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EPA Commends Environmental Achievers in Virgin Islands

Release Date: 04/21/2005
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For Immediate Release: Thursday, April 21, 2005

(#05040) NEW YORK -- In celebration of the 35th anniversary of Earth Day, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today honored an individual and a non-profit group for their outstanding efforts to protect the environment in the Virgin Islands. Deputy Regional Administrator George Pavlou presented EPA's Environmental Quality Awards at a ceremony in EPA’s offices in Manhattan. New York City Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe, who was also commended for his continued dedication to protecting the environment, delivered the keynote address.

"These winners are environmental trail blazers who make our world a better place," said Deputy Regional Administrator Pavlou. "By being leaders and making local changes, the award recipients demonstrate that we can all have a positive impact on the health of our nation's air, land and water."

EPA selects Environmental Quality Award winners from non-profit, environmental and community groups, individual citizens, educators, business organizations and members of the news media. The honor is given to those individuals or organizations that have made significant contributions to improving the environment in EPA Region 2, which covers New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and seven federally-recognized Indian Nations. The Agency receives nominations for the awards from both inside and outside EPA.

EPA also acknowledged the winner and honorable mention recipients in the annual President’s Environmental Youth Award (PEYA) program. This program encourages young people to study the environment and better understand their relationship to it. The national competition is open to students from kindergarten through twelfth grade who actively participate in noteworthy environmental projects. Out of the hundreds of competitors, one winner is chosen from each of EPA’s ten regions and several others are chosen to receive honorable mentions. This years’ winners received the award today from President Bush in a White House Rose Garden ceremony. For more information about either competition, go to

Individual Citizen

Nicolas Drayton
Nicholas Drayton is Caribbean Ecosystems Manager for the Ocean Conservancy in the U.S. Virgin Islands. He is a lifelong advocate for the environment and ocean resources. Nick has been instrumental in planning and developing the Virgin Islands Rapid Ecological Assessment, an extensive study that provides agencies and individuals with data to better understand the extent of ocean and land resources. He completed a spawning aggregation study to provide management recommendations and information for the public. Recently, he initiated the publication,
State of the Coral Reefs of the Virgin Islands, to inform the VI government, elected officials and decision-makers about these natural resources and the threats they face.

Non-Profit Organization, Environmental or Community Group

The Biodiesel Project Group
The Biodiesel Project Group of the St. Croix Vocational Diesel Technology Program was the outgrowth of a lesson plan on diesel fuel systems. Students became interested in alternative fuels and their effect on the environment, operation of the equipment and fuel mileage. Their instructor encouraged a pilot program that included researching less polluting bio-fuels, their production and effects. This project led to a second in which the students created a biodiesel fuel. Their project gained recognition locally and nationally, and the students continued the project with the design and construction of a biodiesel processor that can produce 10 gallons of biodiesel fuel in one cycle. The fuel was tested in several vehicles, and the byproduct was also used to make hand soap.