On Wednesday, May 11, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) presented its annual Environmental Merit Awards for 2011 in a ceremony at Boston's Faneuil Hall.

Brownie Carson, executive director of Natural Resources Council of Maine (NRCM) for the past 27 years until his retirement earlier this year, was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Environmental Merit Award.

Carson has been at the center of significant environmental battles and initiatives to protect Maine's waters, air, forests, and wildlife for future generations. Under his guidance, NRCM has inspired and mobilized legions of Maine people to make their voices heard on issues, decisions about which will determine the future of the Maine they love.

Many of Maine's first-in-the-nation environmental laws are a result of NRCM's efforts, including the expansion of Maine's Bottle Bill to include non-carbonated and alcoholic beverages, and a law requiring electronics manufacturers, rather than taxpayers, to collect and safely recycle toxics-laden computer monitors and television sets. In 1999, a 10-year effort by a determined coalition that included the NRCM, culminated in removal of the Edwards Dam from the Kennebec River. In 1984, in his first major campaign after taking the helm at NRCM, Carson rallied Maine people to defeat the Big A dam that would have destroyed the West Branch of the Penobscot River.

More recently, when the Seattle-based Plum Creek Real Estate Investment Trust announced its plans for massive development of the Greenville-Moosehead Lake region, NRCM, under Carson's leadership, took a lead role in working to scale back the development plans.

Carson is a 1972 graduate of Bowdoin College and 1977 graduate of the University of Maine School of Law. During time away from Bowdoin in the late 1960s, he served as an infantry platoon commander in the Marine Corps in Vietnam. Before his move to NRCM, he worked at Pine Tree Legal Assistance, which provides legal services to low-income Maine families.