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EPA HONORS 17 NORTHERN CALIFORNIA ENVIRONMENTAL HEROES
Release Date: 4/18/2000
Contact Information: Leo Kay, Press Office, 415/744-2201
SAN FRANCISCO During an Earth Day ceremony in San Francisco today, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Regional Administrator Felicia Marcus presented plaques to 17 California organizations and individuals in recognition of their efforts to protect and preserve the environment in 1999.
"Today's honorees have applied creativity, teamwork and leadership in addressing many of Northern California's most pressing and complex environmental problems," Marcus said. "Thanks to the efforts of these individuals, our air, water and land will be cleaner and safer for generations to come. The winners -- in fact all of the nominees -- set an example for all of us to follow."
The EPA Region 9 Earth Day Celebration acknowledges commitment and significant contributions to the environment in California, Arizona, Hawaii, Nevada and tribal lands. Forty six groups and individuals were selected from 164 nominees received this year from businesses, media, local, state and federal government officials, tribes, environmental organizations and citizen activists.
The Northern Calfornia winners and basis for recognition are:
Environmental, Community or Non-Profit
Silicon Valley Pollution Prevention Center (San Jose) The center represents the evolution of environmental action from command and control pollution prevention and from litigation to dialogue between government, industry and public interest organizations. The center played a key role in developing a new approach to lessen the amount of copper and nickel discharged into Southern San Francisco Bay an issue that befuddled local, state and federal authorities for years. In partnership with the Silicon Valley Manufacturing Group, the center has worked extensively with high-tech industries to promote water use efficiency and on-site recycling programs. The center also helps public agencies in the local watershed incorporate responsible pesticide practices.
Marylia Kelley, Tri-Valley Citizens Against a Radioactive Environment, "CARES" (Livermore)
Tri-Valley CARES provides community input at the Lawrence Livermore National Lab Superfund Site and at the lab's Site 300 in Tracy. Executive Director Marylia Kelley has educated herself on all aspects of Superfund and the National Contingency Plan, and hasmastered the formidable technical knowledge required to understand cleanups. Her comments to both EPA and the Department of Energy are useful and well-reasoned. She has developed community acceptance criteria that she has circulated for use by the whole community. The work of Tri-Valley CARES has been endorsed by Physicians for Social Responsibility and Western States Legal Foundation.
Water Forum (Sacramento)
Concerned that future droughts and increased demands could affect both the health of the Lower American River and the reliability of water supplies, a diverse group of business and agricultural leaders, citizens groups, environmentalists, water managers and local governments in Sacramento County adopted the Water Forum Agreement. It was an effort that took six years and thousands of hours of intense negotiations aimed at providing a reliable and safe regional water supply while preserving the fishery, wildlife, recreational and aesthetic values of the Lower American River. Several elements of the agreement are now being implemented.
Kim Stokely, Adopt-A-Watershed (Hayfork)
Adopt-A-Watershed was founded in 1990 by Stokely, a wildlife biologist and science teacher in the rural community of Hayfork, California. Using the local watershed as an integrating context for learning, students and volunteers lead long-term field studies, restoration projects and community education projects. Since its inception, Adopt-A-Watershed has developed 17 grade-level-specific curriculum units designed to meet National Science Standards. It has trained more than 8,000 teachers and 500 community coordinators to implement the program -- with an estimated 50,000 students participating in the program each year.
City of Pacifica, Wastewater Division
Wastewater treatment in the Pacifica historically has been centered around an ocean discharge. The city, however, has had five ocean outfalls that have failed and broken up in the rough Pacific conditions. A citizens committee was formed to consider alternatives, which led to the development of the Calera Creek Wetland Restoration and Water Recycling Plant. In May 2000, a new buried tertiary treatment plant discharging into a restored wetlands in an old rock quarry will be completed. As a result, an abandoned rock quarry and degraded stream have been restored; the targeted endangered species are flourishing; a problematic ocean outfall is being eliminated; and recycled water and recyclable sludge are being produced.
Water Education Foundation's "Colorado River Project" (Sacramento)
Water quality and supply issues of the Colorado River severely impact two countries, seven states, numerous American Indian tribes and millions of people. To facilitate discussion, knowledge sharing, and sound decision making on this valuable ecosystem, the Water Education Fund has developed the highly successful "Colorado River Project." This project disseminates information on important issues facing the river, including water quality, endangered species and flow regimes. Accomplishments include: river report newsletter distributed to 3,000 people; Western Water magazine issue focused on the Colorado River; a stakeholder symposium; a lower Colorado River water tour; and educational posters and a fact card.
Peggy Saika, Asian Pacific Environmental Network (Oakland)
Under Saika's direction, the network has been a longstanding environmental justice leader, providing guidance to EPA through its work on the National Environmental Justice Advisory Council and fighting for recognition of the unique challenges facing Asian-American communities. The network developed a project in Richmond to protect the health of 10,000 Laotian residents who are exposed to high industrial toxin emissions. Last year, after residents who spoke limited English were not informed how to protect themselves after a refinery explosion, the project encouraged the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors to expand the English-only automated phone alert system to include multi-language calls.
Mohammed Colin Nuru,
San Francisco League of Urban Gardeners Nuru has initiated numerous programs that have helped SLUG grow from a small gardening group into one of the country's most active grassroots social justice organizations whose primary emphasis is food security and sustainability. He oversees some 25 innovative projects each year including community garden construction, public landscaping, native plant restoration, environmental education, and training for low-income youth and adults in gardening and carpentry. One of Nuru's many successes is the St. Mary's Urban Youth Farm, where SLUG helped transform a former Bernal Heights dump site into a what is now viewed as a national model for urban farms.
"Cities For Climate Protection Campaign"
International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (Berkeley)
ICLEI helps local governments analyze their operations, set targets for greenhouse gas reduction, and take actions to meet their goals. There are more than 364 local governments worldwide participating in the Cities For Climate Protection Campaign, including such western cities as Honolulu, Los Angeles, Berkeley, Oakland, San Francisco, San Jose, Sacramento, San Diego and several others. Each has adopted a resolution committing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the local government and the entire community. By 1998 the U.S. CCP Campaign had identified 176 actions by participating cities and counties that prevented emissions of 5.4 million tons of greenhouse gases and saved $25.7 million in energy costs.
Dr. Bill Pease, Environmental Defense (Oakland)
Since joining the Environmental Defense Fund in 1995, Pease has worked to identify major preventable diseases associated with pollution and evaluate how scientific information can be used to establishregulatory priorities. He has also revolutionized community awareness through projects such as www.scorecard.org, a free online service that uses data to help citizens find out about and act on environmental threats in their own neighborhoods. Thousands of people use EDF's online tools every week, faxing or emailing legislators and polluters alike in efforts to clean up neighborhoods across the country.
Donna Liu, Natural Resources Defense Council (San Francisco)
Liu has been described as a "tireless advocate for this innovative tool to decrease automobile use, encourage inner city development, discourage suburban infringement into undeveloped areas, and enable lower income citizens to become homeowners." The Location Efficient Mortgage rewards people who own fewer cars and drive less, live in urban areas convenient to services, shops, and public transit, by enabling them to devote a greater portion of their income to mortgage payments than a regular mortgage. The program was launched in Seattle in 1999 and will be marketed in Los Angeles, Chicago and San Francisco during 2000.
Whitney Dotson, Contra Costa Health Services (Richmond)
Whitney Dotson works to address environmental issues in Parchester North Richmond and the Iron Triangle communities of Richmond and San Pablo. These communities face a number of environmental threats from nearby oil refineries, other large industrial sources and the county dump. Resolving environmental problems in this community requires persistence, resolve and good community skills, humor and an ability to bring people together who come from all walks of life. Dotson inspires trust with government officials and neighborhood residents to solve real problems.
Local, State, Tribal or Federal Government
City of San Jose, Environmental Services Department
The Environmental Services Department was formed in 1993 to bring together the city's environmental programs: water pollution control, watershed protection, waste management and business services. This comprehensive approach has: promoted the concept of green buildings by developing environmentally friendly construction guidelines; funded and led scientific studies of copper and nickel in San Francisco Bay; implemented energy saving measures and improved wastewater treatment processes, and; implemented efforts that include scientific studies, pollution prevention, source control, flow reduction measures, water recycling and conservation, watershed analysis, and public outreach to clean up runoff to the bay.
Yolo County Transportation District (Woodland)
The six-person district has helped ease traffic congestion in Yolo County by expanding service to meet riders' commuter needs, many of whom are low income minorities. Yolobus's Route 42 increased ridership by 82 percent from 1998 to 1999 by expanding to hourly runs seven days a week to cover Woodland, Davis, West Sacramento, Downtown Sacramento and the Sacramento International Airport. Yolobus is the largest bus system in the area to have bicycle carriers installed on all fixed route buses, which has been widely used. The district was also among the first in Northern California to commit to pursuing natural gas technology for its fleet.
Betsy Rosenberg, KCBS' "Trash Talk" (San Francisco)
Rosenberg, an award winning broadcast journalist, developed an informative radio segment called "Trash Talk," which is aired on KCBS. This unique radio feature provides the public with a link between their everyday habits and the resultant environmental impacts. The underlying concept of her segments is recycling to reduce waste. But she goes beyond this concept to educate the public on purchasing recycled-content products and using creativity to design, dispose and plan for a future of continued waste reduction. It is Rosenberg's belief that with more knowledge and heightened awareness, listeners will be motivated to make simple changes that can add up to make a big difference in the quality of our ecosystems.
Business, Industry, Trade or Professional Organization
Auto/Fleet P2 All Stars (Northern California)
These businesses worked with EPA's Region 9 Pollution Prevention Team to develop high quality pollution prevention materials for automotive repair and vehicle fleet maintenance. Serving as demonstration sites, they showed that pollution prevention alternatives to standard industry practices were cost-effective, could be easily implemented, and improved environmental and worker health and safety. Each company gave generously of its time and experience. Ten fact sheets (case studies) and two videos were produced that are now being used throughout the region and nation.
Sierra Business Council (Truckee)
The Sierra Business Council is an environmentally minded coalition of over 500 businesses that recognizes the importance of natural and social capital -- not just financial capital -- as contributors to regional wealth. The council has reframed the "economy vs. environment" debate that has often divided communities in the region on issues such as logging. Instead, the council looks at the economy and the natural and social environment as equally important assets. Members quantify and promote this view with their innovative, annual "Sierra Nevada Wealth Index," which tracks natural, social, and environmental indicators.
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