News Releases from Region 09
EPA awards nearly $1 million to Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands
HONOLULU – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has awarded $962,275 to the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands’ Bureau of Environmental and Coastal Quality (BECQ) to strengthen its capacity to protect human health and the environment.
“The Bureau of Environmental and Coastal Quality has been a great partner in environmental protection,” said Alexis Strauss, EPA’s Acting Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “We are pleased to support its programs committed to achieving a better environment for all the residents of CNMI.”
The environmental protection work done by BECQ includes inspections, cleaning up formerly contaminated areas for productive use, monitoring the safety of pesticide use, ensuring clean beaches and safe drinking water, coral reef protection, and targeted projects to clean up polluted streams.
BECQ used recent EPA funding to help the CNMI recover from Typhoon Soudelor, including debris management, household hazardous waste collection, and re-establishing safe drinking water. Part of the current award will go towards cleaning up Saipan’s watersheds by reducing pollution from outhouses, illegal on-site disposal systems, animal waste, and storm water runoff. Funding will also be allocated to encourage local hotels to “green” their operations by installing energy efficient lighting and laundry services, with the goals of preventing pollution and reducing operating costs.
Other environmental priorities for the funds include:
• Protecting coral reefs and public health by monitoring beaches and water quality;
• Making coastal waters safe for fishing, swimming, and marine life;
• Ensuring safe, reliable drinking water;
• Conducting radon assessments at selected homes and institutional buildings;
• Eliminating imports of illegal pesticides and the use of unregistered foreign pesticides;
• Inspecting fuel storage tanks to prevent fuel leaks;
• Improving the hazardous waste and clean air programs management;
• Preparing for emergency responses; and
• Improving the management and access of environmental data.
The EPA’s Pacific Southwest Region (Region 9) administers and enforces federal environmental laws in Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, the Pacific Islands and 148 tribal nations -- home to 50 million people.