2012-04-06 / Community

EPA Award Nominees Selected Winners

Congressman Bob Turner personally called two local groups to share the good news that they had each won a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) 2012 Environmental Quality Award.

“This is a great day for the Jamaica Bay Ecowatchers and Civics United for Railroad Environmental Solutions (CURES),” Turner said. “These are two extremely deserving groups who do important work on behalf of our community. I was proud to have nominated them, and am even prouder that they have been recognized for their devotion to their respective causes.”

Each year in April, the EPA honors a select number of individuals and organizations in all 10 of its regions nationally. The nominating categories are non-profit organizations, environmental or community groups; business and industry; environmental education; media; and federal, state, local or tribal government or agency – for their efforts to improve the environment.

New York’s 9th Congressional District falls into EPA Region 2 which includes New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Turner nominated the two local groups in February citing their tireless efforts “to protect the quality and integrity of our environment.”

This year marks the first time in the last ten years a community group, let alone two, from the 9th Congressional District has won this prestigious award.

“There are so many deserving nominees around the country who fight to preserve our nation’s natural beauty, its ecosystems, and improve the quality of life and health of Americans. I am thrilled that two of these groups call our district home.”

According to the EPA, to be selected for the award a group or individual must significantly contribute to improving environmental quality during the prior year. They must also demonstrate a high achievement level in the award category, create unique or locationspecific benefits, and produce results that are sustainable or reproducible, or increase public involvement in environmental action.

“Having met and worked with both groups since taking office, I know firsthand that they meet all of these requirements. The work that they do directly benefits our community, and I felt it necessary to make sure others knew of the important work they are doing,” Turner said. “I was pleased to speak to the leadership of both Jamaica Bay Ecowatchers and CURES to personally congratulate them for winning this award and thank them for their hard work.”

The Jamaica Bay Ecowatchers were founded in 1998 with a mission of protecting and restoring Jamaica Bay, a salt march spanning 25,000 acres.

Jamaica Bay Ecowatchers President Dan Mundy, Sr. was elated when Congressman Turner broke the news to him.

“Since his election, the congressman has done an outstanding job reaching out to people in the community and environmental groups around the bay to try and find out the needs of the bay and what he can do to help,” said Mundy. “We certainly appreciate his efforts on the bay. I think his living on the bay contributes a lot to his firsthand awareness of how important it is. We certainly appreciate the work his office did to recognize us. This award will help us continue the work that we are doing.”

CURES is a coalition of 14 civic associations from Maspeth, Middle Village, Ridgewood, Glendale, Elmhurst, Woodside, Forest Hills, and Woodhaven in Queens.

The organization seeks to reduce emissions from diesel based locomotives; ensure that rail yards are free of hazards and threats to neighborhood health and safety; it works to raise awareness about the expanded railroad operations pushing operations into residential areas of the rail yard at Fresh Pond Terminal due to the terminal’s current size; and efforts to decrease the levels of noise, noxious fumes, and air pollution.

CURES was honored by Congressman Turner’s recognition and nomination of its efforts regarding local freight rail issues.

“CURES is honored by Congressman Turner’s nomination and this US EPA Region 2 Environmental Quality Award.

The award acknowledges the dedication and commitment of CURES civic leaders and our partners to address environmental health and quality of life problems our communities suffer. This suffering is the result of public policy to increase freight rail transportation without comprehensive upgrades or enough alternative transportation modes, routes, and terminals. We will stay committed and work in partnership to identify baseline conditions and areas of concern, increase knowledge, awareness, and participation, and resolve these problems,” CURES co-chair and co-founder Mary Parisen stated.

Turner noted just how important civic groups and community involvement is to our area’s quality of life.

“These organizations and their members are the foundation of the political process through local activism. Their winning these awards is a testament to the commitment with which they serve,” Turner said.

Each winner will receive a plaque recognizing their environmental achievement at an awards ceremony on April 27 at the EPA office in New York City.

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