The United States Environmental Protection Agency recently hosted a virtual award ceremony to recognize New England residents for their contributions in protecting the environment. Two of the 20 total awardees work in Hartford, Connecticut.
According to a press release from Oct. 12, the EPA chose the awardees from a group of leaders, scientists and government officials whose work greatly involves protection of the environment.
“New England’s annual Environmental Merit Awards are given to community leaders, scientists, government officials, business leaders, schools, and students who represent different approaches, but a common commitment to environmental protection,” stated the press release.
Awards are organized into four categories: individual, business, government, and environmental, community, academia or nonprofit organization. EPA also has lifetime achievement awards available each year.
This year’s Connecticut residents who received awards were Betsey C. Wingfield, who received a Lifetime Achievement award, and Sharon Lewis, who received an award in the Individual category.
Wingfield, who is the deputy commissioner overseeing air, water and waste programs at the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, has “found equitable solutions to environmental challenges, relying on science, innovation, and partnerships,” according to the press release.
“New England’s annual Environmental Merit Awards are given to community leaders, scientists, government officials, business leaders, schools, and students who represent different approaches, but a common commitment to environmental protection,”Official press release
Throughout her 34 years at DEEP, Wingfield has helped to form Connecticut’s first cleanup regulations, led successful water protection initiatives, developed the state’s first State Water Plan and established a formal mentoring program for environmental leaders, the press release said.
Lewis, the executive director of the Connecticut Coalition for Environmental and Economic Justice, has worked with local communities and advocated for environmental justice.
According to the press release, Lewis led campaigns, one of which went against expanding a landfill. Lewis also worked with the state legislature in expanding climate and clean energy policies.
“[Lewis] helped advocates understand the history of racism exposing communities of color to environmental injustice,” the press release said. “In addition, [Lewis] launched a course…that brings together environmental justice leaders to develop environmental campaigns and expand organizing capacity.”
“EPA is proud to recognize and congratulate Connecticut awardees’ for their great accomplishments and their continued efforts towards combatting climate change, bringing cleaner air and water to neighborhoods, and ensuring our underserved communities’ voices are being heard,” said EPA’s New England Regional Administrator David W. Cash.
More information regarding the awardees’ contributions, as well as a video recording of the award ceremony, can be found on EPA’s website.