SEJ's 24th Annual Conference Agenda — Saturday



Concurrent Sessions
Risk and Resilience Plenary
Rock 'n' Bowl Party



Agenda Registration Lodging/Travel Advertise/Exhibit Environmental News About New Orleans


As a journalism organization that believes in an open society, SEJ each year welcomes a diverse group of attendees to our annual conference. Attendees include representatives of business, government and environmental groups, as well as working journalists, academics and students.

Because non-journalists are here, you may see or hear presentations or responses to presentations that you might not expect from mainstream journalists. The presentations and any responses do not necessarily reflect the views of SEJ or any of its members.

As our guest, please respect our interest in open discussions of environmental issues by not disrupting presentations of views you disagree with.

Finally, please respect our rule that SEJ members are given preference during question-and-answer sessions.

All sessions, as well as registration, exhibits and breaks, will be at the Hilton New Orleans Riverside,
Two Poydras Street, New Orleans, Louisiana 70130 (504) 561-0500, unless otherwise indicated.

Breakfast on your own in the Big Easy. The River Blends Café, located in the Hilton, opens at 6:00 a.m. Le Croissant, also in the Hilton, opens at 6:30 a.m. Numerous other options are within walking distance of the Hilton. Check your registration packet for a list of restaurants and breakfast suggestions.


Saturday, September 6, 2014



8:00 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.

If you didn't sign up ahead of time for the Saturday night party or Sunday breakfast at the Audubon Zoo, there may still be room — please check with registration.

Location: 1st Floor Registration Counters (across from escalators in the conference area)


SEJ Information Table

8:00 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.

Sign up here for Mini-tours. Find information about SEJ Award winners, membership and services. Pick up copies of SEJournal and other SEJ information.

Location: Chemin Royale Foyer, near registration


SEJ Exhibits

8:00 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.

Don't miss the wealth of information offered by the 2014 exhibitors. Learn about environmental issues and innovations, educational opportunities, see some great displays and add to your source list.

Location: Grand Salon, 1st Floor



9:00 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.

New Orlean's own Octavia Books is on site to sell SEJ members' and speakers' books, as well as offering environmental books handpicked for the SEJ conference.

Location: Chemin Royale Foyer


Vehicle Technology Demo

Sign up in Chemin Royale foyer to test-drive new technology in the auto industry and to talk with experts.


Concurrent Sessions 3

9:00 - 10:15 a.m.

When the Big Story Breaks on Your Watch — Prying Information from the Government

We've all been there: A big environmental story breaks and you're scrambling, and you are not getting cooperation from the EPA or the FDA or some other agency. Find out what reporters who covered some of the biggest breakers did when they handled the Deepwater Horizon and the explosion in West, Texas. If you have your own tips, feel free to share!

Moderator: Robert McClure, Executive Director, InvestigateWest

Randy Lee Loftis, Environmental Writer, The Dallas Morning News
Lise Olsen, Investigative Reporter, Houston Chronicle
Barbara Reynolds, Director, Division of Public Affairs, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Location: Grand Salon, Room 4

Crowdsourcing and Sensors: Citizen Science Tools for Journalism

While there has been a lot of focus on citizen journalism, advances in technology are making it ever easier and cheaper for journalists of all stripes to adopt the tools of citizen science to improve environmental coverage. The advance of sensors and other data collection tools has enabled reporters and communities, including those in the Gulf, to engage in civic monitoring, and has the potential to radically localize and decentralize the gathering of data on pollution and environmental health. Crowdsourcing now enables journalists and media organizations to get news and information from many more sources, annotate it and create new media platforms that engage the public on climate change and other issues. We’ve brought together leading innovators who are using tools and data from NASA, NOAA, USGS, EPA, Silicon Valley and the general public to try and revolutionize how we cover the environment.

Moderator: James Fahn, Executive Director, Internews’ Earth Journalism Network and Lecturer, Graduate School of Journalism, University of California, Berkeley

Shannon Dosemagen, Co-Founder and Executive Director, Public Lab
Adam Glenn, Educator, Graduate School of Journalism, City University of New York; Digital Media Consultant, a2g Media; Editor, SEJournal, Society of Environmental Journalists; Editor, AdaptNY
Julia Kumari Drapkin, Founder and Executive Producer, iSeeChange and Multimedia Reporter/Producer, | The Times-Picayune
Willie Shubert, Senior Program Coordinator, Internews’ Earth Journalism Network

Location: Grand Salon, Room 10

Making Sustainability Stick: Communicating Complex Topics Without Losing Your Audience

Sustainable seafood, sustainable cities and even sustainable laundry detergent? The word "sustainable" has been so greenwashed, it's hard to know what it even means. How do we define it and why is it worth covering? From food systems to climate change to biodiversity, three reporters will share secrets they've learned about covering sustainability topics on the radio, in print and online. They'll reveal why sustainability coverage is not only important, it's still one of the richest types of environmental journalism.

Moderator: Lindsey Hoshaw, Coordinating Producer, QUEST

Cally Carswell, Contributing Editor, High Country News
Brian Howard, Editor & Producer,
Lauren Sommer, Science and Environment Reporter, KQED

Location: Grand Salon, Room 13

BP Spill — The Restoration: How Are Billions of Dollars Being Spent?

Billions of dollars in criminal and civil fines have been dedicated to restoration projects following the 2010 BP oil spill. In this panel, we will discuss the status of the Natural Resource Damage Assessment investigations and projects, and ask critical questions about how that money should be prioritized and spent. Our expert group represents a variety of viewpoints on this subject.

Moderator: Kate Sheppard, Senior Reporter and Environment and Energy Editor, The Huffington Post

Justin Ehrenwerth, Executive Director, Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council
Michelle Erenberg, Policy Analyst, Ocean Conservancy
Kyle Graham, Executive Director, Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, State of Louisiana
Tanner Johnson, Director, Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation
Colette Pichon Battle, Director and Attorney, Gulf Coast Center for Law & Policy

Location: Grand Salon, Room 7

Beyond the Water Wars

Epic drought in California, increasing aridity in the southwest, depletion of the High Plains aquifer, water strife in the wet east. How can journalists move beyond the political rhetoric of "water wars," toward helping their audiences understand scarcity and solutions? We'll explore covering freshwater in ways that expose underlying climate and water-management truths, as well as equity issues on water for industry, agriculture, ecosystems — and us, the public. We'll also show off some new tools for reporting on the state of our surface waters and the aquifers beneath our feet.

Moderator: Cynthia Barnett, Author, "Mirage: Florida and the Vanishing Water of the Eastern U.S.," "Blue Revolution: Unmaking America's Water Crisis" and "Rain: A Natural and Cultural History" (forthcoming, April 2015)

Jay Famiglietti, Senior Water Scientist, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, National Aeronautics and Space Administration and Professor of Earth System Science, School of Physical Sciences, University of California, Irvine
Christiana Peppard, Assistant Professor of Theology, Science and Ethics, Fordham University and Author, "Just Water: Theology, Ethics and the Global Water Crisis"
Matt Weiser, Senior Writer, Environment and Natural Resources, The Sacramento Bee

Location: Grand Salon, Room 12

Cleaning Up the Air and Carbon Too

Disputes brought by industry, environmental advocates and the states challenging Clean Air Act rules are a rich source for news stories. Join us in a discussion about the potential legal issues of the Obama administration’s proposal to regulate GHGs from power plants and recent court decisions in Clean Air Act cases involving GHG permits for stationary sources and EPA efforts to address air pollution that crosses state lines, reduce mercury and other air toxics, implement stricter air quality standards and enforce existing rules. Learn from panelists the broad implications of these rules on state governments, the economy and the environment, plus what legal issues, unresolved or new, must be sorted out.

Moderator: Carolyn Whetzel, Staff Correspondent, Bloomberg BNA

Richard Alonso, Environmental Strategies Group, Bracewell & Giuliani LLP
Vicki Arroyo, Executive Director, Georgetown Climate Center, Georgetown Law
William Becker, Executive Director, National Association of Clean Air Agencies
Vickie Patton, General Counsel, Environmental Defense Fund

Location: Grand Salon, Room 6

Turning Trees into Wood Pellets: Biomass Energy and Southern Forest Health

Ambitious goals set in Europe for reducing greenhouse gas emissions have led to a huge increase in shipments of wood pellets used to fuel power plants that once burned coal. Much of that wood is coming from North America, especially the southeastern United States where forests are plentiful and regulations are lax. But can the region’s forests sustain the demand from Europe? And what will be the effects on wildlife habitat, water and forest resources?

Moderator: Bruce Ritchie, Editor,

Janaki Alavalapati, Professor and Head, Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation, College of Natural Resources and Environment, Virginia Tech
Seth Ginther, Executive Director, U.S. Industrial Pellet Association and Attorney/Co-Managing Partner, Energy and Infrastructure Group, Hirschler Fleischer
Danna Smith, Executive Director, Dogwood Alliance

Location: Grand Salon, Room 9

Children’s Environmental Health: Latest Trends

Because children are uniquely vulnerable to environmental contaminants, research into children's environmental health provides vital insights into health effects of chemical exposure. Given that children's health is of universal concern, efforts to protect children's health have also been a driver of public policy. From a journalism perspective, it also offers an answer to the perennial editorial question of "Why would our audience care?" On this panel, leading experts in environmental health science and policy will discuss cutting-edge issues in children's environmental health, highlighting stories that need telling and new ways of engaging the public on these issues.

Moderator: Elizabeth Grossman, Freelance Journalist

Rhitu Chatterjee, Reporter, PRI's The World
Bruce Lanphear, Professor, Faculty of Health Sciences, Simon Fraser University
John McLachlan, Celia Scott Weatherhead and Albert J. Weatherhead III Distinguished Chair in Environmental Studies; Professor, Department of Pharmacology, School of Medicine; and Adjunct Professor, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, School of Science and Engineering, Tulane University
Nsedu Witherspoon, Executive Director, Children’s Environmental Health Network

Location: Grand Salon, Room 3


Beverage Break with Exhibitors

10:15 - 10:45 a.m.

Location: Grand Salon


Concurrent Sessions 4

10:45 a.m. - Noon

Are Those Your Jammies? Writer/Editor Relationships in the Wifi Age

Remember that great scene in "All the President's Men" when Ben Bradlee shouts "Woodstein!" to his intrepid reporters typing away in the middle of the newsroom? Nowadays he'd Gchat or Skype with them instead. As more newsrooms go virtual and freelancers work with editors they've only ever met via email or a webcam, how is the relationship between journalism professionals changing, and does it affect the way we're keeping readers informed? Learn some smart strategies that disconnected reporters and editors can use to keep in touch and develop a strong virtual working relationship. Bonus: Find out which of our intrepid panelists can spend a whole day working without ever taking off the sweatpants.

Moderator: Scott Dodd, Editorial Director, Natural Resources Defense Council

Lindsey Konkel, Staff Writer, Environmental Health News
Timothy Morris, Metro News Manager, | The Times-Picayune
Michelle Nijhuis, Independent Journalist

Location: Grand Salon, Room 4

Seed-by-Seed: Funding the Freelance Life

Join two accomplished freelance journalists as they share their experiences pursuing stories about the environment and finding the editors and organizations — both in the US and internationally — to help fund those stories. Learn about collaborative funding, subscriber driven, nonprofit sources, grants, fellowships, book publishing, speaking, and new long-form publishing models. Look also for truth talk about the Venn diagram of freelancing, where some projects are for money, some for prestige, and some for passion. It's OK to support your journalism habit with other forms of research, editing, teaching, or writing — as long as you make careful ethical decisions about each project. Joining smaller writers' groups online also helps for brainstorming, resources, and editor-contact sharing. Bird-by-bird is how the stories get written. Seed-by-seed is how we financially feed the precarious life of a freelance journalist.

Erica Gies, Freelance Environmental Journalist
Meera Subramanian, Independent Journalist

Location: Grand Salon, Room 10

Environment Journalism Revolution in the Classroom

Innovative academics are making a revolution when it comes to teaching environmental journalism. Hear how journalism professors in small and large programs are using technology to train students for multi-platform environmental journalism. Also, learn how academics are using new media for both reporting and for providing an outlet for student work. This is a "grab bag" session that will also explore field trips for fledgling environmental reporters, experiences that include scaling power plants, zip-lining through the rain forest, kayaking rivers or just wading through the local creek. Bring your own tips and ideas for a revolutionary exchange on what's happening now in environmental journalism instruction.

Moderator: Don Corrigan, Professor of Media Law, Global and Environmental Journalism, Department of Communications and Journalism, Webster University - St. Louis

Annie-Laurie Blair, Freelance Journalist and Clinical Professor of Journalism, Miami University of Ohio
Marc Seamon, Assistant Professor of Journalism, Department of English, College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, Youngstown State University
Sara Shipley Hiles, Freelance Journalist and Assistant Professor, School of Journalism, University of Missouri
Robert Wyss, Associate Professor of Journalism, Department of Journalism, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, University of Connecticut

Location: Grand Salon, Room 13

BP Spill — The People: Health Studies and Claims Programs

We'll examine the NIEHS worker study, other health studies, creation of clinics by claims program, status of health claims payments and more.

Moderator: Rebecca Catalanello, Health Reporter, | The Times-Picayune

George Barisich, President, United Commercial Fishermen's Association and Board Member, Louisiana Shrimp Association
James Diaz, Professor, Department of Environmental Sciences, and Program Director, Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences Program, Health Sciences Center, School of Public Health, Louisiana State University
Emily Harville, Associate Professor, Department of Epidemiology, School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, Tulane University
Patrick Juneau, Attorney and Claims Administrator, BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill

Location: Grand Salon, Room 7

Everglades Restoration Update: Billions Spent, But Will It Do Any Good?

Once hailed as the largest ecosystem restoration in history, the Everglades Restoration has run into bureaucratic bungling, budgetary shortfalls and political grandstanding. Yet it's beginning to show some progress in repairing the River of Grass — amid questions about whether climate change could make it all moot.

Moderator: Craig Pittman, Reporter, St. Petersburg Times

John Adornato III, Regional Director, Sun Coast Regional Office, National Parks Conservation Association and former Co-Chair, Everglades Coalition
Nicholas Aumen, Regional Science Advisor - South Florida, U.S. Geological Survey
Howard Gonzales Jr., Ecosystem Branch Chief, Jacksonville District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Julie Hill-Gabriel, Attorney and Director of Everglades Policy, Audubon Florida

Location: Grand Salon, Room 12

Waste in the 21st Century

Exposure to polluted soil, water and air killed 8.4 million people in 2012, according to an analysis using World Health Organization data, more than any other cause of death in the developing world and three times more people than died from HIV, malaria and tuberculosis combined. Yet many of the sources and industrial processes that caused it remain underreported. Experts from both the environmental community and industry will lead a robust discussion of how E-waste, rare earth mining, plastics, and oil and gas waste and other sources of pollution present significant and new challenges to air, water, land and health in the years ahead.

Moderator: Abrahm Lustgarten, Energy Reporter, ProPublica

Jack Caravanos, Associate Professor, School of Public Health, Hunter College, City University of New York and Senior Science Advisor, Blacksmith Institute
Tom Carpenter, Director of Sustainability Services, Waste Management, Inc.
Kate Sinding, Senior Attorney, Natural Resources Defense Council

Location: Grand Salon, Room 6

ObamaAir: Greenhouse Gases, Clean Coal, Pollution Trading and Carbon Caps

From the public health impacts of new diseases moving northward to farmers' use of crop insurance to compensate for changes in the conditions for growing food, the impact of fossil fuels on the atmosphere is costing taxpayers billions of dollars. After decades of discounted and subsidized energy, how do we devise a price for carbon which ensures that the consequences of climate change are paid by those responsible, and actually triggers a significant shift away from fossil fuels? We’ll consider these and related regulatory and financial questions as we dive into the premier economic challenge of our time.

Moderator: Mark Schapiro, Journalist; Author, "Carbon Shock;" Adjunct Professor, Graduate School of Journalism, University of California, Berkeley; and former Senior Correspondent, Center for Investigative Reporting

Gary Gero, President, Climate Action Reserve
Patrick Parenteau, Professor of Law and Senior Counsel, Environmental and Natural Resources Law Clinic, Vermont Law School
Mark Trexler, Chief Executive Officer, The Climatographers

Location: Grand Salon, Room 9

Climate Change Mitigation, Adaptation and Geoengineering: What’s Being Done, Can Be Done, Won’t Be Done?

Go past the politics of climate change and get practical: Learn what's technologically feasible in remaking our energy systems and slowing global warming. Find out what can make our cities and natural areas more resilient to the climate change impacts that are coming. And explore the potential — and risks — of climate engineering on a planetary scale.

Moderator: Adam Glenn, Educator, Graduate School of Journalism, City University of New York; Digital Media Consultant, a2g Media; Editor, SEJournal, Society of Environmental Journalists; Editor, AdaptNY

Doug Beard, Chief, National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center, U.S. Geological Survey; Director of Science Activities, Climate Science Centers, U.S. Department of the Interior
Emmanuel Guerin, Associate Director, Sustainable Development Solutions Network, United Nations; Manager, Deep Decarbonization Pathways Project; Senior Staff Associate, Earth Institute, Columbia University
Jane Long, Senior Contributing Scientist, Environmental Defense Fund; Visiting Researcher, University of California, Berkeley; Co-Chair, Task Force on Geoengineering, Bipartisan Policy Center; Chairman, California's Energy Future Committee, California Council on Science and Technology
Alex Washburn, Founding Director, Center for Coastal Resilience and Urban Xcellence, Stevens Institute of Technology; Author, "The Nature of Urban Design"

Location: Grand Salon, Room 3


Lunch and Plenary Session

Real Risk and Resilience in a Climate-Changed World

Noon - 2:00 p.m.

From Katrina to Sandy, polar melting to equatorial desertification, we’ll explore how climate change will increase and alter environmental risks in the near future. A panel of experts will discuss governments’ and industries’ plans to prepare for more frequent and more severe natural disasters, and how to minimize the environmental effects of energy extraction, whether from shale formations or deep drilling in the Gulf, with a special focus on vulnerable coastal cities like New Orleans.

Moderator: John Schwartz, National Correspondent, The New York Times

Margaret Davidson, Senior Advisor for Coastal Inundation and Resilience Science and Services, National Ocean Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Gerald Galloway Jr., Research Professor, Glenn L. Martin Institute Professor of Engineering, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Maryland
Major General John Peabody, Deputy Commanding General for Civil and Emergency Operations, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and former Mississippi Valley Division Commander and President, Mississippi River Commission
David Pritchard, Successful Energy Practices International and Deepwater Horizon Study
U.S. Congressman Steve Scalise, House Majority Whip, Republican, Louisiana (invited)
U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, Democrat, Rhode Island (invited)

Location: Grand Ballroom


Mini-Tour Adventures

2:15 - 5:30 p.m.

Sign up on-site at the SEJ Information Table beginning Wednesday afternoon for SEJ’s popular mini-tours. Consult your Mini-tour flyer in your conference packet for details. Additional flyers are available at the SEJ Information Table.

Departure: Buses will stage and depart from the Hilton New Orleans Riverside just outside from SEJ Registration on Side Drive. Exit through the doors between the Gift Shop and escalators. Buses will line up on Side Drive in numeric order, so note the number of your tour. SEJ staff will be on hand to help you find your bus.

  1. Kayaking New Orleans

    Tour Leader: Zoë Schlanger, Reporter, Newsweek

    Speakers: TBA

    Attendee Cap:

  2. Legacy Lead and Environmental Justice
    During the mid-1970s, the U.S. began to phase lead out of automobile gasoline. In 1978, it banned the toxic heavy metal from house paint. Yet lead still lingers across the country — lacing the soil, contaminating house dust and hiding within layers of old paint. New Orleans is a tragic case in point. Hurricane Katrina and a trend in home renovations has stirred up legacy lead. This tour will visit affected sites, including a public housing project, childcare playground and community garden. We will learn about the disproportionate burden of lead on the poor, hear some success stories and examine just how much work still needs to be done to protect public health.

    Tour Leaders:
    Brian Bienkowski, Senior Editor and Staff Writer, Environmental Health News
    Lynne Peeples, Environment and Public Health Reporter, The Huffington Post

    Howard Mielke, Research Professor, Department of Pharmacology, School of Medicine, Tulane University
    Emily Mickley-Doyle, Director, SPROUT NOLA
    Felicia Rabito, Associate Professor, Department of Epidemiology, School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, Tulane University
    Lynn Rivers, Co-Owner, Kids Kingdom Academy Daycare

    Attendee Cap:

  3. Green Buildings and Urban Gardening

    Tour Leaders:
    Francesca Lyman, Freelance Journalist
    Charlotte Kidd, Freelance Journalist

    Speakers: TBA

    Attendee Cap:

  4. Endangered Species Breeding Center

    Tour Leaders:
    Anne Paine, Reporter, The Tennessean (retired)
    Sarah Webb, Freelance Journalist

    Speakers: TBA

    Attendee Cap: 25

  5. Newsroom

    Tour Leaders:
    Mark Lorando, Director of Metro Content, NOLA Media Group
    Karen Schaefer, Freelance Journalist and Independent Radio Producer

    Speakers: TBA

    Attendee Cap:

  6. Biking the Big Easy

    Tour Leader: Chuck Quirmbach, 
Environment Reporter/Producer, 
Wisconsin Public Radio

    Speakers: TBA

    Attendee Cap:

  7. Scrapyards and Recycling

    Tour Leaders:
    Kent Kiser, Publisher, Scrap Magazine, Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, Inc.
    Sarah Terry-Cobo, Energy Reporter, The Journal Record

    Speakers: TBA

    Attendee Cap:


SEJ Party at the Rock 'n' Bowl

7:00 - 11:00 p.m.

Good food and great music help to define all that is New Orleans, and Saturday night we’ll have a large portion of both on tap! Join us for a fun night at the legendary Rock 'n' Bowl, where we’ll eat some Crawfish Etouffee in what’s likely the only place in the country where you can bowl, dance and eat, all at the same time. We’ll have ten lanes open for bowling, and rhythm and blues music from the New Orleans Nightcrawlers, a local favorite with a big brass sound. Reflecting the conference theme of Risk and Resilience, the Rock 'n' Bowl not only survived Katrina, but came out of it stronger than ever. Learn their story, and just have a rockin' good time with us Saturday night. Preregistration and $35 fee required.

Logistics: Shuttle buses will stage and depart from the Hilton New Orleans Riverside just outside from SEJ Registration on Side Drive beginning about 6:30 p.m. Exit through the doors between the Gift Shop and escalators. Buses will continue to loop between the Hilton and the Rock 'n' Bowl until final bus departs Rock 'n' Bowl at 11:00 p.m.





Wednesday, September 3
Thursday, September 3
Friday, September 5
Sunday, September 7