DEQ ombudsman receives award for work with small businesses

Author: Laura J. Leonard

Tony Pendola, who serves as the Department of Environmental Quality’s Small Business ombudsman, has worked for the department for more than 20 years, receiving accolades for his commitment to protecting North Carolina’s natural resources while assisting small businesses meet environmental regulations. In 2014, he was on a team that won the Governor’s Award for saving North Carolina Citizens tens of millions of dollars each year on unnecessary special summertime gasoline blends.

Once again, his efforts have not gone unnoticed. Last week, the national network of Small Business Environmental Assistance Programs recognized Pendola as the 2018 winner of the Karen V. Brown Leadership Award for his work to promote small business compliance, assistance, sustainability, advocacy and collaboration.

“I am honored to receive this award for work that I feel very passionate about and enjoy doing,” said Pendola, a professional engineer and graduate from North Carolina State University. “Small businesses are vital to North Carolina. Providing assistance so they can meet environmental regulations not only helps protect the environment but also supports the state’s growing economy.”

More specifically, Pendola was honored for providing technical expertise to small businesses on a variety of environmental requirements and building strong partnerships between small businesses and environmental assistance programs.

As the department’s small business ombudsman, Pendola is dedicated to helping small businesses comply with state and federal air quality regulations. He provides free, confidential technical advice and advocacy. Typical air quality technical assistance includes permit applicability determinations, permit applications or modifications and air emission reporting. Pendola is an advocate for small businesses in the regulatory development, implementation and enforcement arenas. He often assists small businesses – referred to him by the Division of Air Quality – that are not in compliance and need help returning to compliance.

In this capacity, Pendola has played a significant role on the Division of Air Quality’s exemptions team in expanding the exemptions such that 90 percent of small air permit holders – some 1,100 facilities with combined emissions of only 0.6 percent of the state’s total – were eligible for exemption. He has also has had a significant role in assisting the Environmental Protection Agency in its development of videos about rules affecting small businesses.

“Tony Pendola’s dedication reflects the department’s overall commitment to the health and prosperity of North Carolina, its people and businesses,” said DEQ Secretary Michael S. Regan. “His enthusiasm for what he does leaves a lasting impact on our state. He provides technical assistance to small businesses across the state to help them maintain compliance and keep our natural resources pristine for future generations.”

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