An environmental front in Civil Rights
Jim Morris and his team on the environment beat have delivered an epic package on the failure of the Environmental Protection Agency to fulfill its mission to defend civil rights and combat “environmental racism”. It’s a powerful indictment on the state of enforcement at the agency and the plight of people — generally poor and frequently of color — who find themselves facing disasters on their doorsteps.
The package has several installments to come next week. I’d particularly call out two excellent first person pieces in this first week, one by Kristen Lombardi on a site near Selma which typifies the failure of the civil rights protection and another today by Talia Buford on the plight of residents near a proposed hazardous waste site in New Mexico. The data visualization which illustrates the legacy of neglect with hard data is a master of its type by Talia and our news app developer Yue Qiu.
It’s for this kind of work that Jim and the team were awarded a Society of Environmental Journalists prize this week. It was specifically for the Big Oil, Bad Air, package on the environmental and health impact of fracking. David Heath won an honorable mention for another series on the EPA. The same Big Oil, Bad Air package also won the Heywood Broun award of distinction from the Newspaper Guild. Apart from the prestige and pride Jim and the Center can take in these awards, we know donors value the recognition.
We also know the importance of distribution and impact for these stories off our sites and on carefully chosen partners. One of the sometimes unsung heroes of our operation is communications manager Bill Gray, who negotiates with our partners. In the Environmental Justice, Denied package the partner is primarily NBC and its BLK channel with pieces here, here and here. The video is powerful.