Create a free account to continue

EPA Turns 40, Honors Environmental Heroes (CA)

For Immediate Release: December 2, 2010, LOS ANGELES – Community activists, forward-thinking elected officials, innovative researchers, sustainable businesses, cutting edge green technologies and a young eco-activist are among the...

EPA Turns 40, Honors Environmental Heroes (CA)

Prestigious awards to be presented at Union Station in downtown Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES – Community activists, forward-thinking elected officials, innovative researchers, sustainable businesses, cutting edge green technologies and a young eco-activist are among the honorees to be recognized today at U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s 12th annual Environmental Awards Ceremony held in downtown Los Angeles, Calif.

The awards, held on the EPA’s 40th anniversary help celebrate "40 Years of Environmentalism." Since 1970, America’s environmental history has stood witness to both dramatic events and remarkable progress. For 40 years, EPA has carried out a mission to protect the air we breathe, to safeguard the water that flows through our communities and into our homes, to ban unsafe chemicals and pesticides, and to care for the land where we build neighborhoods, schools and businesses. In the last four decades, EPA’s work has benefitted every single American.

Today, new cars are 98 percent cleaner than in 1970 in terms of smog-forming pollutants. Back in 1980, American families and businesses recycled about 10 percent of trash. Today, 33 percent recycle – that’s like cutting green house gas emissions from more than 33 million automobiles.

In the Pacific Southwest, the number of hazardous waste landfills has decreased by 90 percent since 1980. In the same year, there were 19 hazardous waste incinerators in the Pacific Southwest, today there are no hazardous waste incinerators operating in the Region.

“From Arizona to California to Samoa, this year's winners’ fight to protect our air, water and land in the face of daily environmental challenges,” said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “These innovative green heroes prove that it is possible to make a difference and improve our environment, regardless of whether they are elected officials, business leaders, or community activists.”

EPA is joined by co-sponsors South Coast Air Quality Management District, San Joaquin Air Pollution Control District, and the Bay Area Quality Management District. Award recipients from California, Arizona, Hawaii and American Samoa are participating in a panel discussion following the awards ceremony to discuss critical environmental issues facing the Pacific Southwest.

“During the past 40 years, EPA has played an important role in helping to clean up Southern California’s smog,” said Barry R. Wallerstein, executive officer of the South Coast Air Quality Management District. “EPA’s efforts along with those by today’s honorees will help ensure continued environmental improvements in the future.”

Each year, U.S. EPA's Pacific Southwest office encourages citizens in California, Arizona, Nevada, Hawaii and the Pacific Islands to nominate individuals or organizations for 12 Environmental Awards. This program offers a great opportunity to recognize individuals and groups outside of EPA who are working to protect public health and the environment. Awards are granted to scientists, teachers, journalists, citizen activists, young people, organizations, business representatives, public officials, and others committed to protecting public health and preserving our natural surroundings.

The winners of this year’s EPA Environmental Awards are:

Climate Change Champion

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
State of California
Sacramento, CA

The Governor’s impressive environmental legacy includes several groundbreaking achievements, including:

· The 2006 Global Warming Solutions Act (AB32) – the world’s first comprehensive program of regulatory and market mechanisms to reduce green house gases.

· A waiver from US EPA to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from California’s passenger vehicles.

· A public-private partnership to build a hydrogen highway in California to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and clean up the air.

· The Million Solar Roofs Initiative to provide 3,000 MW of clean renewable energy and reduce green house gases by 3 million tons.

These achievements, combined with initiatives on carbon emission goals, low carbon fuels and emission have made the governor a worthy recipient of EPA’s Climate Change Champion Award.

Green Government

Mayor Ashley Swearengin
City of Fresno, CA

Mayor Ashley Swearengin is fully invested in applying smart growth and sustainability principles as the city plans its future. A few years ago, the city issued itsStrategy for Achieving Sustainability, which puts into action 25 strategies to bolster the "triple bottom line" of providing economic, environmental, and social benefits. One of the 25 strategies in this plan is to achieve a 75 percent diversion to landfills by 2012 and zero waste to landfills by 2025. As of October, the city achieved a 74 percent landfill diversion rate. This would not have been possible without the actions of the City Council, the city's solid waste team, and most importantly, the committed community. The city is now in the process of developing forward-thinking downtown and neighborhood revitalization and growth plans to achieve more livable communities, preservation of agricultural land, cleaner air, healthier residents, and greater economic opportunity.

Zero-Waste Advocate

American Samoa EPA and American Samoa House of Representative Taotasi Soliai
Pago Pago, AS

In the fall of 2007, the American Samoa Government worked to establish legislation to ban plastic bags. The American Samoa EPA led the way and worked diligently to overcome serious obstacles as some saw this legislative effort as a serious challenge to doing business. Their efforts were aided by House of Representative Taotasi Archie Soliai, who facilitated a re-write of the proposed legislation. Ultimately the governor signed the bill and it went into effect October 2010. The EPA applauds the American Samoa Governor Togiola Tulafono, American Samoa EPA, the Legislature, and America Samoa residents for enacting restrictions banning plastic shopping bags -- reducing their waste and protecting the environment in a single action.

American Samoa is not only the first U.S. Territory to ban plastic shopping bags, but one of the first states to enact state or territory-wide legislation. American Samoa’s leadership in the Pacific islands to ban plastic shopping bags will decrease the amount of plastic waste in the territory and directly protect marine and bird life in the Pacific.

Tribal Environmental Protection

Alex Cabillo
Hualapai Tribe
Peach Springs, AZ

Alex Cabillo is a tireless advocate for tribal environmental efforts and a recognized leader in regional and national environmental policy. As the Water Resources Manager for the Hualapai Tribe, Alex's efforts have led the tribe to establish and administer an impressive suite of Clean Water Act Programs that serve as a model to other tribes nationwide. As one example, Mr. Cabillo oversaw the cleanup of an abandoned cistern, located near one of the tribe’s drinking water wells, that contained a creosote-like substance. He worked with multiple federal agencies for more than two years to complete the cleanup, and successfully removed more than ten tons of contaminated materials from the site. Mr. Cabillo has also been a long-time participant on the EPA’s National Tribal Operations Committees, serves on the National Tribal Water Council and has been a strong tribal voice since the council's inception. He continues to provide a strong voice for the restoration and protection of tribal waters regionally and nationally. Alex Cabillo is an inspiration to many, and we are proud to present him with this recognition of his outstanding work.

Climate Change Science

Dr. Chip Fletcher,
Center for Island Climate Adaptation and Policy (ICAP)
University of Hawai'i
Honolulu, HI

Dr. Charles “Chip” Fletcher is a chairperson and professor in the Department of Geology & Geophysics at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu. Dr. He is also an integral part of the University’s Center for Island Climate Adaptation and Policy. The Center connects individuals and institutions to the scope of climate knowledge at the University of Hawai'i. The Center works in the areas of law, policy, planning, and science to mitigate and adapt to climate change while embracing the wisdom of local, traditional cultures. Dr. Chip Fletcher not only studies Island climate adaptation and policy issues, but he also excels at communicating his findings to policy makers and the public.

Environmental Justice Champion

Rebecca Quintana
Committee for a Better Seville
Visalia, CA

Becky Quintana was born and raised by farmworker parents in the rural town of Seville in Northeastern Tulare County, California. Today, she’s a school bus driver who is fighting for her community's access to water that's clean, safe, and affordable. For years, Seville has struggled with an abandoned and dilapidated water system, which often resulted in limited water pressure and bacterial contamination. However, residents weren’t aware that their drinking water, which runs straight through an irrigation ditch, would be unsafe to drink because of high levels of nitrates. Over the past year, Becky has worked with passion and dedication to help residents educate themselves about the safety of their drinking water and the necessary policy-level changes needed to bring safe drinking water to the community. She has advocated at the local, state and regional level for sustainable solutions and better groundwater water protections. In 2009, her efforts as the founder and spokesperson of Committee for a Better Seville led the county to temporarily take over the town’s water system, and more recently, prompted the Regional Water Quality Control Board to investigate the contamination sources. Her efforts have pushed the development of groundwater protection requirements for irrigated agriculture, and provided resources for two pilot studies on how to address nitrate contamination in the Tulare Lake Basin.

Green Chemistry

Jeanne Rizzo
Breast Cancer Fund
San Francisco, CA

Jeanne Rizzo is a tremendous champion of green chemistry, as well as an award-winning film/music/theater producer, and a nurse. Jeanne provides notable leadership in green chemistry and pioneering efforts to reduce everyone's exposure to toxic chemicals. She is the President and CEO of the Breast Cancer Fund where she has articulately spotlighted the importance of breast cancer prevention strategies and the need to reduce our exposures to chemicals associated with breast cancer and other health impacts. Under Jeanne's direction, The Breast Cancer Fund just issued an important new report, State of the Evidence: The Connection Between Breast Cancer and the Environment, that sheds light on the environmental causes of breast cancer and what public policies are needed to reduce breast cancer risk. She has been instrumental in catalyzing green chemistry legislation and initiatives in California and across the country. She advocated for California laws that created the first statewide biomonitoring program, advanced the safety of cosmetic products and initiated California's green chemistry program. Currently, she is advancing policies to reduce our exposure to bisphenol A, among other chemicals.

Sustainable Agriculture Champion

Dino Giacomazzi
Giacomazzi Dairy
Hanford, CA

Dino is the 4th generation to manage Giacomazzi Dairy, a family farm of 900 cows and 600 acres, which has operated at the same location in Hanford, California since 1893. Dino approaches his farm as a holistic system, and is continually looking for cultural practices that are sustainable both environmentally and economically. Working with USDA-NRCS & the University of California, Dino initiated the first demonstration evaluation of a strip-tillage corn planting system in the Central San Joaquin Valley, and has been experimenting since with different implements, plant varieties, and planting configurations to optimize that system. Strip-tillage is a farming practice that involves tilling in narrow strips rather than disturbing soil in the entire field. This process radically reduces diesel, dust, and particulate emissions as well as fuel and labor costs. For his corn-wheat rotation, Dino has reduced the annual number of tillage passes for each of his fields from 14 to 2. Dino has hosted several demonstrations and field days which have led to strip-till adoption in more than 25,000 acres in California, and has participated in numerous studies that will provide a better understanding of the relationship between dairy operations and air and water quality.

Youth Leader

Aitan Grossman
Palo Alto, CA

Aitan Grossman is a 14-year old on a mission. Concerned about the survival of our planet, and worried that adults weren’t taking seriously the impacts of global warming, at 12 years of age Aitan wrote a song about global warming, titled “100 Generations”. He formed a band to record his song and took it on the cyber-road. Aitan reached out to children across 5 continents --Africa, Europe, Asia, and the Americas -- teaching them the song, recording it in multiple languages, and posting it on his own website ( Since its release for Earth Day 2009, that song has gone viral, with more than 500,000 hits on the website, from 110 countries! The United Nations broadcasted the song to 5,000 youth leaders worldwide, and the song is now used as an environmental teaching tool by school districts in cities across the United States. At quite a young age, Aitan has created an enviable international climate awareness campaign using tools that speak to his generation -- music and social media.

Low-Impact Development for Water Quality

City of Hermosa Beach,CA
Pier Avenue Improvement Project

(contact: Frank Senteno)

The City of Hermosa Beach’s Pier Avenue Improvement Project effectively uses Low Impact Development to protect water quality. Stormwater runoff is the number one cause of coastal water quality impairments here in southern California and across the nation. Hermosa Beach has recognized that by using low-impact development techniques, natural pre-development conditions can be mimicked by directing stormwater flows to permeable, vegetated areas. By taking advantage of tools to naturally filter out bacteria, this project reduces pollutant loads to the Santa Monica Bay beaches' total maximum daily load. Hermosa Beach took on a great logistical challenge by retrofitting the commercial center of its town, where 1,800 feet of Pier Avenue was redesigned to create an attractive, pedestrian-friendly community center. Where businesses were once subject to frequent flooding, there is now state-of-the-art stormwater management, including innovative trash interceptors. Runoff from a 36-acre drainage area is directed to infiltrate beneath new public spaces at intersections and to a center median, all of which have been newly landscaped with drought tolerant vegetation.

Clean Air Technology Award

Technology Advancement Program, San Pedro Bay Ports' Clean Air Action Plan

Port of Los Angeles
Kevin Maggay, Environmental Management Division, San Pedro, CA
Port of Long Beach
Heather Tomley, Long Beach, CA

The Technology Advancement Program is a landmark initiative developed as a component of the San Pedro Bay Ports’ Clean Air Action Plan. The program’s mission is to move toward an emissions-free port by accelerating the verification or commercial availability of new, clean technologies through evaluation and demonstration. While the primary focus of the program is on technologies with potential to reduce diesel particulate matter, nitrogen oxides and sulfur oxides, the technologies also often reduce greenhouse gases and fine particulate matter. A few examples of the projects that were selected last year include the development of the world’s first diesel electric hybrid tug by Foss Maritime, where the hybrid tug performed comparable to a diesel tugboat, but with an anticipated 44 percent reduction in emissions and 20-30 percent reduction in fuel consumption. The program also selected the Balqon Advanced Battery Demonstration, which converted an electric drayage vehicle and an electric yard tractor from lead acid battery to lithium battery technology. Technology behind the Bluefield Holdings/Krystallon Seawater Scrubber was shown to treat and significantly reduce emissions from the boiler and auxiliary engines of a class 11 container ship. It’s estimated that the retrofitted vessel will result in decreases of 80-85 percent in diesel particulate matter, 99.9 percent in sulphur oxides, and more than 90 percent in volatile organic carbons. This innovative program facilitates not only the development of new technologies, but also adoption throughout the port industry.

Green Business of the Year

Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
Chico, CA

Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. is recognized for its environmental leadership in the brewing industry. Since 1980, the company has consistently implemented sustainability policies and projects that reduced the company’s environmental footprint across all of its operations. The brewery implemented a zero-waste policy -- diverting 99.5 percent of its solid waste from the landfill through source reduction, recycling, and composting. Sierra Nevada has made significant investments in renewable power, which now supplies 85 percent of the company’s electricity needs. The company has reduced its water use year after year, and has also implemented an innovative water recycling program. Beyond its own operations, the brewery is working with its suppliers and partners to reduce the impact of their products. Sierra Nevada is the largest buyer of organic hops in the country, and established a “Farm with your Brewer” program to encourage small hops farmers to adopt sustainable practices. From field to bottle, Sierra Nevada Brewing Company strives to maintain a healthy balance between environmental stewardship, social equity, and economic stability.