Sep 12, 2016

U.S. EPA Awards $2.4 Million to Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands

Support enables Bureau of Environmental & Coastal Quality’s environmental programs

commonwealth, norther mariana islands, environmental, beaches, health, projects

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently awarded $2.4 million to the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands’ (CNMI) Bureau of Environmental and Coastal Quality (BECQ) for its environmental programs to protect human health and the environment.

“EPA’s support enables CNMI to advance its environmental programs,” said Alexis Strauss, acting EPA regional administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “These investments directly benefit the residents of CNMI and CNMI’s precious island resources.”

The work done by BECQ includes environmental inspections; projects to clean up formerly contaminated areas for productive use; oversight of the safety of pesticide use; programs to ensure clean beaches and safe drinking water; coral reef protection from runoff and sedimentation; and targeted projects to clean up polluted streams.

Environmental priorities for 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 and implementing recently updated Water Quality Standards;
  • Cleaning Saipan’s watersheds by reducing pollution sources such as outhouses, illegal on-site disposal systems, piggeries, urban runoff and livestock grazing wastes;
  • Conducting assessments at selected homes and institutional buildings to test for radon, a naturally occurring, radioactive gas that is the number one cause of lung cancer among non-smokers;
  • Implementing a Conservation Action Plan to reduce and mitigate storm water runoff for the Garapan area;
  • Eliminating the illegal importation of pesticides and use of unregistered/foreign pesticides;
  • Inspecting fuel storage tanks in order to prevent fuel leaks;
  • Pollution prevention, emergency response, hazardous waste and clean air program management; and
  • Improving the automation, standardization and access of environmental data.

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.