For Release Sept. 21, 2013
Contact: Ellen Davis - (512) 639-9959 or firstname.lastname@example.org
San Francisco − Four Sierra Club 2013 national awards go to Texans
Sierra Club Honors Four Texans
Recognizes Sierra Club Environmental Justice Pioneer
San Francisco – Four Texans were among those receiving national awards from the Sierra Club this year.
The Club’s top award, the John Muir Award, went to Dr. Robert Bullard, Dean of the Barbara Jordan-Mickey Leland School of Public Affairs at Texas Southern University in Houston.
Dr. Bullard is often described as the father of environmental justice. Shortly after receiving his Ph.D. in sociology from Iowa State University, he and his wife became involved in a lawsuit against the siting of a landfill in a Houston neighborhood that was 82 percent black. In doing research for the lawsuit, Dr. Bullard and his researchers found that African-American neighborhoods in Houston were often chosen for toxic waste sites, even though blacks made up only 25 percent of the city’s population. This was the first study to document environmental discrimination under the Civil Rights Act.
Dr. Bullard went on to become a leading scholar and advocate for environmental justice. He helped organize the first National People of Color Environmental Leadership Summit in 1991 which produced the landmark “Principles of Environmental Justice” manifesto. He was a leader in lobbying the federal government to establish the Office of Environmental Justice within the Environmental Protection Agency and the Environmental Justice Executive Order issued by President Bill Clinton in 1994.
Dr. Bullard has written 17 books that address sustainable development, environmental racism, urban land use, industrial facility siting, community reinvestment, housing, transportation, climate justice, emergency response, smart growth, and regional equity.
His book Dumping in Dixie: Race, Class and Environmental Quality is a standard text in the environmental justice field. He has two Sierra Club Books to his name: his 1994 book, Unequal Protection: Environmental Justice and Communities of Color and his 2005 book, The Quest for Environmental Justice: Human Rights and the Politics of Pollution. His latest books include Race, Place and Environmental Justice After Hurricane Katrina: Struggles to Reclaim, Rebuild, and Revitalize New Orleans and the Gulf Coast.
In 2008, Newsweek named Dr. Bullard one of 13 Environmental Leaders of the Century. And in 2012, he was featured in Welcomebooks Everyday Heroes: 50 Americans Changing the World One Nonprofit at a Time. He received the National Wildlife Federation’s Conservation Achievement Award in 1990.
Recognizes Sierra Club members under age 30
Jessica Olson from Round Rock received the Joseph Barbosa Award, which recognizes Sierra Club members under the age of 30.
Olson is a senior at Southwestern University in Georgetown, where she is majoring in environmental studies and feminist studies. She became involved with the Sierra Club in 2011 after attending the PowerShift conference in Washington, D.C. That summer, she attended the Sierra Student Coalition’s Summer Leadership Training Program known as SPROG.
Olson interned with Sierra Club Lone Star Chapter, the Beyond Coal Campaign, and the Lone Star Clean Fuels Alliance. In spring 2012, she coordinated the Lone Star Chapter’s internship program, supervising 12 interns.
Olson recently completed a term on the Sierra Student Coalition Executive Committee and was one of 12 students selected to represent the SSC as youth delegates to the United Nations Climate Change Conference known as COP18, held in Doha, Qatar, in November 2012. She led several workshops at the conference and blogged extensively from the conference to help others understand what was happening.
At Southwestern University, Olson is co-chair of the student environmental group on campus, which is called Students for Environmental Activism and Knowledge, or SEAK. In February 2013, she took three other Southwestern students with her to Washington, D.C., to participate in a rally for climate change that Sierra Club supported.
Olson spent the summer of 2013 teaching at Penn State’s Environmental Center. She hopes to attend graduate school to study environmental science and policy and would eventually like to work in the area of environmental policy and advocacy as a lobbyist or perhaps even a negotiator for the United Nations.
The Lone Star Chapter has received $250 to help Olson further her work.
Liz Wheelan of Dallas received the Madelyn Pyeatt Award, which honors Sierra Club volunteers who have made outstanding contributions through work with youth.
Wheelan has been chair of the Dallas ICO for six years and represents the Southwest ICO groups on the ICO National Steering Committee. This past year, she worked hard to ensure that new ICO group in San Antonio got off to a solid start.
The Dallas ICO has received $500 to help Wheelan continue her work.
The Club’s David Brower Award went to the StateImpact Texas reporting team, which includes reporters from KUT-FM in Austin and KUHF-FM in Houston.
StateImpact Texas is part of a larger project called StateImpact that is sponsored by National Public Radio. The StateImpact Texas project has been producing in-depth stories on how energy and environmental issues affect the public. Several of the StateImpact Texas stories have quoted representatives from Sierra Club.
The on-air content is supplemented by additional materials online as well as a social media presence. For more information on the project, visit http://stateimpact.npr.org/texas/.