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EPA recognizes Montanans for Environmental Achievement

Release Date: 6/6/2000
Contact Information:
EPA 303-312-6331,

Release Date: 6/6/2000
Contact Information:
EPA 303-312-6401,

Release Date: 6/6/2000
Contact Information:
EPA 303-312-6780

      Denver -- Montana has top-notch environmental news reporting, better air quality
information, stronger recycling and a water-quality assessment model for states and tribes thanks to Montanans recognized Tuesday by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in Denver.

EPA announced its Environmental Achievement awards to:

LYNETTE HINTZE and CHERY SABOL of the Daily Inter Lake newspaper of Kalispell for breaking the story of asbestos-related health problems in Libby with their November 14, 1999 Sunday edition. In the weeks that followed, this team produced dozens more stories, giving in-depth treatment to the local human costs, to technical aspects of asbestos to the movement of legislation in Washington. Their reporting, EPA said, was clear and unembellished, leaving readers to make their own judgments.

CLAIR JOHNSON, of the Billings Gazette has written solid, factual, accurate accounts of some of the most complicated environmental issues on the northern Great Plains since 1985, according to EPA. She distinguished herself in her handling of the complex issues surrounding control of sulfur dioxide emissions in the Billings/Laurel area. EPA Regional air staffers say her reporting contributed markedly to the public’s understanding of a difficult technical matter. “She gets the story and reports it with fairness, balance and accuracy,” EPA said.

Seattle Post-Intelligencer reporter ANDREW SCHNEIDER was also recognized for strong reporting on the Libby asbestos issue. Many credit the speed of the Agency’s Libby response to the Schneider articles which were picked up by news organizations across the country. At the time of his nomination, Schneider had written some 28 articles and had begun following the trail of Libby vermiculite around the country. The full scope of his revelations is not clear even today. It is clear he helped focus the nation’s attention on a long-simmering public health problem.

KATHY IRISH, of the Montana Department of Environmental Quality, who submits the State’s air quality monitoring information into a national data base. Ms. Irish also created an air monitoring section on the Department’s website which set the standard for the way environmental information will be presented there. She designed a way for industry to submit its air monitoring reports electronically, speeding review and public access to that information. And she produced the first-of-its-kind “Citizen’s Guide to Air Quality in Montana” to help residents understand and participate in air quality decision-making.

BILL COVEY, recycling coordinator for State office buildings, for running a program that keeps some 500,000 pounds of recyclables from going to landfills each year. Covey coordinates recycling in some 50 buildings. When BFI closed its Helena Recycling Center in 1999, Covey quickly negotiated a short term contract with Pacific Steel and Recycling which had not been handling paper and cardboard. He recently negotiated another year for the contract.

SETH MAKEPEACE, hydrologist for the Salish and Kootenai Tribes who assessed the amount and causes of impairment to water bodies on the Flathead Reservation. The assessment exceed EPA’s expectations and included new uses of GIS (geographic information system) maps. The Agency said it intends to use Makepeace’s work as an example for other states and tribes. The work also makes the Tribes eligible for funding to address irrigation runoff, the largest source of water pollution on the reservation.

Makepeace and the Montanans were among 54 groups or individuals EPA recognized in its six-state Region 8 (MT, WY, ND, SD, UT and CO) this year.

Rebecca Hanmer, EPA’s Acting Regional Administrator in Denver said the awards recognize exceptional work by exceptional people whose commitment makes real and tangible differences in the environment.

Editors: For details on any awardee, please contact his/her nominator:

Hintze/Sabol Rich Lathrop 303 312 6780
Johnson Rich Lathrop 303 312 6780
Schneider Rich Lathrop 303 312 6780
Irish Mark Simonich 406 444 2544
Covey Debra Clevenger 406 441 1120 x221
Makepeace Kris Jensen 303 312 6237