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EPA Applauds Environmental Champions from the U.S. Virgin Islands

Release Date: 04/24/2009
Contact Information: Elizabeth Myer (212) 637-3860,

(New York, N.Y.) In conjunction with Earth Day, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) presented Environmental Quality Awards to representatives from three projects across the U.S. Virgin Islands for their efforts to protect the environment. EPA Acting Regional Administrator George Pavlou presented the awards today at a ceremony at EPA’s office in Manhattan, and environmental advocate Majora Carter delivered keynote remarks.

“These exemplary environmental stewards have gone above and beyond for environmental change in local communities across the U.S. Virgin Islands,” said Pavlou. “Let their extraordinary contributions remind us all that we can make our world a better place and individuals really inspire others and make a lasting difference.”

EPA selects Environmental Quality Award winners from non-profit environmental and community groups, individual citizens, educators, business organizations and members of the news media, as well as from federal, state, local or tribal governments and agencies. The honor is given to those individuals or organizations that have made significant contributions to improving the environment and public health in EPA Region 2, which covers New Jersey, New York, 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. For information about the Environmental Quality Awards in EPA Region 2, go to

Business and Industry
Onaje Jackson, Sustainable Systems and Designs International, St. Croix
Onaje Jackson is the President and Founder of Sustainable Systems and Designs International (SSDI), a leader in earth-friendly planning, design and engineering solutions. Jackson continually collaborates with individuals, local businesses and international organizations that seek assistance to incorporate the latest in sustainable and renewable technology into their development projects. Under his guidance, SSDI has successfully completed a range of projects throughout the Caribbean, Central and South America.

Environmental Education
International Year of the Reef, 2008 St. Croix Planning Committee, Kingshill, St. Croix
The St. Croix International Year of the Reef 2008 Planning Committee is a local grassroots group that was formed to raise community awareness about the importance and fragility of coral reefs. In 2008, the group held 17 community events to promote coral reef awareness and stewardship to over 1,500 residents. The group’s media outreach led to 13 local newspaper articles and produced two public service announcements that provided information about local fishery regulations and encouraged listeners to leave marine resources—coral, sand, shells and animals—in their natural habitats.

Individual Citizen
Sean LaPlace, St. Thomas
An active member of many U.S. Virgin Islands organizations and volunteer groups, Sean LaPlace has contributed countless efforts to protecting the islands’ natural resources. He spearheaded a massive used tire collection campaign on St. Thomas in which a large group of volunteers removed close to 1,500 illegally dumped tires over just a few days. He testified before the Virgin Islands Coastal Zone Management committee at just nine years of age, advocating for the protection of endangered species and wildlife, and has been a frequent guest on local talk shows where he discusses the importance of responsible planning.