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News Releases from Region 01

Two Maine Organizations Recognized by EPA for Environmental Achievements

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

BOSTON - Two winners in Maine 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 Maine listed by category are:

Business, Industry, Trade or Professional

Pottle's Transportation, Bangor

A family-owned and operated truck carrier serving 48 states and Canada, Pottle's believes efficiency makes sense economically, as well as environmentally. Pottle's has a record of running clean trucks, but continues to evaluate new devices and ways to save on fuel. In 2013, the company saved more than 24,000 tons of carbon dioxide, 69 tons of nitrous oxide, nearly 4 tons of particulate matter and more than 1 million gallons of diesel fuel, over 13.25 million miles of travel. The company works to improve these numbers each year by exploring new technology and instituting policy incentives. The company's fleet of 120 sleeper tractors are equipped with auxiliary power units to keep drivers comfortable while waiting or resting, without idling the main engine. Its newer tractors shut down automatically after five minutes of idling. In 2014, the company ran two pilot programs. In one, six tractors had speeds set at 60 miles per hour, rather than the current 65, to test additional fuel efficiency. In the second, eight tractors were given fuel saving hub caps that prevent wind from getting between the tires. Pottle's newest trailers are made with light-weight materials to reduce weight and fuel consumption. The company also monitors driver idling and rewards efficiency. With this environmental merit award, EPA recognizes Pottle's approach to reducing its environmental footprint while performing freight services.

Environmental, Community, Academia & Nonprofit

Environmental Living and Learning for Maine Students

Children are more active, more attentive, learn more, and understand more when they are engaged in outdoor, hands-on, experiential programs. In 2010, four non-profit residential environmental learning centers formed a unique partnership to ensure that, ultimately, all Maine public school students will have at least one outdoor, residential, environmental learning experience. The Ecology School in Saco, Chewonki Outdoor Classroom in Wiscasset, University of Maine 4-H Center at Bryant Pond and University of Maine 4-H Center at Tanglewood in Lincolnville, joined forces to develop scholarship funds so no child or school would be turned away from a residential environmental education programs because of inability to pay. In 2011, the Schoodic institute in Winter Harbor join the project, extending its reach Downeast. Between 2011 and 2014 the project raised nearly $1.7 million from foundations and private donors, schools, and the five partners. By the end of the 2013-14 school year, 6,143 students had attended one of its programs. This year the project is reaching more than 1,000 students, immersing them in an environment of living what they learn and caring for each other and the Earth. Using a variety of ecosystems - from ocean to mountains, forest to field, freshwater marsh to saltwater marsh - students learn ecological principles and see how parts of systems are connected. This project has been recognized with state and national awards for achievements that go far beyond what any one of the centers could accomplish alone.

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