The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has awarded over $2.4 million to the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands’ Bureau of Coastal and Environmental Quality to strengthen its capacity to protect human health and the environment.
“We are pleased to support BECQ programs that are committed to achieving a better environment for all the residents of CNMI. We know BECQ will continue to do excellent work,” said EPA’s Pacific Southwest regional administrator John Busterud.
“The BECQ is implementing essential environmental programs to support health and environment in the CNMI,” said Chad McIntosh, assistant administrator for International and Tribal Affairs. “We are proud to provide needed resources to the BECQ for this important work.”
BECQ uses U.S. EPA funding to support air, water, and land inspections; monitor the safety of beaches and drinking water; clean up contaminated sites; inspect fuel storage tanks; protect coral reefs; and, respond to emergencies.
Other environmental priorities for the funds include:
-Ensuring access to potable drinking water for all CNMI residents and working to remove the need for boil-water notices.
-Improving watershed health, stream water quality, and coral reef health.
-Reducing potential environmental and public health harm from unsafe handling of hazardous waste.
-Providing technical assistance to farmers on proper pesticide application techniques and eliminating illegal importation and use of unregistered foreign pesticides.
-Enhancing shared accountability for environmental protection and cultural preservation through intergovernmental collaborations.
BECQ administrator Eli Cabrera said of the award, “We welcome the news of this grant award, which will fund our environmental protection programs and services for the new fiscal year. These programs and services benefit everyone in the CNMI, as we all benefit from our pristine environmental resources. We are grateful to U.S. EPA Region 9 and also to our community, whose participation in our programs and services is crucial for effective environmental management.”
U.S. EPA funding for BECQ has been instrumental in enabling CNMI to advance several environmental priorities. For example, BECQ is able to regularly monitor 84 recreational beaches for microbiological contamination and provide notices to the public of any related risk. As a result of EPA support, BECQ is also able to support the clean-up and redevelopment of former industrial land that may be contaminated, test schools and other buildings for radon contamination, and respond to disasters such as typhoons. (PR)