A portion of the funds will be used to enhance sustainable operations at area hotels
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has awarded $962,275 to the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands’ (CNMI) Bureau of Environmental and Coastal Quality (BECQ) to strengthen its capacity to protect human health and the environment.
“BECQ has been a great partner in environmental protection,” said Alexis Strauss, EPA’s Acting Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “We are pleased to support their efforts to ensure a better environment for the residents of CNMI.”
The environmental protection work done by BECQ includes inspections, cleaning up formerly contaminated areas for productive use, monitoring the safety of pesticide use, ensuring clean beaches and safe drinking water, coral reef protection, and targeted projects to clean up polluted streams.
BECQ used part of recent EPA funding to help the CNMI recover from Typhoon Soudelor, including debris management, household hazardous waste collection, and re-establishing safe drinking water. BECQ will use part of the current award to help hotels have “greener” operations such as energy efficient lighting and laundry services, with the goals of preventing pollution and reducing operating costs.
Other environmental priorities for the EPA funding include:
- Ensuring safe, reliable drinking water;
- Making coastal waters safe for fishing, swimming, and marine life;
- Protecting coral reefs and public health by monitoring beaches and water quality;
- Cleaning up Saipan’s watersheds by reducing pollution from outhouses, illegal on-site disposal systems, animal waste, and storm water runoff;
- Helping the hospitality industry to have “greener” operations;
- Conducting radon assessments at selected homes and institutional buildings;
- Eliminating the importation of illegal pesticides and use of unregistered foreign pesticides;
- Inspecting fuel storage tanks in order to prevent fuel leaks;
- Improving hazardous waste and clean air program management;
- Preparing for emergency response; and
- Improving the management and access of environmental data.
The EPA’s Pacific Southwest Region (Region 9) administers and enforces federal environmental laws in Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, the Pacific Islands and 148 tribal nations—home to 50 million people.