PRESS RELEASE

EPA, US ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS, AND USFWS WIN PEER’S 2003 ENVIRONMENTAL RESPONSIBILITY AWARD

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Robert Varney, Regional Administrator Environmental Protection Agency, Region 1
One Congress Street
Suite 1100
Boston, MA 02114-2023

Colonel Thomas Koning
District Engineer, New England District
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
696 Virginia Road
Concord, MA 01742-2751

Michael Bartlett
New England Field Supervisor
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
New England Field Office
70 Commercial Street, Suite 300
Concord, NH 03301-5087

Dear Administrator Varney, Colonel Koning, and Supervisor Bartlett,

New England Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) is pleased to announce that you have been awarded PEER’s “2003 Environmental Responsibility Award” for your strong and unwavering stance on the proposed Route 11 project in Connecticut. We believe that this project would be the single greatest threat to wetlands in New England in generations.

We are delighted to note that both the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) have steadfastly demanded comprehensive inventories of flora and fauna to be performed throughout the Route 11 corridor. It is our belief that the proposal significantly underestimates the extent and severity of direct, indirect and secondary adverse impacts to aquatic Moreover, we commend EPA and FWS for their position that there are less environmentally damaging alternatives to the proposed project.

PEER further commends the Corps on its stance that the mitigation plan is “substantially inadequate, and that additional analysis of project effects on aquatic resources will be required to continue discussions on the mitigation plan.”

As you are all aware, the proposed Route 11 project would have significant and irreversible impacts to the aquatic ecosystem of Connecticut. Moreover, the project appears to be fiscally irresponsible: the current project cost of approximately $500 million for 9 miles of highway is unconscionable given the current fiscal climates in Connecticut and in Washington DC.

PEER is a non-profit organization whose mission is support local, state and federal government employees who enforce environmental laws, maintain scientific integrity, and uphold professional ethics in the workplace. As a former EPA Region I Wetlands Enforcement Coordinator, I personally understand and appreciate the politics involved in a major transportation project like this. Given the severity of impacts associated with the proposed Route 11 project, and the clear non-compliance with Section 404 of the Clean Water Act, PEER believes that your positions are well supported in both science and law.

Please accept our congratulations for the attached award, and our heartfelt thanks for your perseverance. Note that you will be featured in PEER’s upcoming newsletter, PEEReview, in our “PEER Perspective – Thumbs Up!” which has a national distribution to over 10,000 individuals and groups.

Sincerely,

Kyla Bennett, Director
New England PEER