPA and states to save time, resources, and produce measurable environmental results.

This year's Environmental Merit Awards program was dedicated to the historic Paris climate agreement last year at which over 190 nations committed to universally limit global warming. The agreement is a strong starting point and promotes action over time that will protect this planet from the impacts of climate change.

More information on EPA's Environmental Merit Awards, including photographs from the award ceremony: www.epa.gov/environmental-merit-awards-new-england