Economics and Physics has the Nobel. Journalism has the Pulitzer. Environmentalists have the Goldman.
The Goldman Prize is the world’s largest award honoring grassroots environmental activists. It’s awarded to six activists every year – one on each continent. Winners are selected by an international jury who receive confidential nominations submitted by a worldwide network of environmental organizations and individuals. Since the it was established in 1989, a total of $15.9 million has been awarded to 157 honorees from more than 79 countries.
Last month the 2017 Goldman Prize winners were announced and two of the recipients echo local fights of our own, briefly turning the spotlight on Downwinders’ beginnings as a group fighting the burning of hazardous waste in the local Midlothian cement kilns.
Uroš Macerl, an organic farmer from Slovenia, successfully stopped a 130-year old LaFarge cement kiln from co-incinerating pet coke with hazardous industrial waste by rallying legal support from fellow Eko Krog activists and leveraging his status as the only citizen allowed to challenge the plant’s permits.
As part of the celebration of his winning, global anti-incineration group GAIA is hosting a page featuring other cement kiln warriors and of course no such page would be complete without a mention of Downwinders. Answering the question posed by GAIA of “Why We fought?” the memorial features the Downwidners float in the 1995 Duncanville Fourth of July Parade with the statement the “We fought the largest hazardous waste permit in US history against TXI cement because we didn’t believe official assurances that it was safe to burn modern toxics in obsolete cement kilns. We were right.”
The North American Goldman winner was Mark Lopez who was recognized for his role in closing down, and then getting a clean-up of the Exide lead smelter on Los Angeles’ East Side. That would be the same Exide corporation that operated an outlaw lead smelter in Frisco until Downwinders and its affiliate Frisco Unleaded teamed up to close it down in only nine months back in 2012.
Downwinders salutes all the Goldman Prize winners but wonders if anyone on either coast will take note of what this “little group that could” has done here in the belly of the beast over the last two decades? If you agree we’re at least worth the consideration, won’t you please throw some money into the hat. We’ve still got Giants to slay.