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Vermont Individual & Group Receive Environmental Awards

Release Date: 05/17/2005
Contact Information:

Contact: David Deegan, EPA Office of Public Affairs, (617) 918-1017,

For Immediate Release: May 17, 2005; Release #dd050520

(Boston - May 17, 2005) One Vermonter and a group from the Green State were honored today in Boston’s Faneuil Hall as EPA presented the 2005 Environmental Merit Awards. Recognizing significant contributions to environmental awareness and problem solving, the Vermont awardees included one for local, state or federal government, and one lifetime achievement award.

The merit awards, given out since 1970, 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 70 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 Vermont were among 38 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 Vermont are:
Lifetime Achievement Environmental Merit Award:
Elizabeth McLain (Wibs)

Elizabeth McLain (Wibs) retired from a long and distinguished career in public service this year and deserves special recognition for protecting the citizens of Vermont and its environment. Appointed by Governor Jim Douglas in January 2003 as the Cabinet Secretary to the Agency of Natural Resources, Wibs was called to the position due to her experience and expertise in public service. Under Wibs’ rein, the Agency, whose mission is to protect and enhance Vermont's natural resources, played a critical role in facilitating the Governor’s permit reform plan and in implementing a program that made the agency more responsive to the requests of the citizens it serves. Wibs was also responsible for the initiation of Governor Douglas’ Clean and Clear Action Plan, and she accelerated implementation of the comprehensive Lake Champlain phosphorous total maximum daily load and enhanced pollution reduction for all state waters. At the Agency, Wibs led approximately 550 employees working in three departments: the Department of Environmental Conservation, the Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the Department of Forests, Parks, and Recreation. Wibs enjoyed an extensive career in management, government and advocacy. In addition to serving as a legislator, she served as Chief of Staff to Governor Snelling, as Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Conservation and Deputy Secretary of the Agency of Natural Resources. Prior to becoming ANR’s Cabinet Secretary, Wibs had been Vice-President for Community and Government Relations at the Vermont Student Assistance Corporation.

Local, State or Federal Governmental Environmental Merit Award:
Vermont Department of Health - Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program

In 2003, 68 percent of one year olds in Vermont and 19 percent of two year olds were tested for lead poisoning. Of those children tested, 3.9 percent of one year olds and 6.2 percent of two year olds had elevated blood lead levels. The Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program has mailed a postcard to all 142,000 households in the state with information on lead poisoning. This effort was also done in concert with a nationwide public service advertising campaign by federal agencies promoting Lead Poisoning Prevention Week, Oct. 14 -30, 2004. Posters were also posted prominently in high traffic areas in communities throughout the state; areas such as post offices, laundromats and libraries. The colorful and well designed post card and poster generated much needed public awareness of the risks associate with lead-based paint. The accomplishment of these goals will result in measurable and lasting public health and environmental benefits. This project was a collaborative effort between the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board, local departments of health; the Burlington Lead Program, and the Burlington Vermont Housing Authority. Such a public health message and marketing effort could easily be replicated and used widely in other areas.

Related Information:
Environmental Merit

2005 Recipients