SEJ's 22nd Annual Conference Coverage




conference coverage



Agenda Coverage Lodging/Transportation Exhibits/Receptions Environmental News About Lubbock


SEJ's 22nd annual conference, October 17-21, 2012, was hosted by Texas Tech University. Below, you'll find multimedia coverage provided by SEJ, volunteers and conference attendees. For other coverage, see also:

Thank you to all our volunteer writers, recorders and photographers — you are invaluable!

SEJ member Talli Nauman (left) and septuagenarian Arizona rancher Valer Austin at the opening reception. Photo © Lindsey Hoshaw,

It's critically important to SEJ to gather evidence on the impact of our work. Please help us to keep SEJ strong and share links, photos, copies of reporting generated or informed by this conference! Thanks!!! Contact Cindy MacDonald, SEJ's Web content manager.

Page Menu

Wednesday, October 17
Thursday, October 18
Friday, October 19
Saturday, October 20
Sunday, October 21
Miscellaneous conference coverage
Lubbock and area environmental stories





Wednesday, October 17


Photo © Lindsey Hoshaw,

Opening Reception and Dinner at the Overton


  • Audio file (MP3/01:06:58). [NB: Because of a recording problem, the tail end of Valer Austin's speech is omitted from this sound file].
  • See more photographs of the opening night festivities here on Flickr.
  • Session description.




Thursday, October 18



Carlsbad's Bat Flight Amphitheater. Photo © Marina Fisher-Phelps. See more of Marina's photos here.

Tour 1: From Stones to the Stars at Carlsbad Caverns National Park




Tour 3: From Nuclear Enrichment to Nuclear Waste



Photo © Greg Harman, San Antonio Current.

Tour 4: "Clean" Coal and Environmental Justice in a West Texas Town



Tour 5: Oil and Gas and Lizards: Hydraulic Fracturing 2.0


Through the exhaust of a 737 jetliner, oil wells, marked by moats that store water raised by the drilling and fracking process, mark the Texas surface like a printed circuit board laid over fields and residential developments. Photo © John Messeder,



Farmer Glenn Schur talks to a group of journalists about growing cotton in the Texas High Plains. Photo © Brett Walton/Circle of Blue.

Tour 6: Reading Our Future in the Sands of Canyon Country







Tour 7: Where's the Beef?



Tour 8: Finding Water Where It Ain't



Friday, October 19


Welcome from Dr. Lawrence Schovaneck, Interim President of Texas Tech



L-R: Michael Hawthorne (replaced ABC News' Bill Blakemore who had to cancel unexpectedly), Max Boykoff, Peter Sinclair. Photo © Lindsey Hoshaw,

Breakfast Plenary — Is Communicating Climate Change a Lost Cause?



L-R: Andrew Sharpless, Christy George (moderator), Chris Funk, Helene York, Dick Auld. Photo © Lindsey Hoshaw,

Opening Plenary — Land, Water and People: It’s the Food, Stupid!






Concurrent Sessions 1


  • NOTE: We experienced major technical issues during the first round of concurrent sessions. As a result, only incomplete audio files are available for THE WATER and THE LAND. No audios are available for the rest of the first round of concurrent sessions.


Concurrent Session 1: THE CRAFT: Freelance Pitch Slam



Concurrent Session 1: THE NATION: Fracking May Divide Your Town Next. But What's the State of the Science?



Concurrent Session 1: THE WATER: Squeezing Blood from a Desert: Western Water Management



Concurrent Session 1: THE GLOBE: Women, Water and Health: From Dirty Wells to Endocrine Disruptors



Concurrent Session 1: THE LAND: Native America Goes to Court to Protect Land and Resources



Concurrent Session 1: THE ECONOMY: Native America Goes to Court to Protect Land and Resources



Lunch Breakout Session 1: BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill at Two: The Legal, Environmental and Social Legacy of the Nation’s Largest Oil Spill



Lunch Breakout Session 2: Poisons in the News: Toxicology and the Media



Network Lunch 9: Facts Gone Wild: Applying Journalistic Rules and Ethics to Outdoor Writing



Concurrent Session 2: THE CRAFT: Using Imagery To Tell Environmental Stories



Concurrent Session 2: THE NATION: Money as Sustainable Fuel: Driving Politics and Environmental Policy



Concurrent Session 2: THE WATER: A Price on Water: Privatization of the Top Liquid Asset



USGS National Wildlife Health Center director Jonathan Sleeman and TTU Climate Science Center director Katharine Hayhoe. Photo courtesy USGS.

Concurrent Session 2: THE GLOBE: Going to Extremes: Human Health on a Warmer Planet



Concurrent Session 2: THE LAND: Coppering Bets Against Climate Change: Facing Uncertainty in Agricultural and Forest Systems



Concurrent Session 2: THE ECONOMY: Great Plains Perspectives on Transboundary Tar



Saturday, October 20


Breakfast Breakout Session 1: Big Weather: A Guide to Explaining Extreme Weather to Your Audience



Breakfast Breakout Session 2: Book-Writing in the New Media Landscape



Breakfast Breakout Session 3: Managing Chemicals Globally: A Policy Perspective



Concurrent Session 3: THE CRAFT: Including Diverse Voices in Environmental Stories



Concurrent Session 3: THE NATION: People, Polls, Politics and the Environment



L-R: George Madhavan with the Singapore Public Utilities Board came farther than any other panelist to be with us for SEJ's 22nd annual conference. Next is Ron Wildermuth of the West Basin Municipal Water District; moderator/SEJ member Cynthia Barnett; and USF Professor Daniel Yeh. Photo courtesy Cynthia Barnett,

Concurrent Session 3: THE WATER: Reusing Wastewater: From Drought Woes to Faucet Flows



Concurrent Session 3: THE LAND: The "Fabric of Our Lives" and the Life of the Land



Concurrent Session 3: THE ECONOMY: Green Businesses: The Bottom Line on Tackling Sustainability



Concurrent Session 4: THE CRAFT: Academics and College Newspapers



Concurrent Session 4: THE WATER: The Clean Water Act at 40: Under-enforced and out of Date — and a Story for You!



Concurrent Session 4: THE GLOBE: Environmental Injustice: Industrial Hazards in Border Cities



Concurrent Session 4: THE LAND: The New Age of Ag: From Biofuels and GMOs to Sustainability and Supply Chains



Concurrent Session 4: THE ECONOMY: Nanotech Update: Economic Boon or Environmental Bane?



Lunch and Plenary Session — Election 2012 and the Environment



Mini-Tour 4: Pesticides: Agricultural Use, Environmental Impact, Health Effects



© Photo courtesy Allie Wilkinson.

Mini-Tour 5: Sustainable Ag and Crops of the Future







Sunday, October 21


Silent Spring at 50: Rachel Carson and Environmental Reporting Today



Miscellaneous conference coverage:


"Texas Tech to Host Society of Environmental Journalists Conference," Texas Tech Today, October 15, 2012, by John Davis.

"Texas Tech, Society of Environmental Journalists Host Green Car Show," TTU TechAnnounce, October 16, 2012.

"Lubbock, Texas Tech to host SEJ Conference," Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, October 16, 2012, by Ellysa Gonzalez.

"The Society of Environmental Journalists Annual Conference," NORC at the University of Chicago, October 16, 2012.

"Fly me to the moon," Watchdog Earth blog, The (Louisville) Courier-Journal, October 17, 2012, by James Bruggers.

"22nd annual SEJ Conference comes to Lubbock Wednesday," The Daily Toreador, October 17, 2012, by Caitlan Osborn.

"Will Economic Growth Destroy The Environment — Or Save It?" Forbes online, October 17, 2012, by David Ferris.

"Journalists, experts from around U.S. arrive for environmental journalism conference," Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, October 17, 2012, by Ellysa Gonzalez.

"SEJ to host Green Car Show through week," Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, October 18, 2012.

"EOL Attends the Society of Environmental Journalists Annual Meeting," Encyclopedia of Life, October 18, 2012.

"SEJ goes green with friendly vehicle conference," Fox 34 News Lubbock, October 19, 2012.

"Everything’s Bigger... in Lubbock?" Gina Cook, October 20, 2012.

"Texas Style State of the World," Opinion Forum, October 22, 2012, by Jan Barry.

"Wrap Up: Society of Environmental Journalists 2012," October 23, 2012, by Sarah Alban.

"Issues in West Texas Follow Journalist Back to Florida,", November 1, 2012, by Bruce Ritchie.

"Society of Environmental Journalists Conference Showcases Texas Tech, West Texas," Texas Tech Today, November 6, 2012, by John Davis.

"Climate Change Threatens to Create a Second Dust Bowl," Scientific American, November 27, 2012, by Melissa Gaskill.

The Texas Observer published on December 11, 2012 a deeply flawed story about SEJ's 2012 conference. Please see SEJ's formal response through letters to the Observer's editor and publisher, from SEJ President Don Hopey and Board Member Roger Witherspoon, setting the record straight.


Lubbock and area environmental stories:


"Methane found in drinking water across Texas brings concern to Lubbock"
"Hydraulic fracturing contaminating the drinking water is a concern to the Lubbock community." By Ariel Kirkland, Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, October 20, 2012.

"Texas landowners take a rare stand against Big Oil"
TransCanada raises ire of normally oil-friendly Texans for behaving "like an arrogant foreigner". By Ramit Plushnick-Masti (co-leader of Thursday tour, Finding Water Where It Ain't), The Associated Press, October 17, 2012.

"Dallas County Allows Aerial Spraying for 1st Time in Decades To Fight West Nile Virus Outbreak"
"Suffering from the nation's deadliest outbreak of West Nile virus this year, Dallas County authorized aerial spraying of insecticide on Friday for the first time in nearly five decades to help fight the mosquito-born illness." By Danny Robbins, The Associated Press via Yahoo! News, August 11, 2012.

"Cross-border Pollution Pact To Be Signed"
"An eight-year environmental pact to reduce air, water and chemical pollution along the U.S.-Mexico border will be signed by dignitaries from both countries, Environmental Protection Agency officials said Tuesday." By Gary Martin, San Antonio Express-News, August 7, 2012.

"Galveston: Rising Gulf, Coastal Erosion Complicate Development Planning"
"Work was scarce for architect David Mullican and many Galveston Island builders after hurricane Ike. As damages were assessed, insurance claims disputed and homes were repaired piecemeal, Mullican was out of work for more than a year." By David Barer, Texas Climate News, August 6, 2012.

"Texans Sickened by 'Accidental' Gas, Oil, Chemical Emissions"
"Flares, leaking pipelines and tanks emitted 92,000 tons of toxic chemicals into the air during accidents, break-downs and maintenance at Texas oil and gas facilities, refineries and petrochemical plants over the past three years, finds a report released today by the nonprofit Environmental Integrity Project, EIP." By Environment News Service, July 18, 2012.

"Texas Judge Rules Atmosphere, Air Is Public Trust"
"A Texas judge has ruled that the atmosphere and air must be protected for public use, just like water, which could help attorneys tasked with arguing climate change lawsuits designed to force states to cut emissions." By Ramit Plushnick-Masti, AP via The Dallas Morning News, July 11, 2012.

"Global Warming Makes Heat Waves More Likely, Study Finds"
"Some of the weather extremes bedeviling people around the world have become far more likely because of human-induced global warming, researchers reported on Tuesday....A new study found that global warming made the severe heat wave that afflicted Texas last year 20 times as likely as it would have been in the 1960s." By Justin Gillis, The New York Times, July 10, 2012.

"Drought Caused Big Drop in Texas Portion of Ogallala"
"The 16-county High Plains Underground Water Conservation District reported this week that its monitoring wells showed an average decline last year of 2.56 feet.... Farmers pumped more water during the drought to compensate for the lack of rainfall, which was about two-thirds less than normal last year in Lubbock and Amarillo." By Kate Galbraith, The Texas Tribune, July 3, 2012.

"50,000 Sue BP Over Air Emissions Event"
"More than 50,000 people have sued BP over a 2010 emissions event at its Texas City refinery that sent more than 500,000 pounds of chemicals into the air. Court officials said the number of plaintiffs tops the number who filed legal action against the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association after Hurricane Ike." By T.J. Aulds, The (Galveston) Daily News, June 14, 2012.

"Conservation Deal Keeps Sand Dune Lizard off U.S. Endangered List"
"U.S. officials ruled on Wednesday that a tiny lizard would be kept off the endangered species list after agreements with Texas and New Mexico landowners intended to protect its habitat and preserve oil and gas production in the region." By Jim Forsyth, Reuters, June 14, 2012. [See Thursday Tour 5: Oil and Gas and Lizards: Hydraulic Fracturing 2.0]

"Texas' Water Woes Spark Interest in Desalination"
"Drilling rigs in the midst of cow pastures are hardly a novelty for Texans. But on a warm May day at a site about 30 miles south of San Antonio, a rig was not trying to reach oil or fresh water, but rather something unconventional: a salty aquifer." By Kate Galbraith, The Texas Tribune, June 10, 2012.

"EPA: Texas pollution feud will continue, despite Armendariz's resignation"
"The resignation of EPA Region 6 Administrator Al Armendariz has not resolved much. Conflicts over oil-industry pollution and whether laws against it should be enforced remain intense in parts of Texas where people are making money from the pollution while others fear they are being made sick by it." By Gabriel Nelson, Greenwire, May 1, 2012.

"Growth Prospects for Uranium Stir Concerns"
"At the back of a South Texas uranium processing facility, a few dozen black container drums stood outside, waiting to be shipped. Each was filled with about $50,000 worth of yellowcake, a powdery substance created from raw uranium. 'That's pretty close to a Lexus in every drum,' said Gregory Kroll... ." By Kate Galbraith, The Texas Tribune, April 14, 2012.

"Cleanup Starts After Tornadoes Tear Through Dallas-Fort Worth Area"
"Cleanup efforts began in Texas on Tuesday after tornadoes ripped through the Dallas-Fort Worth area, tossing tractor-trailers like toys, forcing airlines to cancel flights and causing widespread damage." By CNN Wire Staff, This Just In blog,, April 4, 2012.

"Drought's Toll on Texas' Urban Forest: Up to 5.6 Million Trees and Counting"
"About 5.6 million trees in cities and towns across Texas were killed by last year's record-setting drought, the Texas Forest Service has estimated after studying before-and-after satellite imagery." By SEJ member Bill Dawson, Texas Climate News, February 16, 2012.

"Texas Tech Scientist Sees Intimidation Effort Behind Barrage of Hate Mail"
"Hate mail in the inbox has been an occupational hazard for climate scientists in the public eye for some time now....Lately, it has been Texas Tech University professor Katharine Hayhoe's turn to be on the receiving end of an avalanche of venomous emails." By SEJ member Bill Dawson, Texas Climate News, January 30, 2012.


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