Notable upcoming events and other announcements

Environmental Justice February Film Series

Watch and discuss

three Environmental Justice films

presented by FracTracker Alliance

Three soul-stirring films.

Dozens of communities separated by space, but connected in their struggles, from the hollers of West Virginia, to the industrial sacrifice zones of Philadelphia, to the Canadian plains, to the heart of the Amazonian jungle.

Immerse yourself in tales of resistance, resilience, and unity, as powerful characters fight for their right to thrive.

Then, digest the epic stories, discuss with other viewers, and connect with the inspiring individuals you’ve seen on screen directly in live Q&A sessions. 

We’ll provide discussion prompts and additional resources that you can use to type your thoughts in the discussion group,* or use with your friends and family Or, sit back and relax as you follow what others have to say.

Registration is offered on a sliding scale – meaning you pay what you want. You can even select the free option if you’d like.

*group details will be sent to you after registration



Browse the Films

On the Fenceline: A Fight for Clean Air

Watch the film on your own time, then attend the Live Q&A
Thursday, February 25th, 7pm




On the Fenceline: A Fight for Clean Air is a portrait of a resilient community and an urgent call for justice. After living on the fenceline of the east coast’s largest oil refinery and suffering from cancer, asthma, and COPD, residents have come together to fight for their right to breathe.

We follow Carol White and Sonya Sanders as they introduce us to the health problems created by the 150-year-old oil refinery in South Philadelphia. They are a part of an organization called Philly Thrive that is fighting to expose the health issues plaguing the community due to years of toxic air pollution. An explosion in June of 2019 caused the refinery to file for bankruptcy. With the refinery shut down, Philly Thrive rallies together to protest against the reopening of the site as an oil refinery.

Your optional donations will benefit FracTracker Alliance, On the Fenceline, and Philly Thrive in their efforts to promote environmental justice in fenceline and frontline communities, and protect their right to breathe.

Watch the film on your own time, then attend the Live Q&A

Thursday, February 25th, 7pm ET

After reserving your ticket, you will receive a link to watch the film any time between February 15th – February 27th. You will also receive an invitation to the live Q&A session on February 25th at 7pm ET, featuring:

Rodney Ray – film protagonist; Philly Thrive activist. Rodney is a community leader and a life-long resident of Grays Ferry, Philadelphia. He was formerly employed as a foreman at the Philadelphia Energy Solutions gasoline refinery.

Kristen Harrison, Cinematographer / Editor. Kristen can be found with a camera in her hand at most hours of the day. She is the former photo editor with The Ithacan and former photo intern at The Morning Call. Previous film works include “At the Table,” a short documentary on the life of Father Divine and the work of the International Peace Mission Movement.

Alisha Tamarchenko, Cinematographer / Editor. Through her work, Alisha explores the dynamics of change through stories of people confronting and shifting unsustainable ways of living. She has produced and directed three other short documentaries. “Bruce & Daryl” follows the relationship of an older gay couple as they navigate aging and loss. “Beyond the Waiting Room” tackles the mental health challenges of the veterinary profession. “eCoexist” documents the work of a sustainability organization in Pune, India. Her work has screened in Ithaca, Dallas, Alaska and the UK.

HARD ROAD OF HOPE

We’re extending the availability of Hard Road of Hope to the end of February!

Donate to access the film and the Live Q&A that took place on Thursday, February 11th, 7pm

All proceeds go to Environmental Justice initiatives led by the filmmakers and FracTracker.




This documentary from Act Out’s Eleanor Goldfield takes you into the often forgotten hills and hollers of West Virginia, where a radical past inspires a resilient present and builds towards a better future. More than a microcosm of capitalist oppression and corruption, West Virginia stands as an example of radical resolve – in the face of dying King Coal and rising King Fracking.

“Hard Road of Hope” amplifies the voices of these forgotten and proud rednecks – the ones carrying the torch from the first rednecks who tied on red bandanas and marched for their basic human rights. It seeks to hold a mirror up to all sacrifice zones, to the isolated folks in pain across the nation. This is an American story, an American history – and for the future of all the people who call this place home, this is the path we must all walk if we want to thrive, and indeed, survive.

It’s a Hard Road of Hope, a pot-holed, precarious and puddled path past the Kings of coal and gas, but they keep walking. We would do well to walk with them for a while – and listen.

Your optional donations will benefit FracTracker Alliance, Hard Road of Hope, and Keeper of the Mountains, an organization that educates and inspires people to work for healthier, more sustainable communities and an end to dependency on fossil fuels, mountaintop removal, and other forms of extraction.

We’re extending the availability of Hard Road of Hope until the end of February! Donate to access the film any time and the recorded the Q&A discussion.

The discussion took place on February 11th, moderated by Ted Auch, Great Lakes Coordinator, FracTracker Alliance, with panelists:


Eleanor Goldfield is a creative creative radical, journalist and filmmaker.

Her work focuses on radical and censored issues via photo, video and written journalism, as well as artistic mediums including music, poetry and visual art. She is the host of the podcast, Act Out, co-host of the podcast Common Censored along with Lee Camp, and co-host of the podcast Silver Threads along with carla bergman. 

Her award-winning documentary film, “Hard Road Of Hope” is about West Virginia as both resource colony and radical inspiration.

She also assists in frontline action organizing and trainings.

 


Paul Corbit Brown, president of Keepers of the Mountain​. Paul has dedicated most of his life to environmental and human rights photography. To date, Paul gives Kayford Tours, travels to educate others about the adverse effects of Mountain Top Removal, and speaks internationally at shareholders meetings on the importance of divestment.

Four Indigenous leaders embark on an extraordinary trans-continental adventure from the Canadian Boreal forests to deep into the heart of the Amazonian jungle to unite the peoples of North and South America and deepen the meaning of “Climate Justice.” 

The Condor & The Eagle documentary offers a glimpse into a developing spiritual renaissance as the film four protagonists learn from each other’s long legacy of resistance to colonialism and its extractive economy. Their path through the jungle takes them on an unexpectedly challenging and liberating journey, which will forever change their attachment to the Earth and one another.

The donations collected will support FracTracker Alliance and the film impact campaign “No More Sacrificed Communities” and be used to keep supporting the incredibly important work of our film protagonists. Please give generously according to your financial situation.

Screening and Discussion

Thursday, February 18th, 7pm

Come together virtually to watch the award-winning documentary, “The Condor & The Eagle” and follow-up discussion featuring protagonists from the film:

Patricia Gualinga. Patricia has played an important role in the fight for indigenous rights. Gualinga is a spokeswoman for many environmental projects. Gualinga works to protect the Kichwa People of Sarayaku community from human rights violations resulting from oil extraction projects by Chinese companies on their land. She is a spokesperson for the indigenous-led proposal ‘Kawsak Sacha’, or ‘Living Forest’, that calls for legal protection of the Ecuadorian Amazon.

Casey Camp-Horinek. Because of Casey’s work the Ponca Nation is the first Tribe in the State of Oklahoma to adopt the Rights of Nature Statute, and to pass a moratorium on Fracking on Tribal Lands. Casey was also instrumental in the drafting, and adoption of the first ever International Indigenous Women’s Treaty protecting the Rights of Nature.
Melina Laboucan-Massimo. Cree from Northern Alberta, Co-Founder of Indigenous Climate Action where she is the Program Director, and Founder of Sacred Earth Solar. She is the host of TV series Power to the People. Facing firsthand impacts of the Alberta tar sands in her traditional territory, Melina has been a vocal advocate for Indigenous rights. For over a decade, Melina worked as a Climate and Energy Campaigner with Greenpeace Canada and the Indigenous Environmental Network internationally.

Yudith Azareth Nieto, Film Protagonist – Yudith is a queer Mexican-American artist, interpreter, and organizer, enjoying spending time in the bayous of Louisiana working on projects like CRY YOU ONE, Amor y Solidaridad, a solidarity house in support of undocumented Transwomen, and recently BanchaLenguas, a Language Justice interpreters collective. Currently, she is part of the core leadership circle for Another Gulf Is Possible and a youth organizer with Los Jardines Institute. For over five years, Yudith has been fighting for the rights of her fenceline community in Manchester, Houston in collaboration with T.E.J.A.S and was named one of Grist.org 50 Fixers of 2018.

Bryan Parras. Film Protagonist – Xicano Houston, TX – Healthy Communities Organizer with Sierra Club and Co-Founder of t.e.j.a.s. He is a longtime environmental justice advocate based in Houston, TX. He co-founded the Librotraficante movement, serves as an Advisor to the Gulf Coast Fund, and sits on the board of the Environmental Support Center. Bryan was recently awarded a Gulf Coast Fellowship and has been working to help organizations use media for education, organizing, and advocacy.

Here’s how to get the most out of the FracTracker EJ February film series:

  • Browse the films being offered and choose your own adventure.
  • Secure your tickets to one, two, or all three of the films by following the links under each film. You must secure the tickets for each film separately because they are hosted on different platforms.
  • Tickets are offered at a sliding scale – meaning you pay what you want. You can even select the free option if you’d like.
  • We’ll email you with the link to watch the film. Two of the films are available for you to watch on your own time before the live Q&A sessions. One of the films is a live screening followed by a panel featuring the film’s protagonists.
  • Join the discussion group to interact with other viewers. We’ll provide discussion prompts and additional resources to inspire and motivate you to make the most of what you’ve just experienced through the films. Group details will be sent out to you upon registration.
  • Attend the Q&A sessions and dialogue directly with the filmmakers and film protagonists. They’re eager to connect with you! Or feel free to just sit back and relax as you watch the live events.

Environmental Health Fellowship Opening – Summer 2021

This paid, remote fellowship will provide a graduate student with the opportunity to deepen their academic understanding of environmental issues affecting the heavily-fracked region of Southwestern Pennsylvania. The fellow will work in close collaboration with their FracTracker supervisor and their academic advisor.

This position was developed in partnership with the Community Foundation for the Alleghenies and The Heinz Endowments.

 

Fellowship Details

Title: FracTracker Alliance Environmental Health Fellow
Eligibility: Current graduate students
Fellowship Period: 12 weeks (6/7/21 – 8/27/21)
Application Deadline:  April 2nd, 2020
Compensation: $15/hour, 37.5 hours per week
Location: Remote, reporting to the Pittsburgh FracTracker office

Fellowship Description

This paid, remote fellowship will provide a graduate student with the opportunity to deepen their academic understanding of environmental issues affecting the heavily-fracked region around Southwestern Pennsylvania. The fellow will work in close collaboration with their FracTracker supervisor and their academic advisor.

FracTracker Alliance is a national, Pennsylvania-based environmental nonprofit organization that provides visual and technical tools to protect communities from the impacts of unconventional oil and gas development. FracTracker is a premier resource on unconventional oil and gas issues in the United States, and has appeared in the New York Times, Rolling Stone, the LA Times, The Guardian, USA Today, and more. The organization has received over 1.25 million visitors on www.fractracker.org, where FracTracker staff regularly contribute maps and articles on pressing unconventional oil and gas issues.  

Fellows will perform research and geo-spatial data collection, processing, and analysis with a focus on environmental health issues associated with oil, gas, and petrochemical development. Specific projects and research interests will be identified by the fellow in consultation with FracTracker staff and the fellow’s graduate program advisor. While multiple projects might be undertaken, a signature capstone project and blog post on the FracTracker website will be the primary foci of the experience. The fellow will also have the opportunity to present their work to various audiences in the format of their choice.

This position is not eligible for health benefits, but approved travel expenses for relevant research, meetings, and fieldwork will be reimbursed. This remote position reports to the Pittsburgh FracTracker office. Depending on the state of the COVID-19 pandemic, it may be possible to conduct some meetings in person.

This position was developed in partnership with the Community Foundation for the Alleghenies and The Heinz Endowments with the goal to bring high quality environmental and public health students to the region; to strengthen the region’s public health capacity to address issues impacting environmental, health, equity and sustainability outcomes; and to provide highly meaningful experience for students with strong academic backgrounds and in consultation with academic advisement.

Apply today to:

  • Conduct independent study relevant to your coursework
  • Deepen your understanding of environmental health issues and solutions
  • Learn and Apply GIS skills
  • Obtain valuable resume-building experience
  • Make new connections in the field of environmental health through participation in a cohort of Environmental Health Fellows from partnering organizations

This position is not eligible for health benefits, but approved travel expenses for relevant research, meetings, and fieldwork will be reimbursed. This position reports to the Pittsburgh FracTracker office. Depending on the state of the COVID-19 pandemic, fellows will likely work 100% remotely.

Responsibilities

The responsibilities of the fellow will revolve around their capstone project. They may also be asked to assist with daily work and time sensitive projects of the organization. Responsibilities will vary, but may include:

  • Spatial analyses and mapping using GIS software
  • Data mining, cleaning, and management
  • Field research (e.g. mobile app documentation, interviews, air or water monitoring, etc.)
  • Meetings with staff, partners, and/or experts
  • Written contributions to the FracTracker blog at www.fractracker.org
  • Translation of data into information and stories for the blog
  • Developing educational outreach materials

Qualifications

This fellowship is dedicated to current graduate students only. The candidate should possess the following qualifications:

  • Interest in protecting public health from risks associated with unconventional oil and gas and/or petrochemical development
  • Working knowledge of geographic information systems (GIS) and Microsoft Office products (especially Word and Excel)
  • Ability to assist with researching spatial data availability from internal and external sources; collect, assimilate, analyze, and interpret data and draw sound conclusions; prepare oral and written reports
  • Attention to detail
  • Excellent written and oral English communication and research skills
  • Ability to tackle challenging problems with minimal guidance
  • Experience presenting data and information in creative, visually compelling ways is a plus

Completed studies in environmental or public health, environmental science, environmental policy or environmental law, environmental engineering, chemistry, biology, economics, marketing, or nonprofit management are desired, but not mandatory.

To Apply 

To apply, please fill out the form below. The application deadline is Friday, April 2nd, 2021 at 5pm. 

Selected candidates will be contacted for an interview with FracTracker staff members. First-round interviews will take place between April 12th – April 23rd.

Once the fellow has been selected, all first-round candidates will be notified regarding the result of their application by April 30th.

Second-round interviews will take place between May 3rd – May 7th, with the final candidate being selected by May 10th at the latest. All first-round candidates will be notified regarding the result of their application at that time.

If you have questions, please don’t hesitate to contact Shannon Smith at smith@fractracker.org.

FracTracker is an equal opportunity employer. We are committed to providing equal employment opportunities without regard to race, creed, color, religion, national origin, sex, marital status, citizenship status, age, veteran status, or disability.

This form is currently closed for submissions.

Want to learn more about FracTracker’s internship, fellowship, and visiting scholars programs? Click here.

Brook Lenker, Matthew Kelso, and intern Gianna Calisto counting oil trains as they passed through Pittsburgh, PA

Brook Lenker, Matt Kelso, and intern Gianna Calisto counting oil trains as they passed through Pittsburgh, PA

2020 Community Sentinel Awards Recap

The 2020 Community Sentinel Awards include Edith Abeyta, Yvette Arellano, Theresa Landrum, and BJ McManama.

Community Sentinel Award for Environmental Stewardship



About the Award

The Community Sentinel Award for Environmental Stewardship honors those who address the root causes of environmental injustice in the United States, with a strong focus on racial justice in the face of oil, gas, and petrochemical activity. The award recognizes the leadership of those standing up for their communities to protect the places they love. 

For too long, the oil and gas industry has wreaked havoc on our landscapes and farms with millions of miles of dangerous pipelines, invaded neighborhoods with fracked wells, choked towns with noxious petrochemical emissions, littered streams littered with throwaway plastics, and accelerated the climate crises. But hope abounds in the thousands of volunteers working in their communities and cherished places to document, report, and confront such fossil fuel harms.

To honor these environmental heroes, FracTracker Alliance created the annual Community Sentinel Award for Environmental Stewardship, now in its seventh year, to celebrate individuals whose noble actions exemplify the transformative power of caring, committed, and engaged people. In collaboration with a supportive lineup of sponsors and partners, the award is presented to multiple recipients at a festive reception before a group of fellow activists and others who champion a healthy, sustainable future. Each awardee will also receive $1,000 in recognition of their efforts.

Additionally, each year during the Community Sentinel Award ceremony, we take a moment to honor environmental heroes who passed away in the previous year with the Legacy of Heroes recognition.





Nominations close Friday, October 29th!




Questions about the Community Sentinel Award for Environmental Stewardship or becoming a partner/sponsor?

Previous Sentinel Award Winners

2015
Dory Hippauf – Dallas, PA
Craig Stevens – Herndon, VA
Therese Vick – Raleigh, NC

2016
Alma Hasse – Fruitland, ID
Alex Lotorto – Milford, PA
Vera Scroggins – Brackney, PA

2017
Ranjana Bhandari – Arlington, TX
Frank Finan – Hop Bottom, PA
Ray Kemble – Montrose, PA

2018
Ellen Gerhart – Pennsylvania
Natasha Léger – Colorado
Rebecca Roter – of Pennsylvania, now Georgia
Youth award: Nalleli Cobo – California

2019

Ron Gulla – Canonsburg, PA
Sharon Lavigne – St. James, LA
Allie Rosenbluth – Medford, OR
Melissa Troutman – Pittsburgh, PA

Legacy of Heroes recognition:

Bill Hughes – Wetzel County, WV
April Pierson-Keating – Buckhannon, WV
Ricky Allen Roles – Silt, CO
John Trallo Sr. – Sonestown, PA

LEARN MORE ABOUT PREVIOUS SENTINELS

2020 Community Sentinel Awards Recap

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The 2020 Community Sentinel Awards include Edith Abeyta, Yvette Arellano, Theresa Landrum, and BJ McManama.

A successful 2019 Community Sentinel Award Reception- a full summary

There are many courageous and determined individuals to be grateful…

Announcing the 2019 Sentinel Award Winners

Congratulations to the winners of this year's Community Sentinel…
2018 Community Sentinel Award Recipients and Reception

A Sincere Thank You, 2018 Community Sentinel Award Recipients

Reflecting back on the Community Sentinel award reception, held…
Community Sentinel Award for Environmental Stewardship

Four environmental stewards receive the 2018 Community Sentinel Award

WASHINGTON, DC – As oil and gas representatives descend on…
Community Sentinel Award for Environmental Stewardship

2018 Community Sentinel Award nominations now being accepted

The impacts of the oil and gas industry are visible across the…
Community Sentinel Awards 2017

Reflections from the 2017 Community Sentinel Award Program

The Community Sentinel Award for Environmental Stewardship, launched…
Community Sentinel Award for Environmental Stewardship

2017 Community Sentinel Award for Environmental Stewardship Recipients

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Award to be presented to three environmental stewards addressing…

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FracTracker in the Field: Building a Live Virtual Map

 

August 19, 2020 Update:

The virtual story map is live!


In this special one-day fundraiser event, two intrepid FracTracker teams will build and share a live virtual map as we travel throughout the Ohio River Valley Region documenting oil, gas, and its effects on our health, climate, and environment.

How many sites can we visit in one day? What will we find?

 

 

 

We’ll share our findings to build awareness about the plight of this region—and so many other places victimized by this rogue industry. Plus, viewers will gain a firsthand understanding of how FracTracker turns data into real-world impact.

Proceeds will benefit the ongoing work of FracTracker to decarbonize our economy and promote environmental justice.

 

Whether you are able to contribute financially at this time or not, we hope you’ll join us on this virtual journey. You’ll see regular video updates along the way as we share our progress, and watch as a story map is updated throughout the day.

Join our team of explorers in spirit and pledge your support! We’re excited to share this journey with you.

 

 

Testimony to PA DEP on Control of Methane & VOC Emissions from Oil and Natural Gas Sources

This testimony was provided by Shannon Smith, FracTracker Manager of Communications & Development, at the July 23rd hearing on the control of methane & VOC emissions from oil and natural gas sources hosted by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).

My name is Shannon Smith and I’m a resident of Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania. I am the Manager of Communications and Development at the nonprofit organization FracTracker Alliance. FracTracker studies and maps issues related to unconventional oil and gas development, and we have been a top source of information on these topics since 2010. Last year alone, FracTracker’s website received over 260,000 users. FracTracker, the project, was originally developed to investigate health concerns and data gaps surrounding Western Pennsylvania fracking.

I would like to address the proposed rule to reduce emissions of methane and other harmful air pollution, such as smog-forming volatile organic compounds, which I will refer to as VOCs, from existing oil and gas operations. I thank the DEP for the opportunity to address this important issue.

The proposed rule will protect Pennsylvanians from methane and harmful VOCs from oil and gas sources, but to a limited extent. The proposed rule does not adequately protect our air, climate, nor public health, because it includes loopholes that would leave over half of all potential cuts to methane and VOC pollution from the industry unchecked.

Emissions of the potent greenhouse gas methane and VOC pollution harm communities by contributing to the climate crisis, endangering households and workers through explosions and fires, and causing serious health impairments. Poor air quality also contributes to the economic drain of Pennsylvania’s communities due to increased health care costs, lower property values, a declining tax base, and difficulty in attracting and retaining businesses.

Oil and gas related air pollution has known human health impacts including impairment of the nervous system, reproductive and developmental problems, cancer, leukemia, depression, and genetic impacts like low birth weight.

One indirect impact especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, is the increased incidence and severity of respiratory viral infections in populations living in areas with poor air quality, as indicated by a number of studies.

Given the available data, FracTracker Alliance estimates that there are 106,224 oil and gas wells in Pennsylvania. Out of the 12,574 drilled unconventional wells, there have been 15,164 cited violations. Undoubtedly the number of violations would be higher with stricter monitoring.

There is a need for more stringent environmental regulations and enforcement, and efforts to do so should be applauded only if they adequately respond to the scientific evidence regarding risks to public health. These measures are only successful if there is long-term predictability that will ultimately drive investments in clean energy technologies. Emission rollbacks undermine decades of efforts to shift industries towards cleaner practices. So, I urge the DEP to close the loophole in the proposed rulemaking that exempts low-producing wells from the rule’s leak inspection requirements. Low-producing wells are responsible for more than half of the methane pollution from oil and gas sources in Pennsylvania, and all wells, regardless of production, require routine inspections.

I also ask that the Department eliminate the provision that allows operators to reduce the frequency of inspections based on the results of previous inspections. Research does not show that the quantity of leaking components from oil and gas sources indicates or predicts the frequency or quantity of future leaks.

In fact, large and uncontrolled leaks are random and can only be detected with frequent and regular inspections. Short-term peaks of air pollution due to oil and gas activities are common and can cause health impairments in a matter of minutes, especially in sensitive populations such as people with asthma, children, and the elderly. I urge the Department to close loopholes that would exempt certain wells from leak detection and repair requirements, and ensure that this proposal includes requirements for all emission sources covered in DEP’s already adopted standards for new oil and gas sources.

Furthermore, conventional operators should have to report their emissions, and the Department should require air monitoring technologies that have the capacity to detect peaks rather than simply averages. We need adequate data in order to properly enforce regulations and meet Pennsylvania’s climate goals of decreasing greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050.

Pine Creek compressor station FLIR camera footage by Earthworks (May 2019).

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FracTracker Alliance team

For A New Decade

In the summer of 2019, FracTracker began work on a bold strategic plan. With the organization’s last formal plan dating to 2013, the effort was long overdue.

Consultations, stakeholder surveys, and scans of issues and trends fed a rigorous, facilitated retreat. More conversations followed, accompanying iterative drafting, until a comprehensive and detailed plan emerged.

Meanwhile the world didn’t stop and wait. A pandemic wreaked havoc. The fossil fuel industry reeled. Demands for equality and justice reigned. The planning proceeded, mindful of these realities.

The strategic plan explores programs and projects; technology; communications; fundraising; safety and wellness; training and capacity; diversity, equity, and inclusion; administration and human resources; and, of course, monitoring and evaluation.

 

We identify four key programmatic goals:

  • Stop fossil fuel activities and infrastructure, including related petrochemical development
  • Increase public understanding of the detriment that fossil fuels and plastics cause people and the environment
  • Protect communities and ecosystems maltreated by fossil fuel and petrochemical operations
  • Strengthen and build civic engagement and alliances working toward cleaner, safer energy solutions

 

These goals, and a thorough enumeration of objectives and tasks, are guided by ten principles:

  1. Respond to the needs of frontline communities
  2. Elevate environmental justice perspectives and human rights
  3. Reveal solutions and success stories
  4. Engage younger audiences in these critical matters
  5. Involve more nontraditional partners
  6. Emphasize ease of use and access to information on our online tools
  7. Aspire for substantive and lasting change
  8. Communicate and coordinate for effective collaboration
  9. Promote and advocate for data transparency
  10. Ground findings in data and scientific evidence

 

Together, they reinforce the aspirations of our new mission statement:

 

FracTracker Alliance maps, analyzes, and communicates the risks of oil, gas, and petrochemical development to advance just energy alternatives that protect public health, natural resources, and the climate.

 

The plan underscores our imperative to partner with groups that seek solutions through regulatory, legal, and legislative action and have our work contribute to the urgent collective effort to equitably decarbonize economies. It is a roadmap, providing focus, but flexibility to remain nimble and responsive to ever-changing threats. We look forward to advancing the activities contained herein, measuring our progress, and most importantly, using our tools to expeditiously create a healthy energy paradigm. Please join us on this journey, and consider helping FracTracker to advance our work through your financial support.

By Brook Lenker, Executive Director, FracTracker Alliance

FracTracker Receives Cornell Douglas Pearl Award

The team at FracTracker Alliance is honored and humbled to accept the 2020 Jean and Leslie Douglas Pearl Award from the Cornell Douglas Foundation. This award reflects the Foundation’s mission to provide support to organizations like FracTracker that advocate for environmental health, justice, and sustainability.

We accept this award alongside two illustrious organizations: the Center for Rural Enterprise and Environmental Justice (CREEJ), which seeks to address the root causes of poverty by seeking sustainable solutions, and Earthworks, which is dedicated to protecting communities and the environment from the adverse impacts of mineral and energy development while promoting sustainable solutions.

Since 2013, the award has recognized the work of other esteemed individuals and groups such as Marc Edwards of the Flint Water Study Team; Raina Ripple, who is a founder of the Southwest Pennsylvania Environmental Health Project; SkyTruth; and many more.

About the Award

“The Jean and Leslie Douglas Pearl Award is given to organizations and to individuals who are dedicated to improving the lives of others and to providing a sustainable earth for future generations. Despite challenges which often confront the recipients, they are committed to act as catalysts for positive change, and determined to promote the rights of individuals to live in a world with clean water, air, and sustainable land. The Cornell Douglas Foundation applauds their unique vision, tenacity, and extraordinary accomplishments.”

A pearl is a piece of sand that gets embedded on the inside shell of a mollusk. It creates a blister. The animal has to process this intrusion by secreting enzymes, and over time, the grain of sand becomes a pearl. Distinct from metamorphosis, where a butterfly emerges from a cocoon suddenly and magically, the pearl is conceived first in pain, laboriously worked on, and results unexpectedly in a jewel.
-Jeanne Chiang

We are grateful for the recognition of our hard work over the years. It is truly a labor of love, for the earth and those who reside on it. Looking forward, we are reinvigorated to work alongside our partners and fellow environmental stewards in the fight for a more sustainable energy landscape, economy, and future. In all we do, FracTracker believes that the actions of informed citizens have the power to shape a better world.

The FracTracker team extends our deepest gratitude to the Cornell Douglas Foundation for this valuable support to our organization’s work. May our work continue to reflect the honorable intentions of the Jean and Leslie Douglas Pearl Award.

A successful 2019 Community Sentinel Award Reception- a full summary

There are many courageous and determined individuals to be grateful for within the environmental movement. At the 2019 Community Sentinel Awards for Environmental Stewardship, we were graced with the presence of many such leaders, and celebrated four in particular as this year’s award winners. From those fighting LNG export terminals on the West Coast, to those resisting fracking expansion in the Marcellus Shale and other formations, to those shutting down petrochemical expansion in the Gulf Coast – thank you, Sentinels.

 

2019 Community Sentinel Award Reception

The Program on October 22nd

The 2019 reception and ceremony coincided with the oil and gas industry’s three-day Shale Insight Conference. The fighters and victims of dirty energy and petrochemical development were recognized as we opposed the nearby perpetrators of these harms. The event featured the keynote speaker Andrey Rudomakha, Director of Environmental Watch on North Caucasus, and inspirational emcee David Braun of Rootskeeper.

You can watch the full 2019 Awards Reception here:

 

More About the Awardees

  • Ron Gulla
    Mr. Ron Gulla has been a pivotal voice in fighting unconventional oil and gas development in Pennsylvania and beyond. After natural gas development destroyed his property in Canonsburg, PA in 2005, Mr. Gulla became an outspoken advocate for citizens and landowners facing the many harms of fracking.

    Mr. Gulla knows the industry well, having worked as an equipment supplier for various oil and gas operations. Like so many, he believed the industry crusade that touted energy independence and its promise of becoming a “shalionaire.”

    Four unconventional gas wells were installed on Mr. Gulla’s property from 2005 to 2008. As a result, his water source and soil were contaminated, as well as a nearby stream and pond. He immediately began speaking out about his experiences and warning people of the potential dangers of fracking. Soon, people from all over the state were reaching out to him to share their stories.

    Mr. Gulla became a central figure in informing and connecting people who were desperately looking for help. He has documented individuals’ stories for health studies and appropriate regulatory agencies, testified in front of the PA Department of Health and other official bodies, and he was instrumental in organizing letter campaigns with other affected landowners addressed to local district attorneys. These efforts resulted in a statewide investigation into many of these cases. He also has coordinated with local, state, and national news agencies to expose these critical issues.

    Mr. Gulla proactively engaged the media and brought like-minded people together to tell their stories. Without his relentless efforts, much of the progress made in exposing the oil and gas industry in Pennsylvania would not have been possible.

  • Sharon Lavigne

    Ms. Sharon Lavigne lives in the epicenter of the oil, gas, and petrochemical facilities in Louisiana. She is the founder of RISE St. James, a faith-based environmental and social justice organization dedicated to protecting St. James Parish from these toxic, cancer- causing industries. Her work is a matter of life or death — the 20 acres of land that Ms. Lavigne inherited from her grandfather is dead center of what is known today as “Cancer Alley.”

    The 4th and 5th Districts of St. James Parish are majority Black neighborhoods, and they were the only districts to be covertly rezoned from residential to “residential/future industrial.” The environmental racism could not be more pronounced. Ms. Lavigne is fighting to protect the health of all residents living along the 85-mile long Cancer Alley, from those in New Orleans to those in Baton Rouge. Industry and elected officials are intent on wiping historic Black communities off the map, but with Ms. Lavigne’s leadership, residents are rising up to protect their health, their home, and their future.

    At the heart of Ms. Lavigne’s work with RISE St. James is the demand for a moratorium on oil, gas, and petrochemical industry in St. James Parish. The district where Sharon lives has 2,822 people and 12 petrochemical plants — one plant for every 235 residents. Despite these staggering ratios, Formosa Plastics is trying to build a 14-plant petrochemical complex less than two miles from Ms. Lavigne’s home.

    After working tirelessly over the last year to educate and mobilize other residents, Ms. Lavigne and RISE St. James members recently celebrated their biggest victory yet: blocking a $1.5B Wanhua petrochemical plant from moving into St. James Parish and operating within a mile of residents’ homes. In Ms. Lavigne’s words, “This is our land, this is our home, and we are standing up together to defend it. St. James is rising.”

  • Allie Rosenbluth

    Ms. Allie Rosenbluth is a dedicated community activist who has spent years coordinating a huge grassroots rural coalition opposing Pembina’s proposed Jordan Cove LNG export terminal and Pacific Connector fracked gas pipeline in southern Oregon. She also recently traveled to Poland as a COP 24 delegate with SustainUS, a youth-led justice and sustainability advocacy group.

    For over a decade, the Jordan Cove LNG project has been threatening southern Oregonians with the prospect of a 36-inch pipeline stretching across four rural counties, 229 miles, and over 180 state waterways, ending in a massive methane liquefaction and export terminal in Coos Bay. Ms. Rosenbluth has worked incredibly hard to ensure that all those opposed to the project gets a chance to speak with their elected representatives about the project and make their voice heard in local, state, and federal permitting processes. She has coordinated efforts to generate tens of thousands of comments in state and federal agency comment periods to review the various environmental impacts of the project. This turnout has surpassed public participation records in such permitting processes.

    Ms. Rosenbluth’s efforts helped lead to a May 2019 denial from the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality on a Clean Water Act permit needed to build the project, underlining the importance of state authority to defend water quality under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act, which the Trump Administration was simultaneously trying to weaken. She also helped mobilize over 3,000 rural Oregonians to attend four public hearings on the State Lands review of the project. Ms. Rosenbluth’s masterful coalition-building has helped unify people of all political persuasions, races, and ethnicities across the state to unify their opposition to fracked gas infrastructure in Oregon.

  • Melissa Troutman
    Ms. Melissa Troutman is co-founder of the investigative news nonprofit Public Herald as well as a research and policy analyst for Earthworks. Her work as a film director and journalist has redefined the landscape and narrative around fracking w, and her community organizing has led to major wins against the industry.

    Ms. Troutman’s Public Herald publications have seen widespread coverage. Her work has been referenced in the books Amity and Prosperity: One Family and the Fracturing of America by Eliza Griswald; Legal Rights for Rivers: Competition, Collaboration and Water Governance by Erin O’Donnell; and Sustainability and the Rights of Nature: An Introduction by Cameron La Follette and Chris Maser. Her work has been cited in over 20 academic studies to date. Furthermore, Ms. Troutman has produced three award-winning documentary films on fracking: Triple Divide (2013), TRIPLE DIVIDE [REDACTED] (2017), and INVISIBLE HAND (2019). Her films continue to play an important role in the narrative surrounding fracking and democracy.

    In 2017, Ms. Troutman uncovered that 9,442 complaints related to oil and gas operations were never made public by the state. Her analysis of drinking water complaints revealed official misconduct by state officials that left families without clean water for months, even years. Consequently, Public Herald called for a criminal and civil investigation of the Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection. In 2018, Ms. Troutman’s reporting on an untested fracking wastewater treatment facility at the headwaters of the Allegheny River was used by the Seneca Nation of Indians to shut down the project.

    Ms. Troutman’s tireless efforts are an inspiration to the environmental movement in Pennsylvania, across the country, and beyond.

Check out the Community Sentinels in action | Reception slideshow

Legacy of Heroes Recognition

  • Bill Hughes

    On March 25, 2019, Bill Hughes of Wetzel County, West Virginia, passed away at age 74. Mr. Hughes, an environmental defender extraordinaire and former FracTracker colleague, served on the County solid waste authority, where he consistently pushed back on accepting the radioactive waste of the fracking industry. For nearly a decade, Mr. Hughes documented and disseminated photographic evidence of the activities and effects of shale gas development, and in turn educated thousands of people on the negative impacts of this industry. Mr. Hughes also shared information via gas field tours, PowerPoint presentations to groups in five states, op-ed pieces written for news media, and countless responses to questions and inquiries.

    His legacy lives through the multitude of lives he enriched – from students, to activists, to everyday people. Bill was an omnipresent force for good, always armed with facts and a pervasive smile.

  • April Pierson-Keating

    April Pierson-Keating of Buckhannon, West Virginia, passed away on September 28, 2019, at age 52. Mrs. Pierson-Keating was the founder and director of Mountain Lakes Preservation Alliance, and a founding member of Preserve Our Water Heritage and Rights (POWHR). She was a board member of the Buckhannon River Watershed Association, the cancer research group ICARE, and the WV Environmental Council, and she was also a member of the Sierra Club, the WV Highlands Conservancy, and Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition (OVEC). When one met Mrs. Pierson-Keating, one could not help noticing and absorbing her passion for environmental preservation.

    Mrs. Pierson-Keating received the Buckhannon BEST Award on May 14, 2019 in recognition of her commitment. Mayor David McCauley stated: “Mrs. Keating is a supreme protector of our environment. She is a lobbyist for clean water at both our state and federal governments, a participant in Buckhannon’s Community Unity & Kindness Day, the Equality March, the Science March, and other awareness activities… April Keating has helped us all in our B-U community to be happier and healthier in many ways.”

  • Ricky Allen Roles

    Ricky Allen Roles passed away at age 61 at his ranch in Silt, Colorado, on November 22, 2018. Mr. Roles was an adamant anti-fracking activist and spent many years fighting for safer oil and gas drilling and fracking regulations. He tirelessly fought to protect our earth’s sacred water and soil for the health and wellness of all living creatures. He is featured in books such as Fractivism and Collateral Damage, and documentaries including the Emmy Award winning film Split Estate and Oscar-nominated and Emmy-Award winning Gasland. He also bravely testified before Colorado’s Congress on the dangers of fracking.

    Mr. Roles shared how his and his livestock’s health precipitously declined with the drilling of 19 wells on his property. He experienced respiratory, immune, and nervous system problems. Despite his health problems,
    he strove to create awareness of the harmful impacts of fracking in his community and beyond. With those publications, his voice, beliefs and legacy will be heard forever.

  • John A. Trallo Sr.

    John A. Trallo, Sr., 67, of Sonestown, Pennsylvania passed away on August 13, 2019. Mr. Trallo was a dedicated environmental activist who contributed to several groups working on pressing environmental issues such as hydraulic fracturing. He was a brilliant man who earned three college degrees and a teaching certificates in two states. He asked hard questions and was adamant in keeping government officials accountable. Some of the groups he was involved with were: Responsible Drilling Alliance (RDA), Shale Justice, The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF), PA Community Rights Network, and Organizations United for the Environment. Mr. Trallo left this planet a better place for future generations, and we honor his spirit by continuously working towards his noble vision.

 

Sponsors and Partners

The Sentinels’ program and reception requires financial support—for monetary awards, awardee travel, and many

Michele Fetting of the Breathe Project and and FracTracker Board Member introducing 2019 Sentinel Award Winner Sharon Lavigne

other costs. As such, each year we call upon dedicated sponsors and partners for resources to enable this endeavor to continue. The daily, often-thankless jobs of Community Sentinels working to protecting our health and the environment deserve no less. Thank you to this year’s incredible award sponsors: The Heinz Endowments, 11th Hour Project, Center for Coalfield Justice, and Foundation for PA Watersheds.

We extend a big thank you to the following award partners: Viable Industries, Indigenous Environmental Network, Oxfam, Rootskeeper, Food & Water Watch, STAND.earth, Halt the Harm Network, Sierra Club, Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, Choose Clean Water Coalition, Beaver County Marcellus Awareness Community, Mountain Watershed Association, Southwest Pennsylvania Environmental Health Project, Earthworks, and FracTracker Alliance.

 

Nominees

The following 18 people were nominated by their peers to receive this distinguished award:

  • Laurie Barr – Coudersport, PA

    2019 Sentinel Award Winner Melissa Troutman with introducer Leanne Leiter of Earthworks

  • Kim Bonfardine – Elk County, PA
  • Kim Fraczek – New York, NY
  • Lisa Graves – Marcucci Washington, DC
  • Ron Gulla – Canonsburg, PA*
  • Leatra Harper – Bowling Green, OH
  • Maury Johnson – Greenville, WV
  • Theresa Landrum – Detroit, MI
  • Sharon Lavigne – St. James, Louisiana*
  • Sara Loflin – Erie, CO
  • Ann Pinca – Lebanon, PA
  • Randi Pokladnik – Uhrichsville, OH
  • Patricia Popple – Chippewa Falls, WI
  • Bev Reed – Bridgeport, OH
  • Allie Rosenbluth – Medford, OR*
  • Bob Schmetzer – South Heights, PA
  • Yvonne Taylor – Watkins Glen, NY
  • Melissa Troutman – Pittsburgh, PA*

* Denotes 2018 award recipient

Judges

Many thanks to the following judges for giving their time to review all of the nominations.

  • Mariah Davis – Choose Clean Water Coalition
  • Brenda Jo McManama – Indigenous Environmental Network
  • Kathleen Brophy – Oxfam
  • Dr. Pamela Calla – New York University
  • Matt Krogh – STAND.earth

2019 Sentinel Award Winner Ron Gulla

 

Ethan Buckner of Earthworks introducing 2019 Sentinel Award Winner Sharon Lavigne

 

Keynote Speaker Andrey Rudomakha, Director of Environmental Watch on North Caucasus, with translator Kate Watters, Co-founder & Executive Director

 

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