EPA Turns 40, Honors University of Hawaii Professor as Environmental Hero

article top

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 winner of this year’s EPA Environmental Award in Hawaii is Dr. Chip Fletcher, University of Hawai’i professor for his work in climate change science with the university’s Center for Island Climate Adaptation and Policy. 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.

Submitted by Margot Perez-Sullivan of the EPA