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EPA Award for Jim Lents

Clean Air Excellence Awards Recognize James Lents of UC Riverside

Former AQMD Head Earns Kudos from Environmental Protection Agency

(April 8, 2004)

James LentsEnlarge

James Lents

RIVERSIDE, Calif. ( -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency selected James Lents of UC Riverside to receive the Thomas W. Zosel Outstanding Individual Achievement Award, in recognition of his leadership in the field of air quality management.

Lents is director of the Blakely Center for Sustainable Suburban Development, a new center at UC Riverside that studies traffic, growth, air quality and other challenges of suburban growth. He was the only individual award winner at the EPA's fourth annual Clean Air Excellence Awards ceremony in Washington, D.C., held March 23. There were 12 groups or organizations also recognized.

"From states to start-ups, corporate giants to dedicated individuals, these award-winners have demonstrated innovative approaches to making our nation's air cleaner," said EPA Deputy Administrator Steve Johnson. "These are lessons and approaches that should be adapted and applied in communities all across the country."

Lents said he is trying to apply environmental principals across a wide spectrum of issues with his work as the head of the Blakely Center for Sustainable Suburban Development.

“I feel lucky that I had a chance to start my work with the first major Clean Air Act amendments, and I’m proud to be part of that process. I still think we have a lot of progress yet to be made,” he said. “The work that we are doing here at the Center for Sustainable Suburban Development will provide the opportunity to start integrating air quality management with other programs, and that integration is the next step. You can’t solve air quality problems in isolation from other critical societal issues.”

Lents has 27 years of experience directing air quality improvement and research programs nationwide. He is widely acknowledged as a leader in national and international air quality arenas, and has been responsible for numerous technical and policy breakthroughs in the air quality field. Over the course of his career, Dr. Lents has served as the Executive Director of the South Coast Air Quality Management District, and the Director of the Colorado air pollution control program and the Chattanooga, Tennessee air pollution control program. He also helped to develop the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 and the 1988 California Clean Act and served on four Presidential Commissions reviewing diesel standards, alternative fuels, automobile global warming emissions, and air quality standards. He served as the director of the Atmospheric Processes, Modeling, and Environmental Policy Laboratory for the University of California Center for Environmental Research and Technology.

The Edward J. Blakely Center for Sustainable Suburban Development was established at UC Riverside to provide research and analysis with a policy focus on the issues confronted by the suburbs: growth, air quality, planning and the interface between development and wild lands.

The University of California, Riverside ( is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

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