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Maine Citizen and Two Groups Receive Prestigious Regional Environmental Awards

Release Date: 05/03/2006
Contact Information: David Deegan, (617) 918-1017

(Boston, Mass. - May 3, 2006) One Mainer and two Maine groups will be honored on Thursday, May 4 in Boston’s Faneuil Hall as EPA presents the 2006 Environmental Merit Awards.

Recognizing significant contributions to environmental awareness and problem solving, the Maine awardees include one for business, industry and professional organizations, one for efforts by local, state or federal, and one individual award.

Given out by EPA since 1970, the merit awards honor individuals and groups who have shown particular ingenuity and commitment in their efforts to preserve the region's environment. This year's competition drew approximately 50 nominations from across New England.

“These awards are among the highest honors EPA can bestow to recognize environmental accomplishments,” said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator for EPA’s New England Office. “The work of these individuals, organizations and businesses reflect the best attributes of New Englanders, working to find solutions to environmental issues. I offer my gratitude for their extraordinary contributions in protecting the environment.”

The winners from Maine were among 19 from across New England. Awards were given 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 may present lifetime achievement awards for individuals.

Environmental Merit Award Winners from Maine are:

Individual Environmental Award:
Anne D. (Andy) Burt
Environmental Justice Director, Maine Council of Churches

From her base as the Environmental Justice Director for the Maine Council of Churches, Andy Burt has demonstrated an enormous personal commitment to environmental protection. Her capacity to lift spirits, mobilize creativity and energize individuals, environmental organizations, congregations and government has resulted in a long list of accomplishments in recent years. From designing a “Let There Be Light” program where congregations audit and reduce their energy use resulting in a 2 million pound reduction of carbon dioxide emissions, to organizing over 35 local churches to “practice their faith by caring for creation” through the “Earthcare Team Initiative,” Andy’s long list of accomplishments are seemingly endless. Other activities include: bringing together environmental groups and the Maine DEP to enact a pilot “Clean Air Zone” in Freeport, Maine, an anti-idling initiative aimed at changing public behavior; working as a key stakeholder in the development of “A Climate Action Plan for Maine 2004” which produced the first greenhouse gas plan in the nation developed to meet statutory emissions reductions; and developing a new initiative “Soul Food” in partnership with the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association to promote environmentally responsible farming for local food production and consumption.

Local, State or Federal Governmental Environmental Merit Award:
ThinkBlueMaine Partnership

In order to address the problem of polluted stormwater runoff from damaging Maine’s urban streams and water bodies, the ThinkBlueMaine Partnership was created to raise awareness and change human behaviors to help reduce the amount of contaminants that enter Maine’s waterways. The Partnership includes 28 municipalities that are responsible for meeting stormwater regulations, Soil and Water Conservation Districts, the Maine State Planning Office, the Maine Department of Environmental Protection and the University of Maine Cooperative Extension. The Partnership has produced and funded mass media ads to promote clean water, used focus groups and social marketing to orchestrate an education campaign, and planned area-wide cleanup days at many river locations throughout the state. The communities worked to stencil storm drains to educate people that whatever goes down the drain ends up in a local body of water and created a website linking all of the communities, events and activities around clean water issues. Through the Partnership, many of Maine’s regulated stormwater communities, agencies and organizations agreed to take steps to go beyond state and federal stormwater requirements by informing people on ways that they can change their behaviors to reduce stormwater pollution.

Business, Industry and Professional Organizations Environmental Merit Award:
Tom’s of Maine

Founded by Tom and Kate Chappell in 1970, Tom’s of Maine is based on the central belief that a company can be financially successful while behaving in a socially responsible and environmentally sensitive manner. In each of its 36 years since then, the company has grown both financially and with regard to social and environmental practices. In 2005, Tom’s of Maine was able to make further advancements in lighting, electricity, and recycling. They replaced 400-watt metal fixtures with sensor-controlled fluorescent energy-saving fixtures to save 250,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity per year. They also converted 100% of their electricity consumption to wind energy to eliminate the production of 1.5 million points of carbon dioxide emissions annually. And finally, all of Tom’s of Maine increased their recycling to 200,000 pounds per year and eliminated half of their weekly trash pick-ups by recycling aluminum tubes, folding cartons, mixed paper, and shrink wrap. This company continues to produce personal care products using natural ingredients derived from plants and minerals that are biodegradable and manufactured and packaged in earth friendly ways. They annually donate 10% of all profits to charitable organizations and encourage their employees to use 5% of their paid time to do volunteer work.

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