SEJ's 23rd Annual Conference Agenda — Thursday




Day Tours
Independent Hospitality Receptions
Exhibit Sneak Peek
Bookstore with Book Signing
An Evening with Aldo




Agenda Coverage Lodging/Travel Exhibits/Receptions Environmental News About Chattanooga


Thursday, October 3, 2013


Tour bus staging, registration and SEJ table for sign-ups, as well as evening receptions, will be held at the Chattanooga Convention Center, 1150 Carter Street, Chattanooga.

Note: All information is subject to change. Please check back often for updates and information on event times, speakers, etc.


6:00 - 10:00 a.m. and 12:00 noon - 5:00 p.m.

Sign up for Mini-Tours at the nearby SEJ table. If you didn’t sign up ahead of time for a Thursday tour, Friday dinner and tour of the Tennessee Aquarium, or Sunday morning breakfast, there may still be room — please check with registration.

Location: At the Information booth near the ballroom

SEJ Information Table

All day

Sign up here for Mini-Tours. Read up on SEJ Board candidates, and find information about SEJ Award winners, membership and services. Pick up copies of SEJournal, and other SEJ information.

Location: Outside Meeting Room 1

Day Tours (in the field)

Advance registration and a fee are required for all Thursday tours. Registered tour attendees should report to the staging area no later than 15 minutes before their scheduled departure time. All tours depart promptly at times listed below and return to the Chattanooga Convention Center about 5:00 p.m.

Buses will stage and depart from the Chattanooga Convention Center outside Meeting Room 1 on Carter Street. Stop by registration near the ballroom to pick up your conference materials, then exit through the doors near Meeting Room 1.

Due to morning-of cancellations or available space, some tours may be able to take standby passengers. Standby passengers should report 15 minutes prior to departure and have the tour fee available. Standby passengers will be admitted on a first-come/first-served basis, after those already on a waiting list. 

A cash-and-carry breakfast kiosk will be set up in the departure area from 6:00 - 10:00 a.m. For those looking for a full breakfast, the Marriott at the Convention Center's Terrace Grille and the Lookout Café coffee shop open at 6:30 a.m.

SEJ tours are sponsored by the Chattanooga Times Free Press Foundation.

1. Old King Coal: Cradle to Grave

(6:30 a.m. departure, $40 fee, lunch included)

TVA’s Kingston Fossil Plant.

Coal has kept us warm, given us light and fueled our manufacturing, but not without costs that aren’t listed on electric bills and often aren’t considered during energy policy debates. In East Tennessee, the 2008 collapse of a coal-ash impoundment near TVA’s Kingston Fossil Plant provided a vivid glimpse of the “grave” part of coal’s life cycle. More than a billion gallons of slushy coal ash spilled over farms and homes and into area waterways. The incident highlighted the lack of comprehensive federal regulations governing the handling and disposal of coal ash — a problem the Obama administration promised to address, but has yet to act upon. We’ll visit the Kingston site to see the mammoth engineering and progress on the cleanup and hear what experts on all sides of this issue have to say about what is — and isn’t — being done about the coal-ash problem. Total drive time – 4 hours. Coverage.

Tour Leaders:
Sara Shipley Hiles, Freelance Journalist and Assistant Professor, Missouri School of Journalism
Patrick Smith, Photographer/Videographer, Chattanooga Times Free Press

Lisa Evans, Senior Administrative Counsel, Earthjustice
Angela Garrone, Southeast Energy Research Attorney, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy
Chris Irwin, Attorney (represents United Mountain Defense)
Donna Lisenby, Upper Watauga Riverkeeper, Waterkeeper Alliance
J.W. Randolph, Tennessee Director, Appalachian Voices
Steve Scarborough, Area Resident/Property Owner
Eugene Trisko, Counsel to United Mine Workers of America
Shea Tuberty, Associate Professor of Biology, College of Arts and Sciences, Appalachian State University
Tennessee Valley Authority representatives TBA
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency representative TBA


2. Oak Ridge National Lab: Nuclear Legacy and Cutting Edge Research

(7:00 a.m. departure, $40 fee, lunch included)

Photo courtesy Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

ORNL was built almost overnight as part of WWII’s Manhattan Project in a daring endeavor that helped win the war and usher in the atomic age. ORNL is now the Department of Energy’s largest open-science laboratory. We’ll explore the Manhattan Project’s environmental legacy and fast forward to a firsthand look at cutting-edge nuclear energy and environmental research. We’ll hear about an international fusion reactor experiment and light-water reactor modeling for predicting safety issues at nuclear power plants. We’ll also learn about research investigating climate change impacts on permafrost and plant ecosystems and visit test labs for emerging energy efficient building, transportation, and manufacturing technologies. Total drive time – 4 hours.

Tour Leaders:
Kris Christen, Science Writer, University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Tom Henry, Environmental Writer-Columnist, The (Toledo) Blade

Chad Duty, Group Leader, Manufacturing Demonstration Facility, Oak Ridge National Laboratory
James Hack, Director, Climate Change Science Institute, Oak Ridge National Laboratory; and Director, National Center for Computational Sciences, ORNL
Patrick Hughes, Director, Building Technologies Research and Integration Center, Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Colleen Iversen, Ecosystem Ecologist, Spruce and Peatland Responses Under Climatic and Environmental Change (SPRUCE) Project, Oak Ridge National Laboratory
David Lochbaum, Director, Nuclear Safety Project, Union of Concerned Scientists
Richard Norby, Physiological Ecologist, SPRUCE Project, Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Ramamoorthy Ramesh, Deputy Director, Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Ned Sauthoff, Project Manager, U.S. ITER Project, Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Stephen Stow, Geochemist (retired); former Earth Sciences Section Head, Oak Ridge National Laboratory; and former Director, American Museum of Science and Energy
John Turner, Group Leader, Computational Engineering & Energy Sciences, Computing & Computational Sciences Directorate, Oak Ridge National Laboratory; and Chief Computational Scientist, Consortium for the Advanced Simulation of LWRs, ORNL
Jack Wells, Director of Science, National Center for Computational Sciences, Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Stan Wullschleger, Project Director, Next-Generation Ecosystem Experiments: Arctic, Oak Ridge National Laboratory


3. Chattanooga: From Gritty City to Green-Manufacturing Hub

(7:30 a.m. departure, $40 fee, lunch included)

Photo courtesy Chattanooga Area CVB. Click to enlarge.

Chattanooga, a city once known for its pollution, had the nation’s dirtiest air in 1969, and some of the most tainted streams. During the last two decades, however, local leaders worked to re-invent the foundry town into “Scenic City,” spending millions to clean up its air and water and attract greener manufacturers. We’ll tour Volkswagen’s platinum-LEED-certified auto plant and solar farm on a once-contaminated brownfield left from a U.S. Army TNT production site. We’ll see some remaining legacy challenges, experience before-and-after photos and stories, and examine futuristic technologies ranging from smart streetlights to tech startups relying on the fastest fiber-optic network in the nation. Total drive time – 1.5 hours. Coverage.

Tour Leaders:
Francesca Lyman, Freelance Journalist
Ellis Smith, Business Reporter, Chattanooga Times Free Press

David Borowski, Assistant Director, Environmental Epidemiology, Tennessee Department of Health
Wayne Cropp, President and Chief Executive Officer, The Enterprise Center
Troy Keith, Chattanooga Environmental Field Office Manager, Division of Remediation, Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation
Ron Littlefield, former Mayor of Chattanooga
Mike Mallen, Brownfield Developer and Attorney
Volkswagen representatives TBA


4. Biodiversity 1: From the Mountain Tops to the River Bottoms

Photo: U.S. Forest Service

(7:45 a.m. departure, $60 fee, lunch and snorkel gear included)

The abundance of aquatic life in the Conasauga River is evident the moment the facemask goes underwater. Since 2000, the U.S. Forest Service has provided guided snorkel trips on this clear mountain stream near the Tennessee-Georgia line. Surrounded by the Cherokee National Forest, the Conasauga is home to the Conasauga logperch, a tiny darter known only in a 12-to-20-mile stretch of the river. Snorkelers also can expect to see striped-neck turtles, banded sculpin and Tennessee shiners, whose streamlined bodies sparkle like mirrors. Experts from the Tennessee Aquarium and the Cherokee National Forest will be on hand to lead the snorkeling and talk about the region's world-famous aquatic biodiversity. The tour also will include hikes and birding tours along nearby national forest hiking trails. Total drive time – 3 hours. Coverage.

Tour Leaders:
John Manuel Jr., Freelance Writer
Morgan Simmons, Outdoor Writer, Knoxville News Sentinel

Kevin Calhoon, Assistant Curator of Forests, Tennessee Aquarium
Anna George, Director and Chief Research Scientist, Tennessee Aquarium Conservation Institute
Jim Herrig, Forest Aquatic Biologist, Cherokee National Forest
Bill Hodge, Director, Southern Appalachian Wilderness Stewards
Jeremy Monroe, Director, Freshwaters Illustrated


5. Energy Options: From Nukes to Hydro Storage

(8:00 a.m. departure, $40 fee, lunch included)

The Tennessee Valley Authority introduced electricity to the Southeast in the 1940s, beginning with the harnessing of the Tennessee River. There the movement of water is captured for electricity, flowing mile after mile through nine hydropower plants and dams. Along the way, the water in the 652-mile Tennessee River also cools six nuclear reactors (soon to be seven) at three different nuclear plants. We’ll visit the Sequoyah Nuclear Plant and the Chickamauga Dam and hydropower facility. We’ll hear about the Raccoon Mountain Pumped Storage facility, which helps TVA manage peak power demands, and we’ll learn how a utility serves seven states and gets power to nine million people in homes and businesses. Total drive time – 1.5 hours.

Tour Leaders:
Dave Flessner, Business Editor, Chattanooga Times Free Press
Roger Witherspoon, Reporter, Huffington Post/Environment; Energy Matters;

Fred Brown, Region 2 Deputy Administrator for Construction, Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Ann Harris, We the People, and former Tennessee Valley Authority employee
Stephen Smith, Executive Director, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy
Tennessee Valley Authority representatives TBA
Additional speakers TBA


6. Biodiversity 2: Threats and Opportunities on the Species-Rich Cumberland Plateau

(8:30 a.m. departure, $40 fee, lunch included)

Woolly Adelgid. Photo: U.S. Forest Service.

We’ll start at South Cumberland State Park’s Fiery Gizzard, where a small insect called the woolly adelgid threatens eastern hemlocks. Next up, Sewanee: The University of the South’s campus, a model for land stewardship in the region. With over 1,070 taxa of vascular plants on its 13,000 acres, Sewanee is one of the most biologically diverse campuses in the nation. We’ll visit the Landscape Analysis Laboratory and Herbarium to learn about exotic plants, deer overpopulation, regional habitat loss, and climate change, and we’ll hike to a rare stand of remaining old-growth forest. We’ll end the day at the proposed Paint Rock River National Wildlife Refuge to learn about the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s latest conservation efforts. Total drive time – 3.5 hours. Coverage.

Tour Leaders:
Duane Gang, Environmental Reporter, The (Nashville) Tennessean
Christine Woodside, Writer and Editor

Dwight Cooley, Project Leader, Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge Complex
Todd Crabtree, Botanist, Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation
Jon Evans, Assistant Provost for Environmental Stewardship and Sustainability, and Professor of Biology, Sewanee: The University of the South
David Haskell, Author, The Forest Unseen, and Professor of Biology, Sewanee: The University of the South


7. Fracking, Tennessee Style

(9:00 a.m. departure, $40 fee, lunch included)

Fracking has taken place occasionally and quietly in Tennessee for more than 60 years, but the practice has recently come under added scrutiny in the Volunteer State. Environmentalists say state rules put into place two years ago do not go far enough to regulate fracking in Tennessee. Concerns have arisen about clean water, earthquakes and property rights. Last year, the issue became even more divisive when the University of Tennessee publicly announced it was considering leasing land for the activity. While much fracking when drilling for natural gas or oil here is done without the massive quantities of water seen elsewhere, questions remain about what’s going down in the way of chemicals — and what’s released in the way of natural poisons — from arsenic to radio-nuclides. Learn more as we take a tour through Tennessee’s hills and hollows where fracking has taken place — or is under consideration. Discussion will include differences in fracking practices and state regulations across the country. Total drive time – 4 hours. Coverage.

Tour Leaders:
John Henry, Multimedia Journalist, WBIR-TV
Bobby Magill, Senior Science Writer, Climate Central

John Bonar, Engineer, Atlas Energy
Anne Davis, Managing Attorney, Nashville Office, Southern Environmental Law Center
Additional speakers TBA


Photo courtesy Chattanooga Convention & Visitors Bureau

8. The New Civil War:
The Struggle to Preserve History

(9:30 a.m. departure, $40 fee, lunch included)

Chattanooga was the scene 150 years ago of some of the bloodiest fighting in the Civil War, and it’s also home to the first and largest national park dedicated to remembering our nation’s defining conflict. We’ll stroll the battlefield at Chickamauga, scale Lookout Mountain, and learn about the region’s Paleolithic and American Indian inhabitants at Moccasin Bend. Along the way, we’ll explore the role historic preservation has played in the conservation movement, and hear about the modern-day threats these places of cultural and ecological significance face from suburban sprawl, shrinking public funding and their own popularity. Total drive time – 2.5 hours. Coverage.

Tour Leaders:
Randy Loftis, Environment Reporter, The Dallas Morning News
Tim Wheeler, Reporter, The Baltimore Sun

Shelley Andrews, Executive Director, Friends of Moccasin Bend National Park
Don Barger, Southeast Region Senior Director, National Parks Conservation Association
Daryl Black, Executive Director, Chattanooga History Center
Robyn Carlton, Chief Executive Officer, Lookout Mountain Conservancy
Cathleen Cook, Superintendent, Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park
Patrice Glass, Executive Director, Friends of the Park (Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park)
Nicholas Honerkamp, Professor, Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Geography, and Director, Institute of Archaeology, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
tom kunesh, Founding Member, Chattanooga InterTribal Association
Sam Smith, Education Coordinator, Civil War Trust
Rick Wood, Tennessee State Director, Trust for Public Land


9. How Sustainable Ag Feeds Sustainable Cities

(10:00 a.m. departure, $40 fee, lunch included)

We’ll start at Sequatchie Cove Farm, a family-owned sustainable farm in the Sequatchie Valley that produces meat and dairy products for local restaurants and markets. Then we head to Crabtree Farms, a nonprofit urban farm in Chattanooga. We’ll learn from local community leaders about urban agriculture and how community gardens here are helping provide variety and a local flair to many downtown restaurants. We’ll also see how urban agriculture plays an important role in the movement for food justice, building community resilience using food as the common bond. We’ll watch a clip from Gaining Ground, a new film featuring Urban Tilth, a network of 11 community gardens in the heart of an impoverished, violence-riddled food desert in Richmond, Calif. Total drive time – 2 hours. Coverage.

Tour Leaders:
Barbara Bernstein, Independent Producer
Amanda Womac, Freelance Science Writer

Joel Houser, Executive Director, Crabtree Farms
Andrea Jaeger, Program Coordinator, Crabtree Farms and Member, Board of Directors, Chattanooga Sustainable Farmers
Bill Keener, Owner and Farmer, Sequatchie Cove Farm
David Reed, Owner, Erma’s Bees


SEJ's Chattanooga conference will host the U.S. debut of the 261-mpg Volkswagen XL1 Plug-in Hybrid. The XL1 will be on display Thursday evening through Saturday afternoon. Photo courtesy Volkswagen.

Independent Hospitality Receptions

5:00 - 9:00 p.m.

A terrific chance to meet up with friends, old and new, and to meet with the independent hosts and hear about their environmental initiatives. Check your conference bag (or this web page) for a list of organizations and businesses ready to dispense great nibbles, quaffs and conversation. Sign up for test-drives of environmentally friendly vehicles and get the scoop on environmental issues from your independent reception hosts' experts.

Location: Exhibit Hall D


Exhibit Sneak Peek

5:00 - 9:00 p.m.

Browse through this year's exhibits that offer information on issues and solutions, fellowships, source lists and maybe even some fun give-aways.

Location: Exhibit Hall D and in the Main Hallway


Bookstore with Book Signing

5:00 - 9:00 p.m.

The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga bookstore will be open for business during the receptions. Stop by between 8:00 and 9:00 p.m. when authors will be on hand to sign their books.

Location: Exhibit Hall D


An Evening with Aldo

Jim Pfitzer as Aldo Leopold

9:00 - 10:00 p.m.

Set one evening at Aldo Leopold's famous Wisconsin Shack, this one-man show — A Standard of Change — explores the influences and challenges that led Leopold to pen his conservation classic A Sand County Almanac. As the lights come up, Leopold walks up the path. It has been 65 years since his death, and although his National Historic Landmark Shack is little changed, the landscape is hardly recognizable to him. Awaiting him are memories, surprises, challenges, and revelations. Leopold invites his audience to join him as he reacquaints himself with his beloved landscape, remembers influential friends and family, quotes from some of his most important writings, and ponders his legacy. Coverage.

Presenter: Jim Pfitzer, Storyteller, Writer, and Actor (Chattanooga)

Location: Chattanooga Convention Center Ballroom



Wednesday, October 2
Friday, October 4
Saturday, October 5
Sunday, October 6