Manchester Councilwoman Appointed To EPA Committee

Manchester Township Councilwoman Michele Zolezi was recently appointed to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Local Government Advisory Committee. (File Photo)

  MANCHESTER – Councilwoman Michele Zolezi was recently appointed to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Local Government Advisory Committee.

  “I am extremely honored to have been appointed to the US Environmental Protection Agency – Region 2 Local Government Advisory Committee. I look forward to using my environmental, professional, and local government experience to help advise on environmental issues of concern to local governments and smaller communities,” Zolezi said. She is among 15 new appointees and seven returning members of the committee.

  She will help advise on environmental issues of concern to local governments and smaller communities, EPA Administrator Michael Regan said.

  Members were selected from a pool of more than 80 candidates. Selections for the one- and two-year terms were made in accordance with the LGAC charter to achieve balance and diversity in terms of geographic location, gender, ethnicity, and stakeholder perspective.

  “When I read the EPA announcement, I thought, this would be a perfect use of my environmental background and local government experience to add value and make a difference, not only to our local, county, and state level but across the nation. I want to make a difference. Environmental issues impact municipalities and townships across the nation,” Zolezi said.

  She served as Manchester Council Representative to the Township Planning Board, former Chairperson of the Manchester Township Planning Board for five years, Chair of the Master Plan Committee, and as a member of the Plan Endorsement Citizens Advisory Committee, Wildfire Safety Council, Open Space Committee, and Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst Regional Compatible Use Study.

  Her professional affiliations include: Environmental Quality & Energy Policy Committee, NJ Business & Industry Association, Advisory Council, Brownfield Coalition of the Northeast, Environmental Committee, New Jersey Builders Association, Environmental Committee, New Jersey Asphalt Paving Association, Legal/Legislative & Environmental Committee, Shore Builders Association of Central New Jersey, Inc., Legislative & Non-Profit Committee, Greater Toms River Chamber of Commerce, Society of Women Environmental Professionals, NJ & PA Chapters, Professional Women in Building of the Garden State, and Professional Women in Construction.

  “It can be concerning, overwhelming and sometimes frightening when local governments are faced with environmental issues that threaten human health such as environmental cleanups, lead in drinking water, emergent contaminants, and the like,” Zolezi said. “I have a working knowledge about what environmental issues are impacting New Jersey and would like to collaborate with other local government representatives for the betterment of our communities. Working with local and state regulatory agencies here in New Jersey, provides me insight to what support our communities are looking for from USEPA, for example funding and grants.

  “Manchester, like many towns in New Jersey has seen impacts to soil, surface water, and groundwater over the years. Surrounding townships like Toms River have large profile environmental cleanups such as Ciba-Geigy,” she added.

  “It is an asset to have representatives that are knowledgeable in this area. I have over 25 years of environmental experience in New Jersey. I have a background in environmental consulting, site remediation, solid waste, land use and regulatory compliance. I am an environmental division manager and environmental affairs executive,” Zolezi said.

  Regan said, “our partnerships with local governments are critical to EPA’s efforts to tackle the climate  crisis and ensure that investments from President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act reach the communities that need them most.”

  “The recommendations provided by the LGAC demonstrate the pride we take in prioritizing local voices, and I look forward to working with the new membership over the coming year,” he added.

  The LGAC has been focusing on making recommendations on the Climate Pollution Reduction Grants while other efforts included providing funding directly to local and tribal governments, prioritizing the decarbonization of buildings, supporting meaningful engagement with disadvantaged communities in climate planning, and coordinating IRA implementation across the federal family.

  Zolezi said she would like to liaise with Manchester’s Environmental Commission moving forward. “This appointment is the perfect catalyst into establishing that relationship. I am currently communicating with them and look to work together.”