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Release Date: 04/21/2000
Contact Information: Amy Miller, EPA Press Office (617-918-1042) Mark Sinclair, Conservation Law Foundation (802-223-5992)

BOSTON - A project aimed at promoting rail travel in northern New England was among three New England projects that were selected this week to receive a total of $420,125 from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The Conservation Law Foundation (CLF), based in Boston, was chosen to receive $200,000 for its project called the "Northern New England Rail Action Project." The grant was among 27 projects chosen nationwide from about 1,000 applicants to receive funding through EPA's Sustainable Development Challenge Grant Program.

The grant will help CLF with planning and public education around expansion of a regional rail network in northern New England.

"As communities grow and change, they face the challenge of trying to preserve their natural resources and character at the same time they boost their local economy," said Mindy S. Lubber, Regional Administrator for EPA New England. "This project will help protect the air and water throughout New England as commuters and vacationers are encouraged to travel in trains instead of cars."

"There is renewed interest from northern communities and our New England congressional delegation in revitalizing our regional rail system as a viable transportation alternative," said Nancy L. Girard, director of the Conservation Law Foundation's New Hampshire Advocacy Center. "CLF believes this momentum, timed with EPA's sustainable development grant, provides options to extend the public's investment in our transportation infrastructure, improve air quality and reduce congestion. Northern New England has the capacity to reinvest in its dormant rail system and bring opportunity to its communities and businesses as well as protection to the region's environment."

"With the EPA grant, we will be able to work with a broad coalition of businesses and communities in northern New England to jumpstart a revitalized regional rail system," said Mark Sinclair, senior attorney with Conservation Law Foundation's Vermont Advocacy Center. "CLF believes that a revival of rail has the potential to restore the region's transportation vitality, strengthen our downtowns, and protect the environment. Its high time we reinvested in New England's proud but neglected rail network."

The other projects that will be awarded grants were:

    • The Vermont Department of Housing and Community Affairs, which received $124,125 for a project to develop plans and guidelines for addressing sprawl "hot spots" along the state's interstate exchanges.
    • The Rockingham Planning Commission in New Hampshire, which received $96,000 to help with efforts to find alternative zoning and planning methods that will help the Seacoast region manage growth.
Last year EPA awarded New England $495,000 for sustainable grants. These went to projects that helped managed growth in Adams, Mass; Kennebec Valley and Jay, Maine; Burlington, Vt.; and New Hampshire.