A Community Sentinel’s leadership continues: Melissa Troutman since 2019
There are many courageous and determined individuals to be grateful for within the environmental movement.
FracTracker’s annual Community Sentinel Awards for Environmental Stewardship recognizes and celebrates environmental activists from across the US who are fighting for justice to protect the places and communities they love.
One such individual is Melissa Troutman. She won the Community Sentinel Award in 2019, and delivered a rousing speech about the Rights of Nature at the ceremony that year.
Melissa is co-founder of the investigative news nonprofit Public Herald. Her work as a film director and journalist has redefined the landscape and narrative around fracking, and her community organizing has led to major wins against the industry.
And her hard work has continued!
Read below what she has been up to since winning the Sentinel Award, in her own words:
“My team at Public Herald Studios and I released the Rights of Nature film INVISIBLE HAND in September 2020 with Mark Ruffalo, at a virtual premiere with 300+ attendees from countries around the world.
Since then, we’ve hosted 40+ virtual screenings, including a Youth International Screening of the film, followed by an international online conference where we expanded upon the concepts of living in harmony with Nature with youth from Europe to Latin America.
During our international screening, the search term “rights of nature” reached its highest mark in Google ever.
We’re so proud to be a part of a movement that is catching on with lightning speed across the world—and not a moment too soon. Just this month, Ecuador’s highest court enforced the Rights of Nature in Los Cedros Forest Preserve, removing mining concessions granted to its own national mining company, EMANI. That’s right, Ecuador chose the Rights of Nature over its own economic self-interest. This is a historic, precedent-setting beacon for the rest of the world—also not a moment too soon!
Over at Public Herald news room, our team has produced an incredibly impactful series of investigations into TENORM—technologically enhanced naturally occurring radioactive material, which is prevalent in oil and gas waste. For the first time ever, we’ve identified (and mapped) all the landfills in PA accepting TENORM, the facilities receiving landfill leachate, and the waterways those facilities are discharging effluent to. As a result, Rep. Sara Innamorato was inspired to stop the practice, introducing a set of bills that close the radioactive and hazardous waste loopholes for oil and gas waste in the Commonwealth. We’ve directed the sources in our TENORM investigations to PA Attorney General Josh Shapiro, who is now investigating radioactive leachate coming from key landfills. Governor Wolf has also mandated leachate testing as a result of increased awareness of the TENORM threat across PA.”
Melissa’s tireless efforts are an inspiration to the environmental movement in Pennsylvania, across the country, and beyond.
Though the fossil fuel industry’s onslaught persists, hope is carried in the thousands of relentless activists working in their communities to document, report, and confront such fossil fuel harms.
Thank you, Melissa, and thank you to all the activists working around the nation and globe, to the benefit of us all.
Feature photo courtesy of Public Herald.
References & Where to Learn More
Learn more about Melissa’s work with Public Herald at https://publicherald.org/
Learn more about the Sentinel Awards program at https://www.fractracker.org/get-involved/sentinel-award/
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