Robert E. Hughes
EPCAMR Executive Director
Mr. Hughes has been the Executive Director for the Eastern PA Coalition for Abandoned Mine Reclamation (EPCAMR) since 1997. Mr. Hughes has worked with numerous planning committee partners to coordinate and co-host 15 Annual State-wide Conference on Abandoned Mine Reclamation and Abandoned Mine Drainage Remediation (www.treatminewater.com). This effort started with an Anthracite Region Conference on AMD in 1996 to bring many partners together to address PA’s number one “non-point” source of pollution.
Mr. Hughes has spoken at several National Conferences on EPCAMR Projects and the organization’s ability to leverage funding, manual labor, financial resources, business and private interests, and to serve as a liaison and project coordinator between the myriad of State, Federal, and Local agencies to complete hundreds of AMD Remediation Projects. Mr. Hughes has a background in hydrogeology with Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Resource Management from The Pennsylvania State University, May 1995, with a technical area of water pollution control technologies, specifically in abandoned mine drainage and hydrogeology.
Most recently, in 2010 Mr. Hughes won two 40 under 40 Awards, from The Pennsylvania Environmental Council and the Times Leader respectively. He was recognized as a young environmental leader who is helping to protect and improve the Commonwealth’s environment and communities.
In March of 2009, Mr. Hughes became the youngest award recipient of the William W. Jeanes for Environmental Excellence Award for his commitment and dedication to abandoned mine reclamation and abandoned mine drainage (AMD) remediation in the Susquehanna River Basin. He is only one of six awardees to receive this prestigious award. William W. Jeanes, Sr. Awards are given by the Susquehanna River Basin Commission to honor individuals who make significant contributions to protect the water quality of the Susquehanna basin.
In October of 2007, Mr. Hughes was awarded the Pennsylvania Environmental Council’s NE Environmental Partners Environmental Partnership Award for his work outside of his full-time job for his commitment to serving his hometown of Avondale Hill, and the surrounding smaller Anthracite mining communities located in Plymouth Township, Luzerne County, PA. Mr. Hughes has served as the appointed volunteer Planning Commission Chair for the Plymouth Township Planning Commission since 2001, and has worked in partnership with numerous partners to conduct community cleanups, illegal dump site surveys, historic preservation projects, community garden projects, and coordinate RiverFestivals along the Susquehanna River over the last seven years to improve the quality of life within his hometown.
Also in 2007, Mr. Hughes and EPCAMR were also awarded the Ted G. Daniels Community Development Award and the Luzerne County Historical Society’s Annual Historic Preservation Award for his work on the Avondale Hill Industrial Art Preservation and Community Gardens Project, also located in his hometown.
In March of 2005, Mr. Hughes was chosen by the American Institute for Public Service and a local newspaper company (The Times-Leader), as the recipient of the Jefferson Award for Community Service for his work in cleaning up abandoned mine lands in his own community of Plymouth Township and his volunteer efforts to rally residents and area youth to participate in annual cleanup events in the Wyoming Valley, as a member of the Wyoming Valley Watershed Coalition.
In May of 2005, Mr. Hughes accepted the PAEP Karl Mason Award on behalf of the Eastern PA Coalition for Abandoned Mine Reclamation for his work in the region on abandoned mine reclamation, AMD treatment, environmental action projects, education and outreach to the communities in which he serves, and for his partnership and collaboration building with regional stakeholders and watershed groups through Northeastern PA.
Mr. Hughes and his co-worker, Michael Hewitt in 2003 has authored and created an AMD Activity/Coloring Book for elementary-aged school children, which allows area youth to understand PA’s local geology and water quality impacts due to abandoned mines located throughout Northeastern PA. The book is available for free distribution through EPCAMR’s website at www.orangewaternetwork.org
Finally, Mr. Hughes has the distinction of being born on June 23, 1972, a day in which Hurricane Agnes moved through the Lackawanna and Wyoming Valley that brought torrential downpours and floodwaters that eventually ended mining in the Northern Anthracite Coal Fields and flooded the mine workings of hundreds of mines. Mr. Hughes to this day seems to think that it is his “divine destiny” to clean up polluted mine water and help local communities impacted by abandoned mine lands in Northeastern PA or Mother Nature’s way of truly describing an environmental professional.