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News Releases from Region 01

New Hampshire Organizations and Residents Recognized by EPA for Environmental Achievements

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

BOSTON - Five winners in New Hampshire were recognized today at EPA's 2015 Environmental Merit Awards ceremony. The environmental leaders were among 27 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.

"New England is rich with people who understand the importance of preserving the environment, but the citizens we are recognizing today went above and beyond in working as stewards of our air, land and water," said Curt Spalding, regional administrator of EPA's New England office. "In addition to iconic natural beauty and vibrant communities, we New Englanders are fortunate to have neighbors who care deeply about the environment we share."

This year's Environmental Merit Awards program was dedicated to Mayor Thomas Menino, who died in 2014 after two decades as Boston's mayor, and who championed environmental projects in the city he led and loved.

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. The Environmental Merit Award Winners from New Hampshire listed by category are:

Lifetime Achievement

The Team of Jeff Kantor and Bob Phelps (posthumous), Auto & Truck Recyclers Association of New Hampshire

Both Jeff Kantor and Bob Phelps have been president of the Auto and Truck Recyclers Association of New Hampshire and both owned motor vehicle recycling facilities committed to environmental excellence. The state Department of Environmental Services awarded both of their facilities with the status of Certified NH Green Yard. Kantor, now an environmental consultant for LKQ Car World in Candia, a salvage yard, and has served on many governmental committees. Phelps was a regional director at-large and a global ambassador for the Automotive Recyclers Association. Phelps passed away in 2014. Kantor and Phelps both were committed to promoting good environmental business practices within the auto recycling industry. As a team they were a power-house dedicated to building relationships between the auto recycling industry and all levels of government. They worked with the state Legislature and US Congress to promote legislation reflecting the modernization of the auto recycling industry and its importance in our nation. Both men were instrumental in helping DES establish the award-winning Green Yards Program, which promotes and recognizes environmental excellence among auto recycling yards. They educated their peers on the advantages of running a facility with environmentally sound and sustainable business practices. In addition to advocating environmental sustainability through federal, state and local regulations and with their peers, Kantor and Phelps worked to improve public perception of the industry through community outreach and an increased understanding of the industry. Kantor is the outgoing "front man" who helps people understand the importance of good environmental practices. He invited students into his business and conducted "show and tell" productions at local schools demonstrating the part a well-run motor vehicle recycling facility plays in environmental protection. Phelps led with a quiet distinction, spending one-on-one time talking about his views on rules, regulations and the state of the industry. Before his untimely death in 2014, he mentored young people, showing them that an environmentally sustainable business can thrive in today's society. Kantor and Phelps spent their careers working to elevate an industry that is neither glamorous nor especially lucrative, but is vitally important to the sustainability of our society. Their commitment to substantive improvements of environmental performance within the automotive recycling industry is their legacy.

Dr. Mimi L. Becker, University of New Hampshire, Durham

Dr. Mimi Becker has been an outstanding local, regional and international environmental steward for almost 50 years. Beginning with her work in the Great Lakes region in the 1970s and more recently in the New Hampshire Seacoast since the mid-90s, Becker has pursued a professional career and engaged in civic life focused on preserving and restoring ecosystem health. Her legacy can be traced not only to an international environmental treaty between the US and Canada, but also to coastal management and policy in the Gulf of Maine. She has been involved in energy, land use and climate planning and policy in New Hampshire, and watershed management across coastal New Hampshire. Throughout her personal and professional life, she has helped foster an awareness among thousands of people - from residents of Love Canal, NY to international leaders, to undergraduate students young enough to be her grandchildren - about the critical importance of a healthy environment and our responsibility to prevent its destruction. Becker reminded anyone who would listen that we humans are an inseparable part of the natural environment.

During two decades at the University of New Hampshire, Becker mentored and advised many graduate students involved in such topics as Gulf of Maine resource management challenges; funding for programs to link new research to environmental decision making; the role the news media plays in environmental policy-making; and climate change adaptation capacity of rural communities. Becker often met with grad students at 5:30 am for breakfast at a downtown Durham restaurant to examine and challenge thesis goals and progress. Outside of academia, Becker worked with many groups to address natural resource issues. For her efforts regarding watershed management and climate planning within her hometown of Exeter, she was recognized as citizen of the year in 2013. Rather than burning out or becoming cynical, Becker continues to believe we can come together to find a balance between using our coastal resources and protecting them. Her inspirational attitude and dedication to her work, her students, and furthering the field of resource management in New England and beyond makes her worthy of the lifetime achievement award.


Sarah Pillsbury, Brandon Kernen, and Stephen Roy; Drinking Water and Groundwater Bureau at NH Department of Environmental Services

The Drinking Water and Groundwater Bureau at the NH Department of Environmental Services ensures that the state's 2,400 public water systems provide safe, reliable drinking water. State employees Sarah Pillsbury, Brandon Kernen and Stephen Roy have gone above and beyond. With a history of innovative leadership on drinking water, these employees have used science as the foundation for policies, and taken a pioneering approach to environmental protection. Work done by Kernen, Roy, and Pillsbury on contaminants in drinking water illustrate the kind of enterprising work they do. The state environmental department is using data from studies of contaminants to develop siting criteria for wastewater disposal systems at facilities with a higher load of these contaminants in their effluent. This work has led to state legislation allowing police to collect medicine at events and drop boxes, reducing discharges to groundwater and surface water. Kernen and Roy have also worked to prevent drinking water impacts from currently unregulated contaminants such as 1,4-dioxane, and other recent work has also discovered that low concentrations of several metals may be leaching off geothermal heat pumps and impacting drinking water. Enhanced regulations are now in the works to better manage geothermal wells used for potable water. These are but a few examples of this team's innovation and dedication to groundwater and drinking water protection for their state.

NH Coastal Adaptation Workgroup

A group of government, non-governmental, university, and private organizations in New Hampshire collaborated to provide resources for communities trying to respond to the threats of climate change to the state's coast. The NH Coastal Adaptation Workgroup, formed in 2010, has been led by Steve Miller of the Great Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve and Sherry Godlewski of the NH Department of Environmental Services. Now involving a collaboration of 21 organizations, the workgroup is looked at as a national model. The NH Coastal Adaptation Workgroup received more than $2.75 million in grant funds for municipal projects. It sponsors an Annual Climate Summit, now in its fourth year, and numerous workshops, attracting hundreds of participants. The workgroup also provide resources through a website, newsletter, speaking engagements and a quarterly radio spot. It has educated legislators and was instrumental in establishing the Coastal Risks and Hazards Commission in the NH Legislature. The workgroup model has already been replicated by several other groups throughout New England. The NH Coastal Adaptation Workgroup is an example of what can be done with few resources and dedicated, hard-working people.


Lori Sommer, NH Department of Environmental Services

Lori Sommer, who has worked for the NH Department of Environmental Services for over 25 years, oversees the Wetlands Mitigation Program. Sommer developed and oversaw a comprehensive new watershed approach to protecting high quality aquatic habitats. She created a new mitigation mechanism, called the In Lieu Fee Aquatic Resource Mitigation - or ARM - Fund, which gives applicants a cost-effective, balanced approach to mitigation while ensuring long-term environmental benefits. The fund has been highly successful, receiving regional and nation attention. Since it began, it has awarded $6.9 million that has protected 10,840 acres; restored 84 acres of wetlands; and restored and enhanced 4,200 feet of streams. Over the last year, Sommer also led an effort to work on climate change and aquatic organism passage. Working with the state Department of Transportation, she spearheaded a process to inventory deficient culverts, or crossings, that fragment streams. These crossings will be replaced or rehabilitated as mitigation for other stream impacts. The culvert mitigation program, a new and promising model of collaboration that uses limited funds for environmental gains, can benefit other state programs.

Other Recognition

In dedicating the merit awards to Menino, EPA noted that because of Menino's robust environmental agenda, the city reduced greenhouse gas emissions, emerging as a national leader in climate action, and was first in the nation to adopt a green buildings standard for large private developments.

In addition to the Environmental Merits, EPA New England recognized two Federal Green Challenge award winners, one from Massachusetts and one from Vermont. The Federal Green Challenge is a national EPA initiative that challenges federal agencies to set goals and report on their achievements in the areas of waste, energy, transportation, purchasing, electronics management, and water conservation. The VA Boston Healthcare System was recognized for its laundry operation on the Brockton hospital campus, which processes roughly 8 million pounds of pillowcases, sheets, towels, and patient apparel each year for the 11 VA hospitals in New England. The Vermont Army National Guard Ethan Allen Training Site in Jericho, Vt., was also recognized. This training site hosts the Army Mountain Warfare School and an 11,000 acre firing range.

EPA New England also recognized winners of the 2014 National Food Recovery Challenge, part of EPA's Sustainable Materials Management Program, which seeks to reduce the environmental impact of materials through their entire life cycle. In 2013, EPA's Food Recovery Challenge participants nationally diverted more than 370,000 tons of wasted food from entering landfills or incinerators. Of this, more than 36,000 tons of food was donated to feed people in need, which equates to nearly 56 million meals. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates wasted food costs America more than $165 billion annually and that the average family of four throws away $1,600 of food each year. The National Award winners represent the highest percent increase in food waste diversion over the previous year in their given categories.

National Food Recovery Challenge Award Winner: College and University:  Worcester State University, Worcester Mass.

National Food Recovery Challenge Award Honorable Mention: College and University:  Wellesley College, Wellesley, Mass.

National Food Recovery Challenge Award Honorable Mention: Other Sector: Parkland Medical Center, Derry, NH

EPA also recognized the 2014 National WasteWise New England Award Winners. EPA's Wastewise program helps organizations and businesses apply sustainable materials management practices to reduce municipal and select industrial wastes. Nationally, WasteWise participants reported preventing and diverting a total of nearly 7.6 million tons of waste from being disposed in landfills or incinerators in 2013. This amount of waste diversion represents a reduction in greenhouse gases equivalent to taking more than 2.3 million passenger vehicles off the road for one year. The National Award winners represent the highest percent increase waste diversion over the previous year in their given categories.

National WasteWise College/University, Partner of the Year: University of Southern Maine, Portland, ME; National WasteWise Non-Profit Organization, Partner of the Year: Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, MA; National WasteWise Non-Profit Organization, Honorable Mention: Norwalk Hospital, Norwalk, CT.

More information on this year's Environmental Merit Award winners and photos from the event will be available at: www.epa.gov/environmental-merit-awards-new-england