For more than 50 years, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) New England has recognized those who have made outstanding contributions to protect the region’s environment. The 2022 Environmental Merit Awards, presented in a virtual ceremony on Oct. 12, included several NEIWPCC partners.
NEIWPCC Commissioner Melanie Loyzim was honored with the Ira Leighton “In Service to States” Annual Award, for her leadership over the past two decades in promoting environmental protection and maintaining a viable economy. Loyzim is the commissioner of the Maine Department of Environmental Protection. Under her direction, Maine is embarking on a PFAS soil and water investigation to better understand the links between PFAS, application of biosolids, and impacts to agriculture.
The award is a tribute to Ira Leighton, who passed away in 2013, after serving 41 years at the U.S. EPA. Initiated in part by NEIWPCC, it honors Leighton’s dedication and passion for protecting the environment, and his ability to take ideas and make them actionable tasks that resulted in measurable improvements.
The EPA New England also presented an Environmental Lifetime Achievement award to NEIWPCC commissioner Martin Suuberg, who is the commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). Suuberg has more than 30 years of experience in environmental and natural resource agencies at the state and federal level. He has championed environmental justice within the DEP by diversifying the workforce and by expanding its mission statement to commit to advancing its goals.
“The collective work of this year’s award winners represents contributions in addressing climate change, furthering environmental justice, and restoring contaminated land, as well as minimizing exposure to harmful substances,” said EPA New England Regional Administrator David W. Cash. “EPA is proud to recognize these awardees’ great accomplishments and their continued efforts. They truly make a difference in our New England communities.”