Nominations for the 2020 Community Sentinel Award for Environmental Stewardship [CLOSED]
Nominations for the 2020 Community Sentinel Award for Environmental Stewardship
The 2020 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 sixth 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.
The nomination form can be found at the bottom of this page.
Save the Date!
The 2020 Community Sentinel Award ceremony will be held virtually on the evening of Thursday, December 10th. We welcome friends in the environmental justice movement from across the country to tune in to this special occasion.
Criteria for the 2020 Community Sentinel Award for Environmental Stewardship
Criteria for the 2020 Community Sentinel Award for Environmental Stewardship
We are collectively confronting four simultaneous crises: systemic racism, the COVID-19 pandemic, a major economic downturn, and the climate crisis. Many frontline communities across the country were already well aware of the interconnectedness of these issues, as they experience the worst of their consequences on a daily basis.
Economic injustice leads to chronic poverty in Black, Indigenous, and Latinx communities, as well as in rural communities such as those in Appalachia and beyond. Predatory oil, gas, and petrochemical industries take advantage of these communities, creating health issues like air pollution that make people more susceptible to respiratory viruses like the coronavirus. And to make matters more unjust, the most damaging impacts of climate change — a global crisis caused by the carbon-based economy — are often seen in already-vulnerable communities.
The environmental justice movement continues to adapt and evolve in order to address the complexities of these tightly interwoven issues. Addressing the harms brought upon our communities, environments, and climate by the oil, gas, and petrochemical industries cannot be done in a vacuum — this work also necessitates dismantling structural racism and systems of socioeconomic oppression.
We stand in unwavering solidarity with the Sentinels and frontline communities confronting the fossil fuel industry, structural racism, police violence, and environmental injustice, as well as with all workers who are providing essential services during the pandemic and beyond. Thank you for your interest in joining us in recognizing their work.
The criteria for the 2020 Community Sentinel Award for Environmental Stewardship are as follows. The nominee should:
work to reduce the harms associated with oil, gas, and petrochemical development;
work within a framework of environmental justice* and anti-racism;
address the root cause of environmental injustice, not only the symptoms;
and be based in the United States, and work primarily on US-based issues.
Extra consideration will be given to individuals who live and work in frontline communities, and members of the Black, Indigenous, and Latinx communities, all of whom are heavily impacted by structural racism.
The nomination period ends on Friday, October 23, 2020.
*Environmental Justice (EJ) is the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies.
2020 Community Sentinel Award for Environmental Stewardship Nominations are closed
Questions? Please contact Shannon Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are excited to announce that FracTracker will be the beneficiary of a cross-country cycling expedition! Starting today, Dave Weyant of San Mateo, California will set out on a 4,262 mile cross-country journey on the Transamerica Route from tidewater Virginia to the Oregon Coast. The funds raised through this ride will be used by FracTracker to conduct tours and presentations to college and high school students – to show them first-hand or through compelling maps and imagery the harms that accompany oil and gas development and the better energy options available now. If you’d like to donate, please visit Dave’s Go Fund Me page. We appreciate your contribution for this important purpose.
Interview with Dave Weyant:
We interviewed Dave to learn more about his motivations for the trek and for supporting FracTracker.
When did you start thinking about doing this adventure?
Since 1976, when the Trans Am trip was first done to celebrate the bicentennial; I was 10 years old.
What excites you most about this trip/what are you looking forward to?
The self-reliance aspect of it, the fact that all I have will be on my bike. And all those miles, slowly seeing the US landscape change. I imagine I’ll have to eat a lot, too, and I enjoy eating.
What do you think will be the greatest challenges?
Humidity, bad weather, and a few things to be determined that I hadn’t planned for.
Why are you helping out FracTracker?
I’m concerned about fracking and fossil fuel development, especially the effects on the environment, drinking water, and how all this activity tends to slow or detract from investments in renewable energy. Being a history teacher, I hate the thought of someone looking back on us and saying “what were they thinking?”
What gives you hope that we can save the planet and effectively fight climate change?
Young people who care and are informed.
What was your favorite cycling experience to date?
Cycling down the coast from San Francisco to LA. Beautiful!
Why should others take up cycling? Why is it important to you?
It is a clean source of transportation. It keeps us healthy, removes cars from the road, and takes you back to being a kid pedaling through your neighborhood.
Check back throughout the summer for more articles & info about Dave’s experiences on the road.
https://www.fractracker.org/a5ej20sjfwe/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/Dave-Weyant-Feature.jpg400900FracTracker Alliancehttps://www.fractracker.org/a5ej20sjfwe/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/2021-FracTracker-logo-horizontal.pngFracTracker Alliance2016-05-31 15:15:502020-03-05 11:51:13Pedal Power for the Planet
By Brook Lenker, Executive Director, FracTracker Alliance
The understanding of fracking’s harms has grown dramatically in the last decade, especially since FracTracker’s formation in 2010. Across the country and around the world, environmental and human health impacts of oil and gas development have been well documented. Every day brings new cause for concern.
During this same period, scientific and public awareness about the consequences and causation of climate change has accelerated and we watch with trepidation as profound changes grip our planet. Atmospheric carbon dioxide levels have eclipsed 400 ppm. Temperature records are repeatedly broken. Weather extremes have become routine.
These tragic realities aren’t acceptable. Nationally and internationally, hundreds – if not thousands – of organizations are working on these issues and speaking out for transparency, accountability, and progress. Progress means informed populations, responsible policies, and an aggressive shift to renewable energy while embracing efficiency. Great things are happening. The future demands boldness.
FracTracker has always been a data-driven resource for all – to educate, empower, and catalyze positive change. The Alliance in our name underscores that we are an ally with the multitudes in that quest, but the weight of the times requires us to revisit our mission statement (below) and sharpen our message to better convey what we do and why we do it. A new logo and tagline reinforce our pronouncement.
FracTracker Alliance studies, maps, and communicates the risks of oil and gas development to protect the planet and support the renewable energy transformation.
So, welcome to the freshened words and appearance of the FracTracker Alliance. We’re the same trusted organization but striving to be bolder, to make a bigger difference for us all. The future is now.
If you have questions about these organizational changes, please email us at email@example.com, or call +1 202-630-6426.
Therese Vick is a highly-regarded community organizer with the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League in North Carolina. A big part of her work is serving BREDL chapters in Stokes, Anson, Lee, and Chatham counties – all frontline communities threatened by shale gas extraction. In these communities, she offers organizing assistance, training programs, and strategic campaign planning for local groups. Watch-dogging state regulatory agencies is also a significant part of Therese’s work, about which she publishes extensively on in her blog, From Where I Sit: Reports From The North Carolina Mining and Energy Commission Meetings. Therese lives in Raleigh, NC, with her cats Savannah and Charity, and a very opinionated bunny named Stella.
Q: To start, can tell us a little bit about your background and what brought you to the world of environmental advocacy work?
Therese: Well, I actually started out in a small town in Eastern North Carolina, working at a pharmacy. This was back in the very early ‘90s and a proposal for the world’s second largest hazardous waste incinerator landed on our county about six miles from my home. And this is a county that had no hospital. We had a volunteer fire department, but we had no haz-mat, none of that kind of infrastructure. That’s how I got involved in grassroots environmental work. I was a volunteer for years. Then I came on staff with Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League (BREDL) and was supported by a local organization – the North Hampton Citizens Against Pollution -through a small grant. I left my job at the drug store after about 15 years and went to work on a bunch of different issues, not just the hazardous waste incinerator, which we eventually defeated. I worked with BREDL for about three and a half years, then went back to work with my husband in his business and raised my kids but stayed active with local community groups off and on. I came here to the Triangle to complete my education in psychology and human services. I called the executive director of BREDL to let them know I was living here in Raleigh; I knew that they came to Raleigh sometimes. They offered me a job, I graduated, and I came back to work for BREDL. So that’s kind of how I ended up where I am right now. I have been volunteering and working on grassroots environmental issues for over 20 years.
Q: Now that you are back with Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League, what sorts of projects have you been working on?
A: It can change from one day to the next, but my biggest areas of work are on fracking, of course, disposal of coal ash, and air quality in particular. I’m also working on pipelines. The Atlantic Coast Pipeline is proposed to go through North Carolina. My co-worker and I are working with communities opposing that. And we work on myriads of other issues. We are community organizers, but we not only doing the organizing, we do a lot of research and technical assistance and watchdog regulatory agencies and things like that as well. That is another big part of my job, is public records and investigations and things like that.
Q: You also do a lot to communicate your findings to the public by way of your blog, From Where I Sit. How do you think that work has made a difference in helping community to understanding the political landscape of gas development?
A: How that blog came about was, I was attending many, many meetings. I can’t even tell you how many, I would say 100 meetings of the Mining and Energy Commission and their various committees, which were very hard to sit through and very frustrating. I wrote this really sarcastic report to our executive director and it was kind of funny too. He said, you know what, you need to start writing a blog before you lose your mind. So that is where it started. It was fun, but also serious. It’s a good organizing tool. In the court of public opinion, it is a good tool for communities to use and to let the general public know that this is something good we are doing for the community, for our community. I mean, it’s something that has to be done because we are just not being protected like we should be. And I don’t see that changing any time soon.
Fighting for Government Transparency
Q: How has all of this work that you are involved in shaped your feelings on the importance of making information and data available to the public?
A: Back in the ‘90s there were these proponents of the incinerator who were very assertive about how we needed the incinerator and how it was going to help the state and all of this stuff. People just had never known them to be active politically so they knew something was going on – all the proponents said, “oh we have nothing to gain from this, nothing. We just think it’s a good idea and blah, blah, blah.” So when I went to the state to do a file search, the first one I had ever done, nervous as I could be, and I found three options from three of the biggest proponent land owners with the company – they were selling their land to the company for the hazardous waste incinerator. Nobody knew this. And I so I paid my 25 cents a page, copied them, and hurried back home from Raleigh to the little town I lived. Long story short, it was a really big story. It was a statewide story and I got some threats, some anonymous threats, and I had a lawyer that call me saying I had no right to those documents. I ended up hanging up on him. Anyway, that kind of got me hooked on the power of having information.
Q: Have you found a similar sense of importance in working with oil and gas related data? I know, for instance, you have done a lot of writing about Halliburton having deep political ties in your area.
A: Well the Halliburton one, Greenpeace did some reporting on that piece and it got national attention. Most of the Mining and Energy Commission stuff is pretty mundane, but this one commissioner was not careful. I requested specific information about if they had met with certain individuals—all the commissioners, it was a request to all the commissioners. I wanted calendar entries and all that stuff. It took them a little bit to get me the information. But then this one commissioner he had it all in a folder that was marked Halliburton. I was stunned. There was this guy, Bowen Health, and he was a registered lobbyist for Halliburton. And this Commissioner, George Howard, he was on the Mining and Energy Commission. He had this folder marked Halliburton. Now, compared to other places of the country we had a pretty strong chemical disclosure law. And Halliburton essentially nixed that. They got that backed up. But this commissioner, he had a calendar entry on December 5th, 2012, from 5:30-6:00pm, there with Bowen Health, the Halliburton lobbyist. All of the commissioners had just maintained, over and over and over again, “We haven’t had any contact with Halliburton.” That is what led me to request the records and there it was, just in black and white. And, I tell you what, it made some of them really mad at him.
Q: What would you say, at this point, is the biggest challenge moving forward with this work?
A: I think the current anti-regulatory frenzy at the state level, the lack of care and concern for public health and the environment at the state level, and the rush to exploit oil and gas in North Carolina at any cost. Those would be the three biggest challenges you have to battle every single day. You’ve got the same philosophy at the head of the environmental agency that you have in the governor’s mansion and in the legislature. People that don’t—at least say they don’t—believe in climate change. People that think that fracking is fine. People that think that offshore drilling is great. Conservative folks, and I’m not political, but that’s one thing that kind of astounded me at the beginning of this. Forced pooling is legal in North Carolina, and it has been since the ‘40s. The fact that people who consider themselves believers in personal and private property rights support, or don’t repeal, that law just was stunning to me. I’m seeing the same thing with imminent domain and the pipelines. So the fact that all this stuff can be ignored, and with the legislature, the governor, and the Department Environment and Natural Resources having that same philosophy, makes it difficult, but not impossible.
Q: So how do you overcome the challenges of anti-disclosure and anti-regulatory sentiments?
A: You have to continue to try to expose what is going on. And, actually, I have got a huge request that I have been going through on coal ash that has some of what I was just telling you about. You have to expose what is going on to educate the public. You have to develop strategic plans within the bigger organization and at the community level, because you just have to be prepared for whatever comes next. And working at the grassroots is the most important thing – folks working in local communities with their local governments, that is the most important thing.
Q: If there was one thing that you would communicate to people or groups that are getting off the ground to deal with similar problems in other parts of the country, what would you say to those individuals?
A: We only have to last one day longer than they do. In other words, don’t give up. If you need to take a little break then take a break, but try to celebrate along the way because it’s hard work. It’s very, very hard work and it can be very depressing and stressful, especially when you are living in a targeted community or you are living with a problem. Try to have fun when you can find it.
Q: Is there anything else that you would like to mention that is important to you personally?
A: I just wanted to say – about the Community Sentinel Award – I wanted to lift up the communities that I work with. Over time they become friends, and they are the heroes. They are the heroes, and I couldn’t do the kind of work that I do without them.
https://www.fractracker.org/a5ej20sjfwe/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/Photos-Feature.png400900FracTracker Alliancehttps://www.fractracker.org/a5ej20sjfwe/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/2021-FracTracker-logo-horizontal.pngFracTracker Alliance2016-02-05 15:09:352020-03-12 13:33:25Interview with Therese Vick – Sentinel Award Winner
Craig Stevens is a 6th generation landowner from Silver Lake Township in Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania. Craig and his neighbors have experienced first-hand the truck traffic, noise, air pollution, and water contamination issues that often accompany shale gas extraction. Beginning in 2011 Craig began arranging tours of Susquehanna Co. to share affected residents’ stories with the press. This work has attracted citizens, journalists, elected officials, and celebrities from all over the world who now see Susquehanna Co. as an example of what could happen in their own backyards. We spoke with Craig about his work.
Q: Perhaps we can start by telling the readers your story, how you come back to Pennsylvania and how this led to your advocacy work related to oil and gas development?
Craig: Well, I was born in California in 1960, lived there for 46 years. Then my dad got sick in 2006; he was diagnosed with terminal esophageal cancer. My brother and sister and I ended up inheriting the ancestral 115-acre property. I had visited there my whole life, every couple of years, but I knew nothing about oil and gas or coal or any extraction methods and pretty much grew up at the beach in Southern California. Nobody in the family wanted to keep the family property, so I moved up here in January of 2010. The first thing I did was to check the deed to make sure that it had been transferred to our names. That’s when I found a gas lease for the property. On my father’s deathbed, he told us not to have anything to do with the industry, that he had refused to sign a lease. But then I did my research and found out Chesapeake Energy had signed my 95 year old grandmother, who was living in a nursing home, to a ten year oil and gas lease. My grandmother was a tenant but did not own the property. In Pennsylvania, and many other states, you can’t transfer mineral rights to anybody that’s a life tenant because that is part of a real estate deal. But they did it, they recorded it on our deed, tying up all of our mineral rights and giving it to Chesapeake Energy.
The second thing that got me fired up was when I was riding my three-wheeler and found a company had staked out a half-mile area right down the middle of our property. They were looking to put in a 16-inch pipeline without our permission or knowledge. So I pulled all the stakes out, went into town, and found the company. They right there offered me money. They said, well, we are going to put this in and we appreciate it if your family signed up, because we need to get this gas to market. After I refused their offer they told me all my neighbors had signed along the route already and I was going to be holding things up. Then they said, the state wants us here and they are going to give us Certificate of Public Convenience, so we are going to take your property either way. So that was my introduction to the gas industry.
Q: You have said in the past that we need to think about how we deal with shale gas extraction’s impacts as a matter of helping each other deal with civil and human rights abuses. Can you explain what you mean by that?
A: I was raised always to think globally, but act locally. Because everything that happens in our lives happens in our backyard and that is where things go. I was very politically active from a young age. My father got us all politically active. My older brother and my younger sister, at 10 years old, 8 years old, we were going to city council meetings and town council and county commission meetings, just because my dad was interested in what was going on in his community. Back then my neighbors in Dimock, PA, were having a problem. So I thought, I better find out what’s happening. Not only help them, because they are having a problem that doesn’t look like it’s resolved, but also to help prevent it from coming to Silver Lake Township. I always try to help people that are having a problem, especially with big people and bullies. So it was natural for me to stand with them and I started to tell my own story at the same time.
The Citizens’ Perspective
Q: Tell me about some of the projects you have been involved in that bring the public into shale gas debates. For instance, I know you organize regular tours of gas fields. Who attends these tours? What do you think they learn from visiting gas communities?
A: We’ve had 40 sitting assembly members and 8 state senators from New York State visit Susquehanna Co. We have had hundreds of mayors and town supervisors and country commissioners come and see first hand from a citizens’ perspective. We have had 60 countries come and send their public television stations. One of our tours was with Sean Lennon, Yoko Ono, Susan Sarandan, Arun Gandhi (Gandhi’s grandson) and Josh Fox. They had 35 journalists with them, including Rolling Stone. When they come we tell these people, also go take an industry tour, so they can see the other side. We encourage it because we don’t want them to think we are just bashing them and that they don’t get to defend themselves. Our thing was, if we highlight what is happening in our little neck of the woods then we could educate by showing the truth and affect the debate. Of course we were attacked viciously by the oil and gas industry, and by Energy in Depth, but also by the local elected officials that were pro-gas.
Q: This obviously requires a community effort. How have people and organizations in the area come together through these actions, and have they been able to develop more power by not just working as individuals?
A: Well here is the interesting thing. When I moved here, there were about 50 people that would show up at public meetings to discuss their first-hand experiences. These were people from Dimock, PA, and other surrounding areas. Besides that, there really was no collective organizing in Northeastern Pennsylvania. But we found that, by telling our stories, we brought the interest of organizations like New Yorkers Against Fracking and Mark Ruffalo’s group, Water Defense. They started to adopt us. I and other families started to travel all over, not only in New York but also in New Jersey and Ohio, to educate people. I realized that I was meant to take these stories further out. I took them to all these State Houses — North Carolina, Florida, Maryland, New York, New Jersey, Ohio. In California I was allowed to go and sit with the Governor’s entire Cabinet in his executive office. I was very proud to go there since I grew up in California.
Q: In the bigger picture of protecting our environment, why do you think it’s important for concerned citizens to get involved in these kinds of activities?
A: I have four children who will not live on the same clean planet that I did; as dirty as we thought it was in the ‘60s and ‘70s when I grew up, this is going to make that look like the heyday of environmental cleanliness. I’m doing this because I really believe this is a generational suicide we’re experiencing. By not telling this story, I would be complicit. When people see the gas company’s commercials and hear the radio ads, it sounds like the truth because it’s coming from credible people. By facing up to these giants, and showing people that you can do it and win like in New York, that can start a grassroots fire all around the world. And that has happened if you look at what is happening in England and Poland and Spain and France and Germany. We are proud to be part of that movement.
Q: What would you say is the most valuable insight you have learned from working with people fighting the gas industry?
A: The most valuable lesson for me is that people power trumps corporate power. People sometimes just don’t realize that they have an inner strength – that an average person who knew nothing about this five and a half or six years ago can get involved and become leaders. I’m more excited today than ever. I went to Florida. They have some very bad chemical non-disclosure bills. Right now we have 15 counties and 35 cities in Florida that have passed resolutions for bans of fracking for oil or gas in Florida. Maryland is safe until October of 2017 because of their moratorium. So what we are doing is working. I try to remind people, and everyone out there should know this, that you are a federal citizen, the same you are a citizen of the state or Commonwealth or republic that you live in. You are protected constitutionally and legally as a federal taxpayer. So the federal government can’t just throw us to the wolves of these individual states. They have to act. If they don’t, then they need to step down and let somebody get in there that has the health and safety of their citizens at the top of their list of what they are supposed to be doing every day in their position of power.
https://www.fractracker.org/a5ej20sjfwe/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/Stevens-Sentinel.jpg400900FracTracker Alliancehttps://www.fractracker.org/a5ej20sjfwe/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/2021-FracTracker-logo-horizontal.pngFracTracker Alliance2015-12-11 12:35:542020-03-12 13:40:01Interview with Craig Stevens – Sentinel Award Winner
Kirk Jalbert, FracTracker’s Manager of Community Based Research & Engagement, interviews Dorina Hippauf, one of FracTracker’s 2015 Community Sentinels Award Winners.
Dorina Hippauf is the Chair of the Research Committee for the Gas Drilling Awareness Coalition (GDAC) of Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, and a contributing member of the Shale Justice Coalition. When a landman came knocking on her door in 2010, offering riches in exchange for a gas lease, Dory took the old saying of “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably isn’t” to heart. This was the starting point that led to her dedicated exploration of the industry’s practices and the creation of the Shale Players project, which now contains over 10,000 entries of who is connected to who in the industry. Dorina is one of three recipients of the 2015 FracTracker Community Sentinels Award. Here we talk with Dory about her work to connect the dots between board rooms, lobbyists, PR firms, astroturf organizations, and government agencies that promote the agendas of the gas industry.
Q: Dorina, perhaps we can begin by your telling me a bit about what brought you to advocacy work related to oil and gas development?
Dorina: What got me into the whole issue of gas drilling was, one, when I was driving to work, I would see flares on hillsides and I didn’t really understand what was going on. You know, there were big, large flames and my first thought was, something is on fire. Then I realized that from the way it was flaming, it was contained. But I still didn’t know what was going on. And then we had a land man come knock on our door and start offering us a lease. And we only have three quarters of an acre. Originally he was offering $1,000 an acre and when we said we only have three quarters of an acre, he dropped the price to $750. Everything just didn’t sound right. So I started doing some online investigating. I came across the GDAC, which is a local grassroots group in our area. I started attending meetings and I got involved from there.
The big driller here that was signing everybody up was Encana, which is of course based out of Canada. They did three test wells in our area. All three came up dry. Basically we are right at the edge of the productive end of the Marcellus Shale. Encana, shortly after they finished up the last test well, released everybody from their leases and left town in 2011. But I remained active with GDAC because I realized they have to get the gas to market. We’re located along the Transcontinental Pipeline, an ideal place for them to connect to gas hubs for gathering lines. So I knew the whole issue of gas drilling wasn’t going to be over with just Encana leaving our area.
The Shale Players Project
Q: I know that one of the projects that you were instrumental in founding was the Shale Players project. Tell me more about that project, how it began, and what its status is presently?
A: I was at a GDAC meeting and somebody was talking about Encana and the question was asked, who is Encana? So I started Googling them and getting some information and this lead to other connections and I realized that just jotting things down on a piece of paper wasn’t going to give the whole picture. A lot of these companies are all interconnected one way or the other. I created this spreadsheet that grew into the Shale Players project. I have lists of the executives that work at these companies, the Board of Directors, politicians that are connected to them, other front groups, trade agencies, Astroturf, PR firms, and lobbying groups. It has grown to over 10,000 entries now.
Dorina explains Shale Players in her video “Connecting the Dots”
Q: How have you disseminated your findings and what are some of the results that you have seen come from this research?
A: Anyone who wants it, I give it to them. It’s also online on Google Docs. What I hope to do eventually is find someone that is able to put this into a format so it’s searchable online. So that when you type in somebody’s name or a company, it shows all of those connections. I update the online version every three or four months. As for what we’ve done with the results, the Public Accountability Initiative used it when they did their expose on Pennsylvania and gas drilling. Walter Brasch also cited a lot of my work in his book Fracking Pennsylvania. Other groups are using it because they go looking for information on a company that they may be dealing with.
Q: You also do a fair amount of blogging too, correct?
A: Yes, my blog is Frackorporation. When I blog, I usually try to show the connections to the genealogy of some of these organizations to give people a better idea of who they are really dealing with. So many people are looking for a single villain to blame. But it’s all interconnected. And that’s what I’m trying to show people, that this is more than just drilling and fracking and dealing with one company, it also extends to the whole issue of lobbying, the citizen united decision, and with unlimited donations to candidates. A lot of money gets passed around. Alec is involved, the Koch brothers are involved. A lot of big names.
Q: How do you think your work has made a difference in the public’s understanding of the political and economic landscape of the gas industry?
A: Well, to some extent, it discourages people because they see how large and involved it is. But on the other hand, it also makes them angry and they realize that you have to deal with this issue on a lot of different levels, both in terms of environmental impact, getting the community involved, and that its important to get involved politically. Also, it helps them to determine who to contact if they want to write a letter to a company. Too often we will just send it to the spokesperson who is just reading a script, but that is not whose attention you want to get. Also, the shareholders, they often don’t realize what the company is really doing. If you own one share of a company, you can go to their meetings and make a lot of noise.
Q: So this really is about building community and not just about collecting data. This relates to another project you are involved in called the Shale Justice Coalition. Can you tell me more about the Coalition?
A: The Shale Justice Coalition is a coalition of grassroots groups. Our overall objective is to stop the practice of fracking and to promote alternative energy as a better option. We have members in four or five in the states now as well as some from England and Ireland. Lots of information gets passed around as a result of the coalition — things that are going on in Ohio that we may not know about, things that are going on in New York — we try to share the information, get people interested and make them more aware of the bigger picture of the industry. Many of these groups will get a hold of me personally and ask me to write up a blog post about what is going on in their area. The media is not paying attention. With the Seneca Lake gas storage project there was some emails that were uncovered where Crestwood was telling its employees to boycott all businesses in the towns surrounding the lake that opposed the storage facility. Local groups had tried to get it to reporters who put it on the back burner and didn’t follow-up. I blogged about it, then it got picked up on social media, then the papers finally picked it up. Yeah, I mean, sometimes you have to rattle the cages.
Q: How has this work changed your perspective on the role of making information and data available to the public, in terms of making for better environmental protection?
A: It’s important to get this information out there, to make it readily accessible, easy for people to find and to use. I always thought when I first started this, that I could find one website where I could do a search on companies specifically for fracking and gas and oil drilling. But there wasn’t any. So in a way, with the Shale Players project, I’ve had to fill that niche. Also, a lot of the information I tend to find online I don’t know where they got their information. I take great pains to make sure whatever I put out there has the source link to it, so people can go and look for it themselves.
Q: So what is next for you Dory? What kind of new projects are you planning?
A: At the moment we are fighting the pipelines. I’ve been going around doing presentations at the request of organizations. Talking about what is going on with FERC and how the FERC process works. Letting people know what they need to be aware of the easement agreements and that they do have to negotiate. Just saying “no” to the easement and taking it to the point of imminent domain, if that is the course the company takes, isn’t enough. You have to show good faith and some attempt at negotiating an easement. Otherwise, when you go before the judge, he’s going to side with the company. Unfortunately, I think with these pipelines, unless we get more action from people, these pipelines are going to go through.
Truth-Out.org article by Dorina Hippauf and Ellen Cantarow
Q: Is there anything that you would communicate to other people and groups that are trying to get off the ground to deal with issues related to oil and gas?
A: Yes. One of the biggest things I keep hearing from people is that, when we have meetings or presentations or newspaper articles or whatever, we are only preaching to the choir. But what these groups have to realize is that the choir is growing. Every pipeline and every gas well sparks a new group of concerned people. So, the choir is growing and people are listening. It does get discouraging. It feels like you are losing at Whack-a-Mole. You are not going to get your cookies right now. And there is no one magic bullet that is going to fix everything. You have to deal with FERC, you have to deal with DEP, you have to deal with the government agencies that are involved. You have to consider who your legislators are. And you just can’t get discouraged. Take a break, stay off the computer for a week, recharge your batteries, and get back into it. You are in it for the long haul and you have to be able to make that commitment.
Q: Do you have any concluding thoughts for our readers?
A: People need to get local and be vocal. Tip O’Neil said, all politics are local and that is where it’s going to start. It’s like that movie, Groundswell. That’s grassroots. It starts from the bottom up to make real change. You can’t look at the federal government to fix it for you and the state government isn’t going to fix it either. You have to start locally and building the momentum there. And don’t give up.
https://www.fractracker.org/a5ej20sjfwe/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/Fracking-Most-Wanted-Feature1.jpg400900FracTracker Alliancehttps://www.fractracker.org/a5ej20sjfwe/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/2021-FracTracker-logo-horizontal.pngFracTracker Alliance2015-10-19 15:47:092020-03-12 13:45:26Interview with Dorina Hippauf – Sentinel Award Winner
Over the past few years, oil train traffic across the continent has increased rapidly with more than 500,000 rail cars moving oil in 2014 alone, according to the Association of American Railroads. The recent Lac-Mégantic, Quebec disaster and subsequent accidents illustrate the severity of this issue. There is a pressing need to determine true hazards facing our communities and to develop solutions to prevent further disasters. Across the United States and Canada, the issue of oil trains has quickly risen onto the agenda of community leaders, safety experts, researchers, and concerned citizens. There is much to discover and share about protecting people and vulnerable places from the various risks these trains pose. Oil Train Response 2015 provides two invaluable forums on this most pressing problem and provides information and insights for every audience.
November 13, 2015
Community Risks & Solutions Conference Presented by The Heinz Endowments
November 14 & 15, 2015
Activist Training Weekend Presented by ForestEthics
The one-day conference presented by The Heinz Endowments invites all interest groups to hear from experts about the scale and scope of this challenge, as well as updates on the current regulatory and legal frameworks; consider case studies about the actions/measures taken by various communities in response; and, participate in discussion sessions to explore solutions to better safeguard communities. Elected officials, regulators, and emergency response professionals from Pennsylvania and beyond are especially encouraged to attend to take advantage of this important learning and networking opportunity.
Training – November 14-15th
Saturday, Nov. 14th: Training 7:30 AM – 5:00 PM. Reception 6:00 – 8:00 PM
Sunday, Nov. 15th: Training 7:30 AM – 2:00 PM
A two-day training presented by ForestEthics will equip grassroots and NGO leaders from across the nation with better skills to take back to their communities, and provide critical opportunities for attendees to share winning strategies with each other. In the process of sharing, the conference will help to build both the oil train movement and support the broader environmental and social justice movements. Areas of strategic focus will include: organizing, communications, spokesperson training, data management for organizers, legal strategies, and crowd-sourced train tracking. It will also provide a structured forum for advocates fighting specific oil terminal proposals in places like Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Albany to develop shared strategies and tactics and provide all participants with the skills, knowledge and contacts they will need to carry on this work once they return home.
Oil trains are a major environmental justice issue. The conference and training will speak directly to environmental justice concerns and be inclusive of communities of color, economically disadvantaged urban and rural regions, and communities already experiencing environmental inequities. To this end, need-based travel scholarships will be provided. We are committed to developing the agenda in close consultation with our allies and attendees so that it meets their needs.
In my earlier conservation work, I was always inspired by the activities of certain volunteers. Whether it was a guy who touched the lives of scores of kids through his outings and mentorship or a watershed maven who was the queen of planting and restoration, there are people who go above and beyond to make a difference, help others, and heal the planet. Some call them saints, others call them stewards, but whatever you call them they deserve our praise.
In this spirit, FracTracker Alliance created an award – in partnership with the Halt the Harm Network – to honor three ‘sentinels’ amongst the thousands of volunteers across the United States working in their communities and cherished places to observe, measure, document and report impacts caused by activities of the oil and gas industry. In the complex universe around these issues, volunteers fill regulatory gaps in oversight and do extraordinary things. Everyday insights from citizens lead to the discovery of problems unnoticed or ignored, to enforcement and remediation, and to new perspectives and initiatives for environmental protection. Whether mapping or monitoring, capturing photos or video, a sentinel is someone watching tirelessly, caring boldly – an indispensable ally in informing science, understanding, and action.
Community Sentinel Nominations
The nomination process launched in July and closed on August 17th, with 27 nominations received from around the country but especially the Northeast. The nominee lineup was a tour de force:
Ling Tsou, United for Action – New York, NY
Craig Stevens, Food & Water Watch, NYAF, PAF and other organizations – Herndon, VA
Diane Sipe, Marcellus Outreach Butler – Evans City, PA
Therese Vick, Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League – Raleigh, NC
Vera Scroggins – Brackney, PA
Jim Rosenberg, Fayette Marcellus Watch – Grindstone, PA
Kel Pickens, Stop Fracking Payne County – Stillwater, OK
Dick Martin, Pennsylvania Forest Coalition – Boiling Springs, PA
Leatra Harper, Freshwater Accountability Project – Grand Rapids, OH
Michael Fitzgerald, The Finger Lakes Times and Subject2Change Media – Watkins Glen, NY
Dory Hippauf, Gas Drilling Awareness Coalition – Dallas, PA
Frank Finan, Breathe Easy Susquehanna County – Hop Bottom, PA
Karen Edelstein, FracTracker Alliance – Lansing, NY
Dana Dolney, Friends of the Harmed – Pittsburgh, PA
John Detwiler, Marcellus Protest – Pittsburgh, PA
Malinda Clatterbuck, Martic Soul – Holtwood, PA
Anne Marie Garti, Stop the (UN) Constitutional Pipeline – East Meredith, NY
An esteemed panel of judges carefully considered the outstanding choices without pause to geography. Judges included:
Paul Feezel – Chair, Carroll Concerned Citizens
Julie Weatherington-Rice – Senior Scientist, Bennett & Williams
Jennifer Krill – Executive Director, Earthworks
Francisco “Paco” Ollervides – Leadership Development Manager, River Network
Ben Stout – Professor of Biology, Wheeling Jesuit University & FracTracker Alliance Board of Directors
Phil Pritchard – Retired, Nature Conservancy et al & FracTracker Alliance Board of Directors
In the end, in what were admitted to be very difficult decisions, three winners were chosen.
Dory Hippauf, Therese Vick, and Craig Stevens became the first recipients of the Community Sentinel Awards for Environmental Stewardship. Let’s make the ground shake with seismic applause! In the weeks to come, FracTracker plans to highlight each of these conservation heroes, sharing their experiences and inspiring others.
The Community Sentinels will be duly recognized at a FracTracker Film Night event in Mechanicsburg, PA on Saturday evening, September 12 where they will receive very special artisan-made awards fit for proud display. If you can, please join us for this celebration.
[ticket sales closed]
I’m gratified for the chance to meet and honor these dedicated individuals and lift up the names of all the nominees. I also appreciate the time and thoughtfulness of the nominators who presented such worthy candidates. While this was the inaugural year for the Sentinel Awards, we intend to give them annually and continue to affirm the good performed by good people in communities near and far.
https://www.fractracker.org/a5ej20sjfwe/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/CommunitySentinel-Feature.jpg400900Brook Lenker, MAhttps://www.fractracker.org/a5ej20sjfwe/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/2021-FracTracker-logo-horizontal.pngBrook Lenker, MA2015-09-02 15:10:502020-03-10 14:38:423 Community ‘Sentinels’ Honored with FracTracker’s Environmental Stewardship Award
A FracTracker team has just returned from North Carolina where fracking has been given the green light by the state’s government. Time may tell what reserves are contained within the Mesozoic basins but already landmen are knocking on doors and striking deals with willing landowners. Offshore drilling is also under consideration in a state where tourism – fueled in part by renowned beach destinations – is a $20 billion a year industry.
OES panel answering questions in Asheville, NC
The visit was for Our Energy Solutions, a project bringing 14 workshops to seven countries on three continents. The aim is to help build a global community of engaged citizens and stakeholders who are informed of the risks of fossil fuels (like oil and natural gas), enlightened about renewable energy opportunities, and inspired to share ideas for a more sustainable planet. The attendance, interest, and dialogue at the North Carolina workshops were inspiring. People young and old came out to prove there is great concern about these issues. While acknowledging the complexities of energy and climate challenges, they seemed willing to dig-in, reach-out, engage, and act. The audiences owned the “Our” in Our Energy Solutions. Just weeks earlier, another team from FracTracker and the Ecologic Institute – the lead collaborators in Our Energy Solutions – launched the project with workshops in Florida, hosted by the South Florida Wildlands Association. In North Carolina, our partners were Environment North Carolina and MountainTrue. These regional and statewide groups offer abundant ways to get involved and illuminate a better path forward.
Both states are at risk from accelerated and more extreme hydrocarbon extraction, but both also bear significant potential for broad success with renewable energy. While only 0.1% of Florida’s current generating capacity comes from solar, it has some of the strongest incoming solar radiation in the country. North Carolina sports the best conditions for offshore wind energy on the east coast. The Tarheel State ranked 2nd in the nation for new installed solar capacity in 2014, and the same year, over 4,300 North Carolinians worked in the solar power industry. Already, 4,800 Floridians work in the solar industry.
Well density by county in the U.S.
The volatile economics of oil and gas, the effects of fossil fuel combustion on the planet, and the impairment of human health and the environment caused by extraction necessitate other approaches to meet our energy needs. Our Energy Solutions will strive to showcase brighter possibilities – one workshop at a time. Next stop, Argentina – May 5-12th.
Draft Protocol developed by FracTracker Alliance and Carnegie Mellon University’s CREATE Lab, modified via pilot counts with PennEnvironment
For more information please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Draft Last Updated: September 2, 2015
The purpose of this project is to document how many crude oil (1267) and liquefied petroleum gas (1075) train cars go through your area. These types of cars can be identified with their HAZMAT placards:
1267 hazmat placarded cars (crude oil):
1075 hazmat cars (liquefied petroleum gas):
Select a set of sites that cover possible train paths through the area of concern with as many of the following characteristics as possible:
Public place off of the road
Good lighting at night
Safe at night
Location where trains move more slowly, if possible
Avoid more than 2 tracks in parallel. Parallel tracks create the possibility of missing a train that’s obscured by another train.
Train Counting Equipment
1 clipboard, several pens
30 blank train reports per session
Two to three people
Phone with camera to record time for each train, and to take photographs and videos where possible (optional)
Radar gun (optional)
Video camera (optional)
A large umbrella or tent that can cover both the observers and the camera, when needed.
Chairs and other amenities to make sure observers are comfortable
How to Count Trains
There should be at least two, if not three people counting trains at all times. For each train that passes, fill out one Train Report Form. Align yourself perpendicular to the tracks. Capture photos and videos of the trains as you see fit.
Before a train arrives, fill out a new report form with all of the train counters’ names, a cell phone number or email address for one of you, and the date.
Counter 1 is responsible for counting cars marked with the 1267 HAZMAT placard. Counter 2 counts the cars with the 1075 placards. Counter 3 captures the train’s speed with the radar gun, and counts the total number of cars on each train – including the engine and caboose.
Once you hear a train coming, enter the start time on the sheet. Prepare the radar gun to capture the train’s speed as it goes by. While the train passes, count in your head how many cars pass of the type to which you have been assigned. Afterward, mark how many of each type of car the counters saw.
After the train passes, enter the final number of each type of HAZMAT cars on the train and the total number of cars. Also, write down the train’s speed, direction (if known), operator (company), and any additional notes about the session (such as placards that you could not distinguish clearly).
Turn in these tally sheets to your project coordinator. We would also appreciate it if you were to send information about your train counting results and experience to FracTracker Alliance: email@example.com.
Videotaping Best Practices
If you are using a video camera, here are some suggestions for improving the recording process.
Even during broad daylight it might be difficult to clearly videotape the trains if they are moving quickly. Try to find a counting location where the trains move slowly (e.g. 25 mph)
Test out the iPhone’s new slow motion camera feature
Set the video camera up at least 30 frames per second. 60 frames/second is better.
Don’t zoom, as this results in a dark aperture. Try finding a site and setting up close enough that you can get a good shot (but far enough away for safety purposes)
Train Report Form
Before Train Passes
Counter 1 Name:
Counter 2 Name:
Counter 3 Name:
While the train passes, count in your head how many cars pass of the type to which you have been assigned. Afterward, mark the number of each type below.
Train Car Types
Be sure to include information about what might be missing or uncertain — if there were two trains at once, or if you missed some cars for any reason. If you missed or couldn’t discern cars, try to include some insight on whether the situation could be improved in the future by better lighting or site selection, or if the train’s fast speed made it hard to keep up, etc. Remember to send your results to firstname.lastname@example.org.