SEJ's 29th Annual Conference Agenda — Saturday






Agenda Coverage Sponsors Exhibitors/Advertisers About Fort Collins




Saturday, October 12, 2019

All sessions, as well as registration, exhibits and breaks, took place at CSU’s Lory Student Center,
1101 Center Avenue Mall, Fort Collins, CO 80521, unless otherwise indicated.



7:00 am - 2:30 pm
Grand Ballroom, CSU's Lory Student Center

Don't miss the wealth of information offered by the 2019 exhibitors. Learn about environmental issues and innovations, journalism fellowships, see some great displays and add to your source list.


Pitch Slam and FEJ Proposal Coaching: U.S. Public Lands

7:30 am - 8:45 am
Room 322, CSU's Lory Student Center


  • Meaghan Parker (Moderator) Executive Director, Society of Environmental Journalists
  • Sadie Babits (Speaker) Independent Editor, Journalist
  • Michael Kodas (Judge) Freelance Author and Photojournalist

SEJ's Fund for Environmental Journalism will award grants up to $5,000 in January 2020 for story projects covering U.S. public lands. Share your ideas with our panel of judges, and get feedback and tips to strengthen your proposal for FEJ Winter Competition. Deadline for the story grant proposals is November 15. Note: This session will not be recorded. Story grants made possible by The Wilderness Society, The Pew Charitable Trusts and other foundation and individual donors to FEJ.


SEJ Student Newsroom

8:00 am - 3:30 pm
Room 376-378, CSU's Lory Student Center


  • Joe Champ (Facilitator) CSU Dept. of Journ. & Media Com.

You’re a student assigned to cover happenings at a big conference. Need a place to work? Equipment to get it done? A few editing ideas from seasoned veterans? Checkout the SEJ Student Newsroom. Located at the heart of the conference site, it’s a space to work, learn and chill. Environmental journalists will stop by to offer advice and mentoring. The newsroom will be outfitted with Internet-connected desktop computers and field equipment for checkout (e.g., video/still cameras, pods, lights, mics, audio recorders, etc.). In addition, the special programming developed just for environmental journalism students will be available at the newsroom. See the SEJ Student Newsroom on Wednesday and Friday for more information on these programs. 

If you are interested in finding out more about how to participate at the SEJ Student Newsroom and related events, please contact Dr. Joe Champ, Department of Journalism and Media Communication, Colorado State University at


Concurrent Sessions 3

9:00 am - 10:15 am

Reinventing the News Business: The Promises and Perils of News Startups

Room 382, 3rd Floor, Lory Student Center


  • Emily Gertz (Moderator) Journalist and Entrepreneur
  • Lyndsey Gilpin (Speaker ) Founder and Editor-in-Chief, Southerly
  • Tina Griego (Speaker) Managing Editor/Columnist, The Colorado Independent
  • Robert McClure (Speaker ) Co-Founder and Executive Director, InvestigateWest

Since 2014, layoffs and shut-downs across cable TV, newspapers large and small, and even digital news darlings like VICE, BuzzFeed and HuffPost, have put nearly 10,000 people out of salaried news jobs. It’s clear that the business of news desperately needs re-invention, and the entrepreneurs on this panel are in the vanguard of figuring out how. Join us for this up-to-the-minute discussion on the ups and downs of starting up new news ventures (for- and non-profit), finding funding, generating revenues, managing the unexpected editorial challenges that new business models often create and more.

Disaster Coverage Beyond Parachuting

Room 386, 3rd Floor, Lory Student Center


  • Kyla Mandel (Moderator) Editor, Climate Team, ThinkProgress
  • Jolie Breeden (Speaker) Lead Editor and Science Communicator, Natural Hazards Center
  • Ana Campoy (Speaker ) Nieman Fellow, Harvard University
  • Mark Schleifstein (Speaker ) Environment Reporter, The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate

The past few years have seen increasingly devastating natural disasters, from Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico to Camp Fire in California. But as the events pile up, and the news cycle moves on, it may be challenging to find creative and meaningful ways to cover the lasting impact of disasters. This panel discussion will focus on how to tell compelling stories long after the fires and floods have gone, how to document the lasting physical and mental impacts, and creative ways to investigate response and relief efforts.

>> Resources (PDF)

Invisible Pollution, Invisible People: Covering Controversial Hormone-Mimicking Chemicals

Room 302 (Longs Peak), 3rd Floor, Lory Student Center


Scientists keep warning us, common chemicals we're all exposed to — in food, cosmetics, hygiene products, furniture — are altering our hormones and spurring diseases. Much like visible pollution, exposures are disproportionately harming vulnerable communities. So why do US regulators say there’s nothing to worry about? Get a primer on this terrifying class of chemicals and the scientific controversy around them. Go home prepared to report on this grand experiment taking place on all of our hormones and health.

Coal in Transition: What the Industry's Decline Means for Coal Communities

Room 300, 3rd Floor, Lory Student Center


  • Ben Storrow (Moderator) Reporter, E&E News
  • Joe Aldina (Speaker) Director, Global Coal Market Research, S&P Global Platts
  • Robert Godby (Speaker) Associate Professor, College of Business Department of Economics and Finance, and Director, Energy Economics & Public Policies Center, University of Wyoming
  • Erin Overturf (Speaker) Deputy Director, Clean Energy Program, Western Resource Advocates
  • Suzanne Tegen (Speaker) Assistant Director, Center for New Energy Economy, Colorado State University

President Trump ran on a pledge to revive the coal industry, but the decline has only accelerated. 2018 was one of the biggest years for coal plant retirements in U.S. history. Three major mining firms are in bankruptcy. In Wyoming and West Virginia, hundreds of workers were left suddenly without jobs when their company filed for bankruptcy protection. Panelists will explore the reason for the industry's decline and what it means for coal communities. How much longer can coal continue to underpin the economy in places like western Colorado, Wyoming and West Virginia? Can renewable jobs replace coal jobs? What role can states and the federal government play in aiding the transition?

Soils and Earth and Greenhouse Gases

Room 304-306, 3rd Floor, Lory Student Center


  • Rich Blaustein (Moderator) Freelance Science, Environmental and Legal Journalist
  • John Field (Speaker) Research Scientist, Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory, Colorado State University
  • Keith Paustian (Speaker) University Distinguished Professor, Department of Soil and Crop Sciences, and Senior Research Scientist, Natural Resource Ecology Lab, Colorado State University
  • Kevin Schaefer (Speaker) Research Scientist III and Lead Scientist for NSIDC Science Team, National Snow and Ice Data Center
  • Diana Wall (Speaker) University Distinguished Professor, Director, School of Global Environmental Sustainability and Professor, Department of Biology, Colorado State University

Scientists, activists and even politicians are increasingly calling attention to the connection of soils and greenhouse gas sequestration and emissions. Undisturbed soils are typically richest in carbon, underscoring the importance of conservation. Moreover, specialists point out that increasing the health of soils, including with amendments like biochar and managing crops for sequestering carbon, could play a significant role in local, national and even global mitigation schemes. At the same time, scientists are greatly concerned that warming temperatures in the northern biome would cause methane and carbon release from permafrost and peatlands, significantly compounding ghg emissions. We will discuss the latest science, policy and opportunities that focus on the connections of soils, conservation and ghg sequestration and emissions.

>> John Field's presentation (PPTX/9 MB)
>> Keith Paustian's presentation (PDF/1 MB)
>> Kevin Schaefer's presentation (PPTX/5 MB)
>> Diana Wall's presentation (PDF/18 MB)

Western Water: The Push for More Storage in Headwaters

Room 308-310, 3rd Floor, Lory Student Center


  • Bruce Finley (Moderator) Denver Post environment writer - panel moderator
  • John Fielder (Speaker) Landscape Photographer, Conservationist and Rivers Advocate
  • Matt Rice (Speaker) Director, Colorado River Basin Program, American Rivers
  • Brad Udall (Speaker) Senior Scientist/Scholar, Colorado State University
  • Reagan Waskom (Speaker) Director, Colorado Water Center, Colorado State University
  • Brad Wind (Speaker) General Manager, Northern Water

Colorado's population growth and development boom, combined with increased variability in water flows linked to climate change, is driving new efforts to build reservoirs and increase water storage. This is happening as competition increases for water across the Colorado River Basin in the West — the over-allocated supply for 40 million people. Panelists will explore key questions around the environmental impact of diverting water and storing it behind dams. Can relatively free-flowing rivers survive? How are westerners in Colorado responding to climate change impacts on water flows? What are the implications beyond the river headwaters state of Colorado? How far can we go with water conservation inside cities? Will agriculture survive?

The Wildfire Crisis: Can We Log (or Graze, Thin, Burn, Zone or Rake) Our Way Out of This?

Room 312, 3rd Floor, Lory Student Center


  • Michael Kodas (Moderator) Freelance Author and Photojournalist
  • Jennifer Balch (Speaker) Associate Professor, Department of Geography, University of Colorado Boulder
  • Tony Cheng (Speaker) Director, Colorado Forest Restoration Institute
  • Chela Garcia (Speaker) Director of Conservation Programs, Hispanic Access Foundation
  • Rod Moraga (Speaker) Fire Behavior Analyst, Prescribed Burning Trainer and Chief Executive Officer, Anchor Point Group LLC
  • George Wuerthner (Speaker) Public Lands Media

After each fire season in which the destruction and death tolls of catastrophic wildfires increase, news media hear of various simple fixes to reduce the combustibility of increasingly flammable forests and wildlands. Most of those easy solutions prove ineffective at slowing the increasing size and destructiveness of wildfires and some of them, when inappropriately implemented, have actually increased the damage done by wildland fires or had other, unintended negative consequences. What techniques work to reduce the losses of life and property to wildfires? Which ones are overrated or misused? What is effective at minimizing the impacts of wildfires on our health, climate and natural resources?

Market-Based Mechanisms: The Good, the Bad and the Details

Room 322, 3rd Floor, Lory Student Center


  • Gloria Gonzalez (Moderator) Managing Editor, Industry Dive
  • Craig Ebert (Speaker) President, Climate Action Reserve
  • Scott Edwards (Speaker) Legal Director, Food & Water Watch
  • Toby Janson-Smith (Speaker) Chief Innovation Officer, Verra
  • Maggie Monast (Speaker) Senior Manager, Economic Incentives, Working Lands, Environmental Defense Fund

Can the market save the environment? Whether we're talking about climate, water or food, the debate over market-based incentives versus government regulation rages on — and the only thing we all can agree on is that the devil is in the details. Join speakers on both sides of this debate and hear about the latest research on this tricky topic.


Concurrent Sessions 4

10:45 am - 12:00 pm

Following the Money in Environmental Reporting

Room 382, 3rd Floor, Lory Student Center


The Green New Deal. The decline of coal. The shale revolution. The biggest environmental stories of our time are essentially tales of economic disruption. Reporters covering these monumental shifts should understand the financial forces that are driving such changes, as well as their cost to consumers. This session will offer tools for approaching environmental stories through a financial and economic lens.

>> Resources (Google doc)

Beyond False Balance Social Scientists and Environmental Journalists Tackle the Manipulation of Environmental Stories

Room 386, 3rd Floor, Lory Student Center


  • Thomas Hayden (Moderator) Professor of the Practice, Environmental Communication Program, Stanford University
  • Adina Abeles (Speaker ) Stanford University
  • Emily Atkin (Speaker) Author and Founder, HEATED
  • Patrick Chandler (Speaker) Environmental Communication Researcher, University of Colorado, Boulder
  • Perla Trevizo (Speaker) Environmental Affairs Reporter, Houston Chronicle

The environmental beat is inherently complex, often uncertain and it can manipulated. We have tools to address these challenges: for example, social science can help predict how audiences respond to information and stories, and journalism itself can expose disinformation campaigns. And we’ve already worked hard to remove false balance from our reporting. This session brings journalists and social scientists together to ask: what more can journalists do to understand these forces and protect both the integrity and impact of their work?

Plastics and Climate Change: What’s Around the Corner

Room 300, 3rd Floor, Lory Student Center


  • James Bruggers (Moderator) News Reporter, InsideClimate News
  • Steve Alexander (Speaker ) The Association of Plastic Recyclers
  • Eugene Chen (Speaker ) John K. Stille Endowed Chair and Millennial Professor of Polymer Science & Sustainability, Department of Chemistry, Colorado State University
  • Judith Enck (Speaker ) Visiting Professor, Bennington College, Founder of Beyond Plastics and former EPA Regional Administrator

With oceans choking in plastic waste and new research finding that humans are ingesting tens of thousands of pieces of micro plastics over their lifetimes, there are new concerns mounting about the role of plastics in climate change. We look at what the latest studies are finding and discuss potential solutions to a problem that industry experts say will get worse before it gets any better.

Agriculture: Climate Change Culprit, Victim and Solution

Room 304-306, 3rd Floor, Lory Student Center


  • Georgina Gustin (Moderator) Reporter, InsideClimate News
  • Ben Lilliston (Speaker) Director of Rural Strategies and Climate Change, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy
  • Keith Paustian (Speaker ) University Distinguished Professor, Department of Soil and Crop Sciences, and Senior Research Scientist, Natural Resource Ecology Lab, Colorado State University
  • Ernie Shea (Speaker ) President, Solutions from the Land

Farmers are on the frontline of climate change, at the mercy of worsening extreme weather. Farms also contribute to the problem as greenhouse gas emitters. And they could help solve it — through practices that could store billions of tons of carbon in the soil. Controlling greenhouse gas emissions requires an all-out effort across industries, yet the American farm hasn’t been deployed into action. Why? This panel explores current problems, including policy failures and agri-business strategies, as well as potential solutions.

Water in the West: Challenges and Solutions

Room 308-310, 3rd Floor, Lory Student Center


  • Mitch Tobin (Moderator) The Water Desk
  • Heather Hansman (Speaker ) Freelance Journalist
  • Jim Lochhead (Speaker ) Chief Executive Officer/Manager, Denver Water
  • Brad Udall (Speaker ) Senior Scientist/Scholar, Colorado State University
  • Daryl Vigil (Speaker) Interim Executive Director, Ten Tribes Partnership and Water Administrator, Jicarilla Apache Nation

The Colorado River and its tributaries are the lifeblood for 40 million people and a $1.4 trillion economy, but the region's water supply faces unprecedented threats from climate change and population growth. Around the globe, other river basins confront similar challenges. How can we better manage our precious water resources to meet the needs of people and the environment? How can journalists help inform the public and policymakers about water issues?

Leaky Mines: A Toxic Time Bomb

Room 312, 3rd Floor, Lory Student Center


  • Theresa Braine (Moderator) Breaking News, National Desk, New York Daily News
  • Matt Brown (Speaker) The Associated Press
  • Ron Cohen (Speaker) Emeritus Associate Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Colorado School of Mines
  • Dan Elliott (Speaker) Associated Press
  • Dina Gilio-Whitaker (Speaker) Lecturer, American Indian Studies, California State University San Marcos

In August 2015, three million gallons of contaminated mining wastewater broke through a plug of rock and debris at the mouth of an entrance to the defunct Gold King Mine outside Silverton, Colorado, while EPA subcontractors were examining it for remediation purposes. The heavy-metals-laden water cascaded into a creek feeding the Animus River, turning it lurid orange, and from there gushed into the San Juan, which flows through several states and Native American nations, including the Navajo Nation. This is just one of thousands of abandoned mines in the Western United States leaking contaminated water, many of them Superfund sites. This panel will use the Gold King Mine spill to illustrate the scope of the problem and give tips on how to mine Superfund documents and archives for crucial environmental stories.

Why Don’t Journalists Talk About Human Population?

Room 322, 3rd Floor, Lory Student Center


Why do so many journalists struggle to write about the "population problem"? The data shows that having one fewer children in developed countries is the best way to reduce carbon emissions via personal choice, and yet many stories fail to mention reproduction as an issue to be tackled at all, choosing instead to focus on vegan diets and flying less. In this panel, we'll discuss the challenges facing reporters in writing about this controversial issue, digging into the origins of Malthusian theory, the childfree movement, and reproductive rights and family planning.


Environmental Journalism Awards Luncheon

12:00 pm - 2:00 pm
Grand Ballroom, CSU's Lory Student Center


We work hard throughout the year to not only get the stories, but to get them right. And, for what? Awards, of course! Now it’s time to shift the spotlight on ourselves for a moment while we honor the best environmental reporting of 2018 at SEJ’s Annual Awards for Reporting on the Environment, including the first Ray Reece "Excellence in Environmental Journalism" Student Award and the second annual $10,000 Nina Mason Pulliam Award for the best of the best. We’ll kick off the celebration with an eye-opening look at the best environmental photography from the past year.


Mini-Tour Bonanza

2:15 pm - 5:30 pm

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 or here on the web agenda for details. Additional flyers are available at the Information Table.

Departure: At 2:00 p.m., immediately following the lunch program, meet up with your tour leaders holding up signs near the SEJ registration desk to walk together as a group to load on the correct buses at the Transit Center or to walk to pick up bikes or to depart on the campus walking tour.

Return: Buses return to Fort Collins about 5:30 p.m. and will drop attendees off at the three conference hotels and then continue on to the dinner party at New Belgium.


1. Science and Scenic Views in the West’s Shortgrass Steppe


  • Cheryl Hogue (Tour Leader) Senior correspondent , Chemical & Engineering News
  • Joe Wertz (Tour Leader) Senior Environment Reporter, Center For Public Integrity
  • Gene Kelly (Speaker) Colorado State University

Join us for a tour of big skies and serious science. We’ll take a 45-minute drive from Fort Collins through rolling hills, learn about land-use changes in the Front Range and shortgrass steppe and explore the ecosystem of the western Great Plains. The tour stops at the Central Plains Experimental Range, a USDA-ARS site nestled between the Chalk Bluffs and Rocky Mountains that supports the Rangeland Research Program and the National Science Foundation's Long Term Ecological Research program. We’ll discuss livestock’s impact on rangeland and visit a National Ecological Observatory Network Domain 10 Core Tower site and learn about environmental change happening throughout the grasslands.
Cap on Tour: 50


2. Environmental Justice on the Plains


The northern Great Plains of Colorado, like much of the rest of the state, has a long history of exploitation by European settlers, not only of its natural resources, but of its Indigenous and immigrant people. We'll talk to some of those people working on the front lines to promote environmental justice and visit a school where oil and gas extraction is happening right next door to some of the region's poorest students.

Cap on Tour: 50


3. Energy Answers: Project-Based Solutions to Sustainable Energy


  • Joanna Pinneo (Tour Leader) Ted Scripps Fellow, Center For Environmental Journalism
  • Ted Wood (Tour Leader) Freelance Photojournalist and Co-Founder The Story Group, The Story Group
  • Kate Laughery (Speaker) Associate Director for Operations, Energy Institute, Colorado State University
  • Bryan Willson (Speaker) Executive Director and Founder, Energy Institute, Colorado State University
  • Dan Zimmerle (Speaker) Senior Research Associate, Energy Institute, Colorado State University, and Principal Investigator and Director, Methane Emissions Technology Evaluation Center

This is a two-part, science-in-action energy tour. The group will visit CSU’s Powerhouse, a 100,000-square-foot Platinum LEED certified research facility. Attendees will tour the green facility and observe projects being developed for sustainable energy solutions in the US and the developing world, including a small village micro-grid simulation lab and a cookstove emissions exposure chamber. The second location, METEC, is a field site set up as an operational natural gas well pad. Researchers test low-cost methane sensing technologies that can be used by industry and regulators in the production of natural gas. The goal is to reduce methane leaks and its impact as a greenhouse gas. Weather permitting, attendees will participate in a hands-on experience detecting leaks with optical gas cameras and gas detectors. Tour attendees will be split into two groups, alternating site visits.

Cap on tour: 50


4. Biking the Poudre River


  • Nancy Gaarder (Tour Leader) Reporter, Omaha World-Herald
  • Tom Henry (Tour Leader) Environmental-Energy Writer, The (Toledo) Blade
  • Beck Anderson (Speaker) Stormwater Master Planning Engineer, City of Fort Collins
  • Dan Evans (Speaker) Stormwater Master Planning Manager, City of Fort Collins
  • Heidi Hansen (Speaker) Floodplain Administrator, City of Fort Collins
  • Marsha Hilmes-Robinson (Speaker) Floodplain Administrator, City of Fort Collins
  • Kenneth Sampley (Speaker) Director, Stormwater Engineering and Development Review, City of Fort Collins
  • Forbes Tompkins (Speaker) Manager, Resilient Infrastructure, Flood-Prepared Communities, The Pew Charitable Trusts

Cycle along scenic stretches of the Spring Creek and Poudre River trails and learn how Fort Collins has reduced its flood risk, including the use of buyouts, a flood warning system and stream rehabilitation. You’ll learn about Fort Collins’ flood history, the role of federal policy, local water quality, and see the city’s phenomenal natural areas and new whitewater park. A helmet and a comfort stop are also included. Please watch the “Fort Collins Flood of 1997” video online prior to the ride.

NOTE: To speed our departure, please sign up for the bike discount coupon by downloading the Pace Bike Share app ahead of the ride, creating a member profile, and entering the promo code SEJ2019 for $10 (3 hours) in free ride credits.

Cap on Tour: 20


5. Biking “Platinum” FoCo


  • Chuck Quirmbach (Tour Leader) Innovation Reporter, WUWM, Milwaukee Public Radio
  • Dan Coogan (Speaker) Board President, Bike Fort Collins
  • Paul Sizemore (Speaker) FC Moves Manager, City of Fort Collins

Hop on a provided bike, snap on a provided helmet, and c'mon join us for about an eight-mile ride on mostly flat terrain. Our fun, and yet journalistic, goal: See how Fort Collins became one of the top-rated bicycling cities in the U.S., and learn what questions you should ask bicycle coordinators and transportation planners back in your home community. The ride will include, as needed, SEJ-provided drinking water and mid-ride comfort stop.

NOTE: To speed our departure, please sign up for the bike discount coupon, by downloading the Pace Bike Share app ahead of the ride, creating a member profile, and entering the promo code SEJ2019 for $10 (3 hours) in free ride credits (

Cap on Tour: 20


6. Walking the Talk: Sustainability in Action at Colorado State University


  • Auditi Guha (Tour Leader) Health research and writing, Psych Expertise
  • Stacey Baumgarn (Speaker) Campus Energy Coordinator, Colorado State University

Join CSU’s Campus Energy Coordinator on a green walking tour exploring the things that enable and support sustainability action and practices on campus. We’ll walk and talk about renewable electricity, transportation planning, stormwater management, recycling and composting and how and why sustainability matters to our students. At CSU, sustainability is a team sport. We’ll discuss the things you may or may not see that help CSU achieve its sustainability goals, including the role students, faculty, staff, alumni and others play.

Cap on Size: 30


Dinner and Dance Party at New Belgium

5:30 pm - 10:00 pm
New Belgium Brewing, 500 Linden St., Fort Collins, CO

Pre-registration and $35 fee required.

Take the Max or stay on your mini-tour bus to New Belgium. Buses will be available to bring people back to hotels following the party or you can walk or take the Max downtown.

Beers, bicycles and a bent toward sustainability! New Belgium Brewing is a Fort Collins landmark, a craft-beer-drinkers’ mecca and an industry trailblazer when it comes to environmental design and community philanthropy. Throngs of people visit the brewery annually for a tour and tastes of Fat Tire and the dozens of other New Belgium taproom beers.

There will be four 25-limit tours of the brewery: two at 6:00 p.m. and two at 7:30 p.m. Meet in the brewery's All Staff Room; tours take off from there promptly at the above times.

And, yes, there will be beer! The first two drinks will be free, and we'll have wine on hand for non-beer drinkers, but bring cash for additional beer or wine.

Starting at 7:00 we’ll have lip-smacking-good local meals and morsels, and then at 8:00 SEJ takes over the taproom for music by Choice City Seven to get you dancing.


Wednesday, October 9
Thursday, October 10
Friday, October 11
Sunday, October 13

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