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News Releases from Region 01

Vermont Official Receives Prestigious EPA Environmental Award

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

BOSTON - At a ceremony today in Boston, Justin Johnson, the newly appointed secretary of the Vermont Agency of Administration, was today awarded the Ira Leighton Award, recognizing his 10 years of service and leadership on environmental issues in Vermont.

The award is named in honor of the former deputy regional administrator for EPA New England's office, who died in 2013 after 41 years of service to EPA. The Ira Leighton "In Service to States" Environmental Merit Award was initiated by several prominent New England environmental groups and by EPA, to recognize individuals whose work illustrates exceptional environmental stewardship and commitment to working for a clean and healthy environment for New England citizens.

The 2015 Ira Leighton "In Service to States" Environmental Merit Award was awarded to Justin Johnson for his years of work and many accomplishments leading Vermont's environmental efforts. Before recently being appointed Secretary of the Vermont Agency of Administration by Governor Peter Shumlin, Johnson served as Deputy Secretary of Vermont of Natural Resources since January 2013. Johnson has served as commissioner and deputy commissioner of the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation, where he began in 2004.

"EPA is very pleased to recognize Justin Johnson for the 2015 Leighton Award," said Curt Spalding, regional administrator of EPA's New England office. "Justin's career and many achievements continue to mean that Vermonters have a staunch advocate fighting for their rights to clean air, water and land supporting healthy vibrant communities."

While at the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources Johnson represented the state on the board of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, chaired the Mid-Atlantic/Northeast Visibility Union and served as Vermont's lead representative to the Environmental Council of the States. In his spare time he served four years as president of the White River Partnership, and four years on the board of Washington County Farm Bureau. He is now chair of the Finance Committee for the City of Barre.

Throughout Johnson's career in Vermont, he has been a strong proponent of 'good government' and the rule of law in pursuit of the mission of environmental protection. Having served under both Republican and Democratic administrations, he has navigated the complex landscape of environmental regulation in an apolitical and unflappable manner. He developed strong partnerships with EPA, other States, and regulated entities. His deep understanding of how government works coupled with a strong measure of common sense and appreciation of Vermont is best reflected in this recent quote from Johnson: "There are a number of challenges ahead of us, but working together we can build on Vermont's strengths and make this state even greater".

His first job Vermont state government was a marketing specialist at the then Department of Agriculture. He has had 18 years of experience in public management and policy development at the federal, state and local level in both the US and Australia, where he was born and raised. Johnson was a senior executive in a large municipal government in Australia serving 140,000 year-round residents and almost 2 million tourists each year and spent three years as chief-of-staff to a member of the Australian House of Representatives.

The Ira Leighton Award was conceived by EPA and New England environmental organizations including the New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission, the Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management, the Northeast Waste Management Officials' Association and the New England state Environmental Commissioners.

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