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U.S. EPA honors Pacific Southwest environmental heroes from Hawaii

Release Date: 04/14/2008
Contact Information: Dean Higuchi, 808-541-2711,

(04/14/08) SAN FRANCISCO -- During the agency's 10th annual Environmental Awards Ceremony in San Francisco today, U.S. EPA Regional Administrator Wayne Nastri presented plaques to over two dozen organizations and individuals throughout the Pacific Southwest including three from Hawaii, in recognition of their efforts to protect and preserve the environment in 2007.

“The EPA is pleased and honored to acknowledge the innovative and far-reaching environmental work achieved by this impressive group of organizations and individuals. They set an example for all of us to follow,” Nastri said. “All of this year's winners -- in fact, all of this year's nominees -- have made commendable efforts to protect and preserve our air, water and land or increased our awareness of the environmental challenges we face.”

The Region 9 Environmental Awards program acknowledges commitment and significant contributions to the environment in California, Arizona, Nevada, Hawaii, Pacific Islands and tribal lands. Twenty nine groups and individuals were selected from over 130 nominees received this year from businesses, local, government officials, tribes, media, environmental organizations and citizen activists.

The Hawaii winners and basis for recognition are:

Kapio Barber
Baseyard Hawaii/Nanakuli Housing Corporation
Honolulu, HI

In the United States, building materials account for one-third of the solid waste stream. Baseyard Hawaii collects and distributes reusable, surplus construction materials to families, schools and nonprofit organizations. As a program of the Nanakuli Housing Corporation -- a non-profit housing association created to assist the native Hawaiian communities on the Waianae Coast of Oahu -- Baseyard Hawaii allows families to get materials for home improvement projects at little or no cost. Since its inception in 2001, Baseyard Hawaii has kept nearly 1,000 tons of reusable materials from the island’s overcrowded landfill, and serves a nexus for community-based environmental stewardship.

Debbie Gowensmith, Hawaii program director
Community Conservation Network
Honolulu, HI

After only three years in Hawaii, non-profit Community Conservation Network has made a significant impact in protecting Hawaii’s nearshore marine environment. The nonprofit helped numerous community groups come together and form active local programs to protect their natural resources that include youth activities, educational programs and beach patrols. The nonprofit’s new “sea-roots” network is a true gift to Hawaii with tremendous transformative potential -- bringing new attention, resources and partnerships to long-neglected coastal areas in Hawaii.

Richard H. Maruya
Kaneohe, HI

Engineer Richard Maruya of Kaneohe, Hawaii, has dedicated his work to researching the use of hydrocarbon refrigerants in refrigerators, freezers and air conditioners. Maruya is working hard to develop a hydrocarbon-based product that is both highly efficient and environmentally friendly. Currently, all flammable refrigerants, including hydrocarbons, are unacceptable by the EPA in refrigeration and air conditioning. The EPA is continuing efforts to allow the safe use of alternatives in the refrigeration and air conditioning industries. Maruya’s hydrocarbon blend has not been approved or endorsed by the EPA, but his unwavering commitment to achieve this environmentally friendly product is worthy of praise. The EPA is awarding Maruya for his innovative research, and dedication to raising awareness about this important environmental issue.

For the complete list of winners, visit: